More and more businesses are using social media because it gives them another avenue to connect with customers. There are so many social media outlets to choose from, but with all the options, how do you determine which ones best suits your business?
Before you sign up and start Tweeting or Facebooking, you should think about your social media strategy. This means taking time to stop and think about what you want to accomplish. It’s pointless to create accounts for every social media outlet without a clear understanding of your objectives.
Here are a few questions to answer and points to think about while creating your social media strategy.
- Describe your business
If you can’t describe your business and value you have to offer in a sentence, how will potential new customers know what you do? Craft a sentence that conveys who you are and what you offer.
- Why social media? What do you want to accomplish using social media?
You need to define your objectives about why you want to use social media. Are you joining to make more contacts within your industry? Do you want to build on your relationships using an online medium? Would you like more engagement from your current customers? Do you want others in your industry to know you’re up to date with technology and trends? Whatever your reason, you’re bound to find an outlet that suits your business; the options are plentiful.
- What social media outlets are best for you?
There are many different options when choosing social media outlets. Some options include social networking sites (i.e. Facebook), real-time updates or micro-blogs (i.e. Twitter), blogs, social news websites, just to name a few. You need to examine the characteristics of each social media outlet and see which of those support what you want to accomplish. For example, if your goal was to make new contacts with other business professionals in your industry, perhaps LinkedIn would be the outlet to consider.
- Do you have something to share?
Social media is about sharing content and information, as well as making connections with others. This connectivity is a way to build your relationships and meet new contacts. Do you have something interesting to share? Do you have news? Do you have information that is relevant and fascinating? Having something to share will encourage people to keep coming back for more.
- How will you drive people to participate?
You can have multiple social media accounts and link them to each other to expand your business’ profile. Do you have something to share? Sharing content and information will encourage your contacts to participate in dialogue with you, whether it’s posting a comment on your blog or inviting others to read your information, ongoing participation will lead to more interest. Participation is a two-way street - if you make the effort your customers will too, thus building stronger relationships.
- Prepare to lose control of your brand
Putting your brand out there will provoke debates, opinions and comments that might not necessarily be favourable. Are you prepared to lose control of the conversations about your business (even just a little)?
- Who will maintain your social media presence? Do you have resources to keep it up?
Do you have the resources to keep updating your social media profiles? Will you or someone at your company update content, so your ideas and what you have to share is fresh?
- How will you measure success?
Do you have a metrics system in place that can measure the effectiveness of your social media activity? Will you look at the quality of each comment made to determine if they’re positive, neutral or negative, and how will you rate these? Will you be measuring your profile views or how many followers or subscribers you have? Have any business transactions happened as a result of your online conversations?
If your goal was to build relationships with other contacts, are you doing this and are your relationships positive? You need some sort of measuring system to tell you whether or not social media is having a positive effect on your business.
Social media is making a big impact on how we do business. Take time out to think about why you want to use it, what outlets are best for you and how you’re going to measure success.