After a long and stressful week at the office it’s time to kick back, relax, and make the most of your weekend. The easy option might be to stay in, order take-out, or watch Golden Girls reruns. However, you might also be ready to blow off some steam. Let’s face it, as attractive as a lazy night on the couch sounds, you know once you put in the extra effort a night out will be much more fun.
Comparatively, there are two ways to plan a social media strategy.
- Plan 1 consists of a lazy and solo mission where you simply share a few things here and there that are just a regurgitation of social media stories and promotions that your readers have already heard.
- Plan 2 is based on learning from others and creating an informed and structured social strategy to attract and engage your audience.
If you really want to optimize your social media strategy, some discovery, planning, and measurement must take place. Below you will find eight tips for making the most of your social media interaction as if it were a night out on the town.
1. Mapping Out Your Evening
If you’re planning an evening out you likely have a few favorite spots in mind. You might also text some friends, post a Facebook message asking for suggestions, or run a Google search to find reviews. A well-informed plan will keep you from wasting precious time bouncing from one bad club to the next.
In the quest to be innovative, many marketers jump on social platform bandwagons before doing their due diligence to determine if a particular platform is a fit for their audience.
If you have a killer Google+ strategy but all of your customers are on Twitter, where does that leave you? The answer, square one. If you work with enterprise level customers you can easily run a query on many social platforms to determine how many of them are utilizing that particular site, and with what frequency.
Maybe your target is B2C? Companies spend thousands of dollars a year gathering information and creating reports on consumer social media trends and benchmarks. Take advantage of what is available to you (for free!).
2. Dress To Impress
You wouldn’t show up to one of the hottest nightclubs in town dressed in dirty sweats and Birkenstocks would you? Whether you’ve been to a club before or not, chances are you have an understanding of the dress code. Look at those around you, are you dressed to impress or dressed to turn off?
Understanding who your customers are and type of interaction they prefer will set you up to impress or engage them on an ongoing basis. Identify your best customers as well as your top prospects and monitor the way that they interact on social networks. This will give you insight into creating appealing messages and engagement.
3. Accessories Make the Outfit
Ask any woman and she’ll likely tell you that the accessories make the outfit. A killer handbag, bracelet, or any type of bling will add that little extra sparkle that you’re looking for.
Social media monitoring and listening tools aren’t essential to running a social campaign, but they provide a tremendous advantage. While you may not be ready to jump headfirst into paying a subscription of $50-$3,000 on a monthly basis to begin monitoring and measuring social interaction, there are many free and inexpensive tools available.
- Social Mention: Good for finding how many times a topic or company has been mentioned within a specified period of time.
- Commun.IT: This relatively new platform is made strictly for Twitter and has free and paid versions. Commun.IT groups people by the number of times they’ve mentioned or interacted with you and ranks them based on influence and subject matter. You can also setup a series of key phrases and receive a notification each time those keywords are used.
- HootSuite: With HootSuite there is just so much that you can monitor. The key to using HootSuite is keeping your streams organized. It’s great for topic, user, and event hashtag tracking. One thing to watch out for is using the posting features for some of the social networks (e.g., Facebook doesn’t always display properly).
4. Should You Be Early, On Time, or Fashionably Late?
If you arrive too early to the club or party, you’ll find yourself sitting at the bar twiddling your thumbs and killing time until the rest of the crowd arrives. Arrive too late and you might not make it in – or you’ll miss all the fun.
Keeping in mind industry standards and best practices are key when determining the optimum point for listening and sharing on social media channels.
For example, you may already know that the biggest spike on Facebook usage generally occurs around 3 p.m. on weekdays while Twitter engagement is best on the weekends. So while you note these engagement opportunities when sharing your company message, are you also using those times as an opportunity for better social media listening?
5. Is the Cover Charge Worth It?
A cover charge no matter the price creates a sense of value for those looking to break into a crowded nightclub. If you’re going to pay to play, you had better get your money’s worth.
In the case of social media your “cost” is time, resources, or tools needed to properly execute a social strategy. If you’re just beginning to tackle the social web your time is best spent listening or being a voyeur if you will.
This information gathering will arm you with the insight you need to begin rocking the social web. Studies have found that a whopping 77 percent of B2C companies and 43 percent of B2B companies have acquired new customers from Facebook alone!
6. Quiet Amid Chaos
If you’ve ever been to a nightclub you know the majority of your conversations consist of yelling at each other and catching every other word (if you’re lucky). Similarly, you don’t want to attempt to yell at your social media fans and friends over all of the other “noise” on the Internet.
If you have something meaningful to say to some of your social media connections send them a direct or private message. This tactic will ensure that they’ll hear what you have to say and that you’ve identified a message just for them.
The social web is flush with white noise. There is a lot out there, but you can neither absorb nor differentiate the majority of it. With thousands of tweets, posts, shares, and likes each day, how can you find the nuggets of information that are actually helpful to your strategy?
Simple, get organized. Many social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ enable users to create lists, favorites, or circles in order to customize what appears in your feed. Taking a few extra minutes to segment your social channels will save you hours in the long run.
7. Shoot The Breeze With Old Friends
Bumping into an old friend unexpectedly on a night out is cause for celebration. You may talk for a few minutes and then share an adult beverage (or two) while catching up. This time spent is valuable because you can pick right back up where you left off and who knows, they may even be able to introduce you to some new friends.
In the same manner, your existing customers can prove to be a valuable resource when figuring out how to attract and engage new customers. There are a variety of ways that you can tap into the minds of your current customers. You could try:
- Sending out a customer survey and include questions about their social networking habits.
- Spend a portion of your monthly or quarterly meetings asking what sort of things they’re interested in learning more about on social networks.
- Asking their opinion on a new campaign you’re running internally to determine if they would find it useful and engaging.
8. Make Some New Contacts
Have you ever woken up after a night out with new numbers in your phone under names like “Ryan from concert”, “Sarah Cute Dress”, or “April Sam’s Friend”? When you let your guard down and begin talking to people you might not otherwise spend time getting to know, chances are you’re more likeable.
In order to make new friends either online or offline, you must be friendly. A little extra effort or help solving a problem can go a long way.
Perhaps you’re scouring Twitter for users talking about a topic related to your business and find a question from someone looking for insight. You can either send them a link to your company website with no explanation, or answer their question and provide them with resources on where they can learn more.
Building trust with new online connections does not happen overnight, which is why you need to give a little before expecting something back in return.
While you may be tired (or even exhausted) after a long night on the town, you will likely experience a sense of satisfaction that you made it through, found some new friends, and kept the ones you had. Keep in mind that anything worth doing is worth doing right.
If you truly want to engage and retain your online social networks, it’s essential that you be likeable, offer value, and put in the extra effort to identify what your prospects and customers care about most.
Image via Shutterstock.
A version of this post originally appeared on Search Engine Watch, Social.