Social media for business is a hot topic at the moment as more and more businesses are starting to recognise the need to feature themselves where their audience hang out.
The need for a strong social media presence for your business is right up there with having a great website and social media integration should be one of the questions you ask your web designer.
The traffic from the different social media platforms is now highly targeted meaning that visitors are more likely to become customers rather than people who have found your site through a search engine.
The bad news is that it's not enough to simple 'have a Facebook business page'; good social media for business means having a good social media campaign, which involves a lot of planning for it to become effective. But I promise you it's worth it: being active and relevant across a range of social media channels can mean your business generates more leads than ever before!
The good news, however, is that we've got a great set of steps to help you create a successful campaign from scratch and get you off to a flying start.
Planning and running a successful social media campaign for your business in 10 steps
Step 1 - setting goals and targets
Before planning your social media campaign, you must decide what your marketing goals are as a business, both primary and secondary. You can then investigate how your social media channels will help you reach them.
A few common goals that a solid social media campaign can help reach might be:
- Raising product awareness
- Increasing direct sales
- Generating business leads
Having strong, measurable goals before you start your social media marketing makes it easier to track and analyse results at the other end, ultimately making ROI much easier to prove.
Step 2 - understand your audience
Social media marketing gives you the power of creating relationships with your customers. These can be built by posting updates which your followers actually want to read. Your updates should be posted to inform, entertain and address your customer’s needs.
Like most business marketing activities, your campaigns should be heavily centred around your target audience and your customer profiles. You can find out more about what sorts of content they wish to receive from your business by creating a survey for both existing and possible consumers; your promotional activities can then be focused around these results.
Also note how best to interact with your audience. Some social media sites like Tumblr, being a closely joined community, mean that users easily notice the marketers among them and more spammy posts, usually because they only post information about their products.
For the gain of both trust and followers, you should be willing to participate in the social community, either by commenting on others' posts or sharing posts outside the area of your business.
Step 3 - planning what to post (i.e. your killer content)
To catch the attention of your followers more effectively, you should regularly share content which is both interesting and informative, educational but not sales based. Creating an article or blog post which your followers will enjoy will build credibility in the eyes of your audience and raise the authority of your business. Following on from this, your business will be seen as more trustworthy.
As for the specifics of what you should post, that's very much dependent on your business specialism and more importantly, what content speaks directly to your target audience, your buyer personas.
Whatever topic(s) your articles cover, keep things fresh and interesting by using a mix of different content types (how tos, videos, infographics, quizzes, etc.) and always use a strong image to promote the content: posts containing images gain up to 86% more engagement than standard text posts!
To make sure your content is performing to the best of its ability, keep an eye on the following points:
- Message consistency
If you're posting a message on various social media sites, it's very easy for the message to become misconstrued by not trying to tailor it for all of the different platforms and audiences. For example: the way you address Facebook users will not likely work in the same way as Tumblr.
- Linking content to marketing goals
If one goal of your campaign is to, say, increase leads from your website, then a good idea would be to create a landing page specific to the campaign, that your posts can link to. By directing your visitors to a tailored, related landing page, they tend to be reassured that they are in the correct place and have a clear direction on what to do next. Just sending a visitor to your homepage, on the other hand, can be quite overwhelming or confusing as they have to figure out where to go next.
Keeping things simple and clear for your visitors will help increase your conversion rates in the long run.
- Watch what you post
The rush to post new content continually, usually results in missing out editing and proofreading steps. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are forgiveable - if not bad enough - but past companies have proven to be their own downfall by allowing rude or demeaning content to filter through the net, leading to the loss of the entire business. Checking your posts is a vital part of the process; a simple spelling error can be received negatively.
Step 4 - planning when to post it (timing is everything!)
Working out a solid social posting schedule is important for two reasons:
- It helps you maximise the reach (i.e. the number of people who see your content);
- You can set in motion a regular flow of content that builds into a content sharing machine, always having something valuable and interesting to show your audience;
There are no hard and fast rules as to when and how frequently you should post, but there are many schools of thought and a wealth of opinions on the matter across the Internet.
The best advice is to find a schedule that works for you and your business for each social media platform and see what's working over time. One article that's definitely worth reading to help you get started is this one from Kissmetrics.
Step 5 - think about search engines
When your campaign is ready to launch, you should decide on a list of keywords which you would like your business to rank for and (as well as featuring on your website) the chosen keywords should be used in your campaign posts.
This is important for a number of reasons:
- A lot of social media platforms and their posts are publicly searchable and discoverable by search engines like Google and Bing - therefore so it your content!
- For people searching for content directly within the platform - e.g. looking for 'Halloween decorations' on Pinterest - will find your posts more easily if they contain relevant subject matter and keywords.
- Social signals are a growing area of importance in SEO circles with social posts linking to your website adding to the overall authority of your website and key pages.
Step 6 - influencers and contacts
Create a list of influencers in your industry who could help to spread word about your business and share your content through their popular social accounts.
The support given can potentially help to reach a large number of new contacts. Before this, you should create a best pitch as to why your campaign will help their followers - no sales pitches though!
If you use a CRM, it should allow you to view all conversations that are being held around your campaign from one dashboard. HubSpot it particularly excellent at this. Following this, using a good CRM’s sales and marketing automation tools, your social community can be turned into lifetime customers.
Step 7 - there's an app for that
To run a professional social media campaign, there are a number of free or low-cost apps which can help with the heavy lifting. After all, it might be important to get your business involved in social media, but if you're a small company or have limited resources then you may struggle to juggle this and your main business activities.
Here at Red Guerrilla, we use a range of tools to help us manage posts, schedule content, and measure the success of particular campaigns. Our favourites are:
Buffer is a tool that offers a really simple way to queue up a bunch of social media posts, and then schedule them out across the day. You can reduce your weekly posting time to once or twice a week for an hour or so, queuing up your posts for the week and letting Buffer worry about the physical posting work.
It also features a detailed analytics platform to highlight what's working and what's not.
with Hootsuite, the winning feature is the ability to manage streams of various social media conversations. For example, if you're following a Twitter hour conversation via a hashtag (e.g. #yorkhour) then you create a '#yorkhour' stream to focus on the list of posts in this conversation.
You can then have a second 'mentions' stream to watch out for people directly engaging with your business.
Mention features the ability to monitor billions of sources in over 40 languages, not just social media. You can make sure you track what's being said about what's important to you (your business, your company name, your particular field of interest, etc.).
It's a good opening into conversations potential customers are having about problems that your products / services can help address.
Step 8 - promotion, awareness, and powers of attraction
Depending on what social media platforms you decide to run your campaign on, you need to be aware of any rules for posting, or running a promotion. LinkedIn, for example, features various business groups that have strict limits on number of posts per week, or the type allowed.
If you don’t play by the rules, there is a risk of your business timeline being terminated or you company being banned from certain groups.
Social media can be complimented by supplemental digital promotion such as using email addresses from your clients to send them promotional offers, which is also a free option.
Whilst traditional outbound marketing methods struggle to have the same effect they once used to, you can increase your visitors and rates of attraction by a variety of offline methods. For example you could use flyers or leaflets at a business networking event, etc.
Of course, certain businesses, such as restaurants can benefit from tying offers and coupons into their social media campaigns which both raises awareness of your business online and gets your audience involved in your social media activities.
Step 9 - measuring success
Throughout your campaign to the end of it, you should review your success metrics. Were your goals met? If not, then why?
Each social media platform offers its own analytics area where you can see which tweets, posts, pins, etc. performed best and lead to interactions such as bringing in new followers, or reaching new people.
If you're using one of the tools we mentioned above, then even better; you'll be able to get a holistic overview of which posts worked well on which social platform.
Use this information to strengthen what worked well and do less of what didn't perform as you'd expected.
Step 10 - following up
When it comes to the end of your campaign, you should follow up with all of your new contacts. Social followers can be like gold dust so it's important to keep engaged with your audience.
New content and interesting social posts will keep your audience active and enthusiastic - even promoting you on your behalf - whilst starting conversations with people who comment on your statuses, or retweet your content, allows you to deepen your connection with your audience and build up rapport.
After all, people like to deal with people they know, like, and trust. Any means that helps you build on these three factors is a win in our books!
3..2..1..launch! Go make your next social media campaign awesome!
By following these tips and steps, you should now have all the basics in place to plan and launch a successful social media for business campaign.
A large and successful social media campaign can be a tough task for one person alone to achieve in addition to their regular daily tasks, but with some strategic planning and little-and-often monitoring of the campaign's performance, it can be done and make a big impact to your business.
Of course, if things do get a little too stressful then we've got a load of ways to de-stress in the office.