The Importance of Social Media Strategy

Less than a decade ago, social media marketing was becoming the next big thing in marketing and for a while, it seemed like the only thing. It was viewed as an independent system but smart marketers have realized that social media is one of several channels that combine to form a holistic inbound marketing program.

Still, compared with other channels, social media’s growth is staggering. According to HubSpot’s 2015 Social Media Benchmarks Report, Twitter has 284 million monthly active users. Instagram has 300 million and Facebook has nearly 1.5 BILLION monthly active users. That’s about the size of the entire population of China. And PewResearch says that 74% of adults aged 18 and over use social networks.

A social media strategy is no longer a luxury. You must create and share remarkable content and valuable information on the social web, engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand. There are almost as many ways to create social media as there are social media users, but I believe any social media strategy should have these four cornerstones, at minimum:

1. Clear purpose and measurable goals – like every other component of your marketing program, social media must be tied to a clear purpose and measurable goals. What’s your objective in using social media? Are you trying to build “X” number of followers in a certain period of time? Do you expect social media to generate “X” number of leads? Identify your goals and define the metrics you’ll use to measure success. Sounds obvious but so many marketers make the mistake of jumping into the social media channel without having a specific purpose or a way to measure effectiveness.

2. Budget and resources – social media is a hungry beast that must be fed constantly. Make sure you have enough money and staff (or contractors) to keep your social media efforts flowing seamlessly. I’m not talking about quantity here. In fact, HubSpot’s benchmark survey revealed that flooding social media doesn’t necessarily increase engagement with potential buyers. For example, the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry has an average social following of 370,321, and posts 6.02 times per week on average across all networks. The real estate industry, on the other hand, averages more than 19 posts every week but only has a social following of slightly more than 100,000. Opt for high-quality, compelling posts that inspire, excite and attract followers. Devote enough resources to make that happen, and to monitoring your efforts (see next section).

3. Commitment to monitoring – social media can’t be ignored and you need to respond to people talking about your brand (or your company or employees or products). Monitoring social media requires time and effort, often across multiple departments and among multiple employees. According to HubSpot, 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour. Be sure you have resources to monitor everything from hash tags to search engines (in real-time), identify any red flags, and assign someone (or a team) to the task. In a crisis you’ll need to stop all promotion including ads, social media posts, emails … everything (see next section).

4. Social media crisis plan – from negative comments to natural disasters, it’s important to have a proper response plan for your social media channels. Sometimes, social media mistakes are minor annoyances but other times they can have a disastrous impact on your brand and your business’ bottom line. When a social media crisis arises, you need to be prepared:

  • Ask yourself whether this is a real crisis.
  • If it is, own it. (Quickly.)
  • Implement your crisis plan.

As with any other crisis, a well-thought out plan, created BEFORE YOU NEED IT, will pay dividends when the time comes.

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