Explore insights about digital marketing, social media and branding.
Explore insights about digital marketing, social media and branding.
In Europe, nearly half of companies maintain at least one social media channel like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. These businesses primarily use social media to build brand image, to market products and to obtain consumer knowledge. Despite these beneficial uses of social media, for it to actually have a positive effect on sales, it needs to be well-managed. And for many businesses, this proves to be a challenge.
According to a survey conducted by Clutch, social media marketeers face three main issues in their work:
Formulating a social media strategy will help to tackle these challenges – if the strategy includes eight key components.
Before writing down any concrete goals or tactics, it is important to conduct a social media audit. The purpose of such an audit is:
Although the metrics will vary from company to company, a social media audit should cover at least the following points:
Besides conducting an audit for your own channels, it is recommendable to also analyze your competitors’ channels. By looking at your competitors’ social media channels, you can generate new ideas and identify opportunities for your own channels. Another way to generate ideas is by researching emerging trends on social media in your business ecosystem. Taking all these findings together, your audit should conclude with useful learnings that will guide your social media strategy.
After conducting the social media audit, you will have gained a better understanding of where you currently are. The next step is to set social media goals. Social media goals should always follow the SMART framework:
To give you some inspiration, here are a few examples of SMART social media goals:
Before diving into specific tactics to achieve your social media goals, it is important to revise or establish your brand persona and voice. Formulating clear brand guidelines for your social presence ensures consistency in your communication. Although you may use different social media channels for different purposes, how you talk to your audience on all those channels should be stable.
In order to define your brand persona for social media, you should ask yourself: “With which three adjectives do I want my audience to describe my brand?” The adjectives you choose should resonate with your customers, because customers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality is similar to their own.
To help, scholar Jennifer Aaker developed a brand personality framework that includes 57 attributes that brands can be described with:
Based on your chosen three attributes, you should come up with clear communication instructions for social media, such as:
After formulating your brand persona, it is time to determine your social media tactics to achieve your objectives:
When it comes to content, the most important thing is that it is relevant, of quality and useful for your target audience. A great way to measure what content best engages your audience is by conducting A/B tests on a regular basis.
Now that you have figured out what you want to do, it is time to establish what tools you need and how much they will cost. Some basic questions to consider are:
Make sure to have a solid business case prepared that showcases how your social media activities will contribute to the success of the business. And each year you should keep next year’s budget pitch in mind and collect data along the way that will make pitching easier.
Once the budget is confirmed, you can start planning your social media activities. There are dozens of free templates available online to help you structure your social media content. Although your calendar can be as elaborate as you want it to be, it should only contain useful information, it should be easy to use, and it should be easy to obtain data from the calendar.
Keeping that in mind, some points your content calendar should cover are:
If you do not have the time or resources to plan your posts manually in an Excel sheet, there are plenty of social media management tools available (e.g. Hootsuite) that allow you to easily plan and monitor your social media posts. Besides planning your actual posts, it is also important to write down key dates in your calendar, such as upcoming campaigns, events, holidays and reporting periods.
Even though we all wish crises would never happen, you have to consider the possibility. Even for small companies it is important to have a crisis management plan in place that details:
Having a critical response plan will minimize the impact of scrutinizing events on social media. However, the best way to tackle crises is by being pro-active. In addition to a critical response plan, your contingency plan should also entail a monitoring strategy that specifies the terms, names, hashtags, etc. that should be monitored for your company. As discussed in one of my previous articles, monitoring is vital for identifying and responding to external issues and crises on social media before they spiral out of control.
Last but not least, your social media strategy should include measures for determining whether or not your efforts have been successful. These Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be based on what you can actually do to influence the achievement your objectives.
There are two types of KPIs: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative KPIs focus on numerical values and their growth or decline over time. Examples are:
Qualitative KPIs are usually measured on a post by post basis and look primarily at the sentiment of the comments.
When deciding what metrics to measure, ask yourself:
Once you have chosen your KPIs, it is important to measure them at regular intervals (e.g. quarterly, annually, etc.). That way you can gain insights into which strategies work well for you and which do not, and adjust course as necessary.
In the upcoming years, more and more consumers will turn to social media for purchasing decisions, and companies without social media strategies in place could lose potential customers. Formulating a social media strategy that incorporates all key components will help companies to invest their time the right way, while getting more results and more value for money.
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