More than 22 million Canadians actively use social media on a daily basis to conect with one another, and an user on Facebook platform alone spends 40 mins on average browsing every day.
Considering the shifts and changes over the years in the way people connect and communicate with one another, it only makes sense for business owners to shift their efforts on free social media channels to reach ideal customer segment.
It doesn't mean giving up altogether on traditional marketing, especially if it's working. But it does mean adapting their strategy to changes in the marketplace.
The first and the most sensible adaptation online is social media marketing for businesses, since it's completely free and a great way to connect with customer on regular basis when done right.
Whether you have already gotten started on social media for your business or not, I have constructed a continuous road map that can be used periodically to get the most out of your efforts on social media.
Step 1. Listen
When you step into your customers shoe, you can understand what captures them and how to do so.
Start by listening to the marketplace, gather information about your customer, competitor and industry leaders.
As a business owner, you know who your ideal customers are. If you do not, then make sure to do so using a value proposition model. It can help you understand your customer and your offer better! Trust me, watch this video and follow along with your own business in mind here
Write out a detailed description of your ideal customer including their sex, age, geographical location, right down to their interests, hobbies, and values. This information will help you pin point which social media platforms to reach your ideal customer and how to do so!
While gathering information, evaluate how customers are interacting with competitor's content on their social media platforms. And keep in mind the positive response and the negative ones.
Listen to what customers are saying online by looking at their behavior and engagement.
For instance, if you are a real estate agent and you see a lot of people asking "how to qualify for mortgage", you should actively look at creating content answering this question.
Just remember that, it's no longer enough to just be on social media but also provide value in the form of the content you deliver to your customers.
So, listen and evaluate the platforms your customers are using.
Put yourself in your customer's shoe and think about the kind of post that you would like to see from your business.
If you are already active on social media, evaluate your customer profile and behavior. Take a look at the times they log in, when they are the most active, what and when they post. And the frequency of their posting and engagement with your content.
If you are new, look at the best and worst posts from your competitors. What is getting the most attention? and engagement?
Pick your favorite brands and follow leaders in your industry. This can help you stay up to date in your industry without having to be look up news stories relevant to your business. Hand picking favorite brands and leaders in industry also helps you get a sense of different styles and come up with your own voice for your brand.
Step 2. Plan
Once you have gathered information about customer behavior, choice of social media platforms, and interaction with competitors, you can start with a simple content calendar and posting schedule.
Selecting times to post can depend on when you hypothesize your customers will be active the most online. And test that theory.
If you have no idea, then we suggest choosing early morning, lunch, or evenings to start.
If you choose to post once every day, choose one of these times, noon for one month. Posting on the same time everyday can give you better insight (see Step 4.)
Tailor your efforts on social media strategically to reflect your efforts in Step 1. where you evaluated your customer, and their behavior.
Reach your customer past all the noise with the information you gathered about your customer and competitors. Once you have answers to these quetions:
o Who is your ideal customer?
o Where are you most likely to find your ideal customer?
o What kind of content do you think they will enjoy based on the information you gathered about them and their behavior online?
Once you have information about your customer, and defined your offer for the customer, you can create a simple social media content calendar in line with your business voice.
While everyone has social media, it's not a matter of just posting content. You want to put out content that provides value in the form of entertainment or education.
For instance, if I follow a fitness instructor or a gym on social media, I do not just want to see one promo after another, show me how you can help me! Create posts showcasing how to do certain exercise in correct form, or share funny gym do's and do not videos, which are fun to watch! or simply share simple tips about gym routines, or nutrition.
Once you understand who your customer is, create content that will attract more of them to your social media channel.
Before planning your social media strategy and content, make sure to write our your goals for using the social media platform and how will each content full fill either of the two values for your customer (entertain or educate).
During your planning process, decide which channels you want to use. And create a content calendar with a timeline.
We would suggest focusing on three main channels maximum especially if you are a small business with limited resources. But when you do choose your channels you must commit fully! Post on the set times, and post brand specific plus engaging.
Conceptualize content for each of the days, and create the content. Know what you are posting, and the time you will be posting. Curating a pre-conceptualized calendar helps you stay consistent and stay connected with your ideal audience.
Step 3. Execute
Once you have a social media plan consisting of platforms to reach your audience and a strategic content calendar based on the information gathered about your ideal customer segment, you need to make sure your messaging stays consistent and you are creating quality content to reflect your business.
One of the main reason some businesses are discouraged by social media is due to low engagement or no engagement.
Businesses tend to forget that social media platforms are not the same as their store. Customers on social media are not the same as a customer who visit your e commerce or your physical store. People in general use social media to be entertained, and see what their friends are up to. It is a social platform. As a business, you have to follow the rules. Entertain them. Provide valuable content to get their attention.
Don't be discouraged if you do not have any engagement in the beginning. It is a process much like building your business. And to build your following and community online you need to be consistently delivering.
Deliver quality content your audience wants to see consistently.
While executing your plan, make sure the choice of content "images, writing, videos, graphics" all reflect your brand messaging.
This is where a lot of businesses fail.
Creating content that looks sub par to your offering will reflect poorly on your business. Take high quality images, write sweet and short messages, and create videos that are fun and entertaining to watch, all in bite size.
Since you have a content calendar in hand, follow it consistently, but don't be afraid to post content that may not be on your plan like new promotion, events, new product release etc. The plan is there to guide you regularly. A lot of times, we get overwhelmed by the urgency of post so having an idea already on content calendar helps you post on regular basis.
Follow the content calendar from step 3. and facilitate engagement on your social media platforms. If someone has taken the time to post a comment, address them.
It takes some time, and consistent effort, but following the plan on regular basis will attract the audience that your content is catering to.
Step 4. Evaluate
Lastly its important to keep track of efforts on social media platforms. Measure the outcome from your efforts and evaluate whether or not you were able to reach your goals.
Study your posting schedule, types of content, and audience engagement.
Look at the posts with highest engagement, analyze the content and the time it is posted at.
Every social media platform gives you some insight into the response from audience.
For instance, Facebook and Instagram have their own insight that provides data about your posts, engagement, impression, demographic and more!
There are lots of tools out there to help you measure your outcome:
Buffer: management and analytics
Hootsuite: management and analytics
Once you go through Steps 1-4, repeat the cycle over again.
Gather data from your first month, examine what works and what doesn't then come up with better strategy for the following month.
There is no fixed social media strategy for business, each business is unique, and so are their audience. Having a standardized plan, executing accordingly and evaluating it will help you construct a customized plan catering to your business and ideal audience.