Social media is the ultimate word of mouth. You want your message to spread as far as possible and you can ensure that it gets you positive results by following some simple guidelines; determine your objectives, identify your target audience, select the best platform, get a qualified manager, remain consistent, partner with influencers, measure your results, then adjust your strategy based on those results.

Determine Your OKR

The best way to improve is to set goals for yourself. With a specific objective guiding you, you can track your progress and determine with certainty that you did improve because you’ll have the metrics to prove it, even if you fall short of your goal. It’s not enough to say you want to achieve “more,” you have to be specific.

Successful goal setting follows the SMART strategy:

Specific

Vague goals like “get more business” don’t help companies pinpoint their objectives and create measures of success. Goals must nail down exactly what is expected of the initiative.

Measurable

You have to be able to quantify your success so that you know you achieved it. Measure, track, and analyze any data that’s relevant to your goal.

Attainable

Goals that are beyond reach cause people to be frustrated and lose confidence. Having to stretch to hit a goal is productive but don’t set unrealistic expectations.

Relevant

A social media marketing goal needs to tie into your overall marketing goal. Is it to build an audience? Increase website traffic? Strengthen branding? Make sure the goal relates to the bigger picture.

Timely

Dates and times keep you accountable to your goals. Stay on track by breaking up a large project like this into mini-goals that each has its own deadline.

Identify Your Target Audience

You don’t want to waste time, money, or energy developing content and campaigns to try and sell to people who aren’t at all interested in what you’re selling. The people who buy motorcycles are different from the people who buy minivans. The people who buy cereal that’s high in fiber are different from the people who buy cereal that’s high in sugar.

Review happy clients

Clients that have been pleased by a company’s product or service are prime starting points when building a buyer persona. Study their industries, demographics, and their goals closely to understand who you should be targeting.

Nail down pain points

What problem do you solve? What questions do you answer? How do you make your buyer’s job easier? Only by thoroughly understanding this can an organization show their value.

Survey customer support

Talk to the people who are on the front lines. What are the questions they hear most often? Knowing this shows you the direction to take in the content that will most likely engage and interest your audience.

Select the Best Platforms

Just like how different people buy different products, those same people use different social networks and are in different frames of mind when they’re there. It’s not always the best practice to create the same content for Snapchat that you do for Facebook, because the people using those two platforms are looking for very different things while they’re there.

What you have to offer and who your target audience is are the keys to picking the right platform. Attracting attention on Facebook is your best bet to sell to consumers. Instagram is the place to reach out to young people. Grow your presence on LinkedIn if your company is B2B.

If you still aren’t sure where to start, look at your competitors. Don’t just look at where they are, but what they’re doing there. What type of content are they posting? How is their engagement? Do their followers look like your target audience? What kinds of ads are they running?

Successful social media marketing takes chunks of time to manage. It’s far better to choose one or two channels and really invest in them than five or six channels and get spread too thin.

Employ a Qualified Manager

When you’re entrusting your brand and image to someone, you want to make sure that you pick the right person. You don’t want to hire someone young just because they grew up with social media, you want to hire someone qualified.

One of the mistakes companies frequently make is to choose the person who has the lightest schedule or the cheapest per hour rate with no regard for whether or not they have the right qualities for the job.

Strategic thinking

A social media manager doesn’t need to know everything about content, campaigns, and platforms right out of the gate. The key is to find someone who can think things through, ask the right questions, and then find the answers. Someone who can solve problems and find creative ways to reach the goals you’ve set. 

At the very least, they need to understand how to lay out posts, choose content, and engage with followers in a professional way.

Organization

Running social media campaigns demands someone that can lay out the strategy in a step-by-step approach. They need to have a handle on their time and control of their calendars. Posting “when they remember” won’t do much to move the needle.

Professionalism

They may not be the face of the company but they are definitely the voice. It’s important for the social media manager to understand the company brand, possess strong grammar & spelling skills, and exhibit professionalism in all situations. You always want your brand to appear professional and not lose respect due to poor writing or poor responses to negative comments.

Post Consistently

An outstanding social media initiative is one that is nurtured constantly. Throwing up a blog here and a picture there won’t build a prosperous marketing strategy. It’s important to be consistent so that your audience knows what to expect and when. Sharing content randomly also won’t give people the impression that you’re taking this very seriously. People visiting your social pages want to be reassured that they will be reliably entertained or informed and that someone will answer if they ask a question.

If you need some inspiration or resources to help you create content consistently, check out this blog post.

Create content

Always keep the targeted buyer in mind when creating content. You can write blog posts, create infographics, take photos around your company, or even host a webinar. It’s also a great idea to get your employees involved in the process.

Curate content

We don’t have the time, money, or resources to create everything ourselves. Posting relevant industry information and articles written by others are additional ways to fill the social media calendar. Constantly asking for business turns people off. If you share industry-related content, especially if you attach some of your own thoughts to it, will help to establish you as a great resource for news or information in the field.

Listen and engage

There are tools that can help you track what competitors and your audience are talking about, which can provide valuable insights into what you should be sharing. Or, you could go the old fashioned way and talk to them. Pay attention to comments, respond to messages, and occasionally reach out to your audience and ask what they’d like to see from you.

Partner With Influencers

49% of people rely on influencers before making a purchase. Influencers have established credibility and people trust their recommendations. Work on finding and building a relationship with influencers in your field in order to extend your reach to whole new groups of potential customers.

We’ve hosted a webinar and written a guide to help you hire the right influencers for your brand.

Engage Your Audience

For social media marketing to be successful, companies need to find ways to increase engagement in the followers they have and the ones they want. That’s the “social” aspect of social media; it allows for two-way communication between your brand its (potential) customers.

Reach out

Social media management is not a one-way street. Reach out to new followers, answer questions, address issues, and comment & like other posts. You can conduct a lot of customer service through social media. Since it’s word-of-mouth on steroids, your actions will have a ripple effect that catches the attention of other people in your target audience.

Calls to Action

Regardless of your goals, calls to action are a common practice in social media marketing. It’s not always asking for someone’s business, but also asking people to read a blog post, post a comment, share an opinion, or take some other action.

Hashtags

Help your audience cut through the enormous amount of noise with valuable hashtags. Decide in advance on a list of hashtags that are relevant to your business and/or industry. These are neon signs of the internet that help your content get discovered by people who are already looking for it.

Measure Your Results

Close the loop by holding the results up to the goals you set and see how they compare. Otherwise, you won’t have any idea which strategies are paying off and which ones fell short. This will guide you on what actions to take next.

All of the following are available metrics but you want to pay attention to the ones that are related to your objectives.

Followers

Total up the number of new followers each social media platform received, and compare this number to the goal. Interesting social media platforms always consistently add new followers.

Engagement

Measure the amount of engagement the audience has with the posts. It’s positive if you are receiving retweets, shares, comments, and likes. Note which type of content gets the biggest responses.

Clicks

This is where the metrics start to show how social media efforts did, or didn’t, start moving the sales needle. Were there many clicks to your blog post or website? Did followers take that next step? The success of social media marketing depends on the ability to draw more visitors into the sales funnel.

Leads

It all comes down to this. Ultimately, successful social media marketing increases the number of qualified leads for the company. This is the metric that tells you the most about your efforts. Be patient. It takes time to nurture strangers into leads, even with fantastic content and consistent posting. But they will trickle in eventually if it’s done right.

Adjust

Metrics show you where you have been, and they also map out where you need to go. Companies need to take the metrics they gather and use them to massage their message.

Does one type of content create more engagement?
Is there a pattern of posts gaining more attention on certain days or particular times of day?
Does the content do better across one platform over another?

Use this data to edit and hone the strategy. You will see even greater results from social media marketing efforts.

Successful social media marketing poses a variety of challenges to businesses, and it’s easy to take a wrong turn and end up with results that are less than thrilling. It’s also common to start out excited but get burned out and lose commitment in the middle of your efforts.

Conclusion

Stay with it! There are a ton of different want to grow your numbers but they don’t always mean real, quality followers, likes, visitors, and leads. For a quality relationship with real followers, do the following:

  1. Determine your objectives
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Select the best platform for your brand
  4. Get a qualified manager
  5. Remain consistent
  6. Partner with influencers
  7. Engage your audience
  8. Measure your results
  9. Adjust your strategy based on those results.