As business owners, we would never think about launching a new business or a new product without first doing market research (hopefully). So, why are we so quick to launch a Facebook page, start blasting tweets, or put cool filters on our Instagram photos when in reality we do not understand who we are talking to or what we’re supposed to talk about?
Before we engage with our audience, we need to understand what people want and how to deliver it to them. It all boils down to this common saying — “People want to know you care before they care what you know.” Take a moment (or a month, that’s what we suggest) to listen and understand what’s going on in the social space.
The first question I ask my clients is, “Why are you on social media?”. The answer I usually get is, “Because, that's what everyone else is doing.” Then, they wonder why after 2 years they still only have 18 followers.
Ask yourself why you’re using social media. What is your end goal? What are you trying to achieve? Without an understanding of your audience and specific goals in mind, how will you define the success of your social media strategy? How are you going to know what to listen for?
Check your Execution at the Door
When approaching a social media strategy, start by considering the nature of your business and your individual goals. The words Twitter and Facebook should not even enter the conversation at this point. At this point in the process you should avoid any conversation even remotely related to execution. People get hung up on the specific platforms before they even understand who they are trying to reach and what message they want to send.
And, here's another tip. Try to "master" 1 platform first, maybe 2. Don't spread yourself too thin. I get super skeptical when I see 5 social media icons on a company's website unless they have a 5-person marketing department.
I’m going to go ahead and say it. No, I DON’T think every business should be on Facebook (What the…?!?!!). It may not be the place for your particular audience or message. So, before we waste time and money figuring out what sticks, and maybe even damage your brand by “guessing”, we listen. We listen to our clients, and we listen to the digital web-o-sphere. During our process, we ask these questions:
- What are your social media goals?
- What do you want your audience to think about your brand?
- What does your social media audience look like? ie: Which platforms do they use? What are they talking about? Where are they located? Age? Gender? Socioeconomic status?
- What kind of content (videos, articles, photos, etc) do you have to use on your social media platforms?
- Who is already out there talking about you, promoting you, or even trashing you?
Making you (or your boss) Smile
With this information, we evaluate data and conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis to create a solid foundation for where we are going next. NOW, we can determine platform usage, content strategies, monitoring/reporting strategies, and setting up a calendar (I have 6 templates for you that make all of this easier). Things start to make sense to everyone in the room at this point. We have a plan. People love plans.
This plan is the foundation for our entire social strategy.
If you’re new to using social media as a way to market your business, or yourself, then listening works for you. If you’re a social media genius, then you know listening works for you too. We’ve used this for small and large campaigns alike. It’s all part of the process.
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