Social media has become an essential tool for every business. No matter what you are offering or audience, the lack of a social media presence can seriously hamper your ability to connect with your customers or stakeholders.
Driven by the need for a comprehensive digital footprint, many businesses attempt to build and maintain a social media presence with regular content delivered across platforms. But this can be a time consuming and costly exercise – leading to low levels of activity and engagement as it moves further down the priority list. Before diving in, it’s important to devise a comprehensive social media strategy that identifies your target audience, your messaging and how these align with your overall marketing strategy. Too many businesses spend time and money building and maintaining accounts that don’t reach the right audiences or contribute to their marketing goals.
Who are you trying to reach?
The audience you are looking to reach will dictate the platforms you choose, so you should ask yourself this:
Are you looking to reach consumers or other businesses?
What is the age of your target demographic?
These may seem like simple questions, but it’s important to interrogate not just who your customers are, but who your stakeholders are. Identify all of your audiences and choose platforms that can help you reach them. After you have defined your audiences, develop a strategy for how you are going to tailor your messaging on each platform to reflect the audience you are pursuing. For example, you may use LinkedIn to reach decision makers within other businesses but maintain an Instagram presence to draw the interest of young university students, helping to fill graduate roles.
What content are you really producing?
In the race to ‘get on everything’ businesses can forget the fundamental differences between platforms, and the demands of developing content for all of them. Questions to ask yourself – and be honest! – are:
Do I have the time and resources to create good content?
Will this content allow me to have a meaningful presence on this platform?
Many businesses fall into the trap of attempting to maintain social accounts on platforms that don’t align well with the content they produce. For example, businesses that don’t have the resources to produce engaging visual content will struggle to connect with audiences on platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. And businesses who cannot maintain a constant flow of content will have difficulty reaching audiences on platforms like Twitter or Snapchat, where constant communication is essential to maintain an engaged following.
Why are you doing it at all?
Perhaps before considering the audience you are looking to reach and the content you plan to reach them with, it’s worth taking a step back and asking why it is you are on social media at all. This means integrating your social media strategy firmly in your marketing and brand management strategy. What are your marketing goals and how is social media helping you to achieve them? What sort of business do you want to be, and how will connecting with audiences on social media help you to get there? Asking yourself these questions can get to the heart of why it is you are communicating on social media. Understanding this ‘why’ is the first step in an effective social media strategy.
Developing a social media strategy and executing it is a complex, and often demanding task. But the benefits that can be realised from authentic, effective communication with stakeholders across social media platforms cannot be understated. If you ask yourself the right questions from the outset, you will be able to develop a strategy which reflects your brand and can help you to achieve your marketing and communication goals, whatever they are.