Social media was once considered a forbidden zone in the eyes of businesses. Today, social media is front and center in marketing and PR plans. An online presence is meaningful engagement with your internal and external stakeholders. Creating a website is simply not going to cut it, your content won’t come close to reaching its potential audience without carefully considered content and social network engagement. Many people have personal pages separate from anything work or business related, but the same principles cannot be applied when creating a business page. Here is a basic list of things to be considered before getting your business out there in the Social sphere.

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What are your objectives?
It is crucial to have a clear understanding of what exactly you want to achieve. Each social media platform can be used to serve different purposes, it’s a good idea to understand your objectives in order to be able to make the most out of each social platform. Here’s a list of common business objectives for social networking:

  • To position your organization as an employer of choice
  • To drive more traffic to your website
  • Improve your reputation
  • Provide customer service
  • Generate more sales

Know your audience
Spend time figuring out who your target audience is, where to find them and the best way to reach out to them. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool to directly target your existing and potential networks.

Your presence on social media
Once objectives have been made and you have a hold on who your audience is, the next step is to figure out which platform(s) to use. It is important to pick the network(s) where the greatest proportion of that audience is spending most of their time. You can find statistics about who is using each social network at Socialbakers.

Levels of engagement
shutterstock_134112389Decide on the times of day, day(s) and number of times per day your business posts. The most often you post relevant content, the higher your levels of engagement. A business positions itself online through its actions. A high level of intellectual and emotional commitment is required to engage effectively. Level of engagement can be divided into groups:

 

  • Champions – those who know and care and like to be involved in online conversations
  • Loose cannons – those who care but aren’t informed enough to have input
  • Bystanders – those who know but don’t care enough to contribute to online conversations
  • Weak links – those who neither know enough to comment and don’t care

Resourcing
Commonly, businesses reaction to resourcing social media channels is, “it takes too much time and we don’t have the resources”. Focus on the outcomes. Choosing to use social media may mean redeployment of resources, not great investment. If social media communication can achieve objectives, it’s worth the investment. Content planning drives efficiency and creates consistency. Creating a content calendar can identify sources of information that your stakeholders will find interesting, and want to engage with. Play up promotion for key events and build them up on your social media accounts. Here’s some aspects to asses to gain maximum efficiency:

  • Time vs. impact
  • Staff level of experience
  • Supporting tools
  • Content planning

Online social media management tools
There are many tools available to help business’ manage multiple social media accounts from one venue. These tools save an abundance of time and include features such as scheduling content ahead of time and basic analytics on your social media activity. Many of these tools are free, but the paid tools, with additional features, cost just around $10 per month. Here’s a list of some of the popular social media management tools:

  • HootSuite
  • Buffer
  • SproutSocial
  • Social Flow

Timing
Being aware of when your target audience is online and utilizing their social media accounts is key. It is pointless to post meaningful and engaging content at times when no one is online to read/interact with it. Experiment with posts and test posting content at different times of the day to find results in higher interaction. Use this insight to plan your content schedule.

Building a community
Be discerning. It’s better to have a small number of high quality followers than a large amount of superfluous “likers”. Here’s an example:

  • LinkedIn offers a feature to create a private group. This enables the group administrator to act as a gateway and only permit those they feel would be valuable to the community to join the group. Use this to your advantage.

Visual Representation
Remember that social media is a marketing tool to your business. Each platform must overall reflect the brands visual identity. As each platform is different, bespoke graphic representation must be created for each to create a visual flow across all online presence.

Risk Management
Although the hopes for social media content is positive messaging, there always needs to be a plan of action in line in case anything negative were to happen. Develop an internal set of social media guidelines and policy; a document that outlines what could go wrong and what action to take in that event. Provide this document to new employees to help them understand how your business uses social media and how to uphold the values of company and express the brand when posting.

Marketing_113329789Social media is a key marketing tool for all businesses today. Find out which social networks would be most beneficial to your company and the ways that you can utilize these efforts to get the best possible results. Call Brandon at beMarketing today and we can help you execute a successful social networking plan for your business and be at the top of your industry; .