Nicolette Beard

Social Media Strategy: Where to Start & Why

Nicolette Beard     Online Marketing, Social Media

social media strategy start

Where to Start Your Social Media Strategy

Whether you’re a bricks and mortar mom and pop business or a 100% online digital enterprise, NOT participating in social media is no longer an option. In many ways today’s social networks represent the new discovery engine. Consumers and business decision makers are sending their friends and colleagues to websites they like through their browsers and desktops and, increasingly, their mobile devices.

According to eMarketer, more than 1.4 billion people worldwide will use social networks in 2012. Although the global audience is massive, it is by no means unified, they caution. It’s clear that companies of all sizes need to embrace a social media strategy because what our connections are doing online will drive your customers’ behavior more and more. What still appears murky for many, however, is exactly where to start.

Begin With Social Media Monitoring

I recommend casting your net wide, beginning with social media monitoring. Why? Because basic business intelligence will provide a framework and may also reveal gaps in your competitor’s digital footprint – knowledge you can take advantage of. For example, Google+ is still an underutilized platform for many companies, even with 343 million users. If your competitor isn’t using a specific top-tier social media platform, your business can become an influencer with little effort.

However, there are hundreds of social media sites and apps that may fit your target audience perfectly and some your competitors may not have discovered.

The Core of Your Social Media Strategy: Goals & Measurement

Just as every website serves a purpose, so too should your social media strategy. A social media presence without a business objective is like having a website without a Contact page. Business goals involving social media will vary depending on your unique product or service; just be sure to identify them. For example, one objective of social media might be to support sales by answering questions or publishing how-to videos. Another may be to augment customer service.

By establishing specific goals, you can measure results and calibrate your efforts accordingly. The one thing I’ve learned about social media is that it’s a fast-moving ecosystem. If you know what you want to achieve, and you aren’t hitting your numbers, you can always optimize tactics for better performance. Or, if your metrics are anemic, this may be the signal to refine your strategy.

Google recently made it even easier to measure referring traffic with their new Social reports. Since they scour the web looking for new content via links, it was only a matter of time before they released this layer of data. By providing a holistic social media report through your existing Google Analytics account, it will be much easier to replicate success when you know which pages, posts or social links are garnering the most engagement.

Integrate with Search

As Lee likes to say, “SEO is the peanut butter, social media is the jelly and content holds it all together”. The dynamic between social media content and shared links with visibility on search engines is undeniable.  When planning out social media content, make sure you tap into keyword glossaries researched by the SEO team or agency. Creating keyword optimized content that is prone to be shared will extend the reach of your social media messaging and attract even more participants to your networks on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Social Goes Mobile

Lastly, no social media strategy would be complete without discussing mobile. It can be argued that the rise in smartphone technology correlates directly to the explosion of social media usage.  Keeping pace are technology platforms that can track conversions from social media and email to real-world foot traffic.

Whether you’re a local business who wants to tie Facebook “likes” to in-store purchases with performance monitoring from startup Circl or a cross-channel marketer wanting a 360 degree view of your customer using an enterprise-level solution, like Strongview (formerly StrongMail), gaining insights into customer behavior has never been easier. (Disclosure: Strongview is a client of TopRank Online Marketing.)

Your goal as business owner or marketing department then becomes creating the right offer tailored to the right person at exactly the moment they’re ready to buy, elevating the term “digital handshake” to a whole new level!

Image source: Shutterstock

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  1. Avatar cuteshannon says

    Social media can be used to distribute visual content very effectively. An app like photofiesta allows photographers to distribute their content using their audiences’ social media presence. In fact using a simple app such as this one would allow a photographer to send out thousands of branded images to tens of thousands of users at one event. Makes developing a presence on social media easy.

  2. Absolutely. By stating your goals and measuring your social media activities, you are one step ahead of the pack.

  3. Avatar Sheetal Sharma says

    The very first line of this post is impact full, social media has become an integral part of business community and under utilized tools of social media can lead to lesser visibility and missed audience. Very well written post!

  4. It’s been a while now since I’ve had to run a social media campaign… any advice on which are the top monitoring tools these days?

    • It depends on your needs and budget, but you can start with basic tools like HootSuite, and move on to Trackur, Sprout Social. Sysomos and Salesforce Marketing Cloud are pretty robust too.

  5. Efforts and man-hours for SEO, involvement and content for Social, Spying on competitor for PPC – these are the thoughts you must follow while developing long term strategy.

  6. Targeting social media sites which your competitors doesn’t use is a good point! By the way thanks for the article.

  7. Thanks for the Post!! Social media is really important to promote the brand among a large network. Thanks for the strategies and the advices on social media.

  8. Avatar Joe Nicotera says

    What do you say to people who think they don’t have time for social media, or it doesn’t have value for them? A lot of people in our industry (vacation rentals) think that email marketing really works the best and social media doesn’t have much of a hold.

    • Social amplifies stories, create assist to sales situations, awareness and most of all community. Interest people through social by creating value and then attract them to subscribe from there to the email list.

      • Avatar Joe Nicotera says

        Great advice, Lee! One of the ways we advise vacation rental owners to create valuable content is to have previous guests post pictures of their vacation, or talk about their favorite thing from the rental or the vacation area. Any other ideas are welcomed!