Social media, in absolute layman terms, can be described as an electronic medium to share your thoughts, views, and opinions in various formats such as text, pictures, videos, etc to a virtual community and engage in conversations with them as well. Due to the ever-increasing number of active users on social media accounts, it has emerged as the new space for businesses especially the SMEs to increase brand awareness and promote their products and services in an engaging, highly targeted, and cost-efficient manner. Here's a step-by-step guide as to how to harness the potential of social media for business development.
1. Drafting a Plan
Like every other major task or implementation, social media marketing starts with building an initial framework based on your understanding of the brand and the customers. For this, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
a) What message do we intend to convey through our efforts?
The answer to this question requires you to have a clarity with regards to your goals. Every organization has its own expectations of outcomes from social media marketing according to their requirements. For instance, a new industry entrant may use it to create brand awareness whereas an established organization may want to utilize it for maintaining and subsequently increasing its customer base.
Goal setting can be done using the S.M.A.R.T. framework that entails that the goals should be:
Specific: The goal needs to be attributed to a particular aspect or component such as the number of likes, comments, etc.
Measurable: The components should be defined by a specific quantity and not left vague.
Attainable: It is better to set small goals in the beginning and gradually increase it than setting a big goal that may lead to wastage of resources and efforts.
Relevant: The set goals should be in alignment with the organizational objectives.
Time-bound: Setting a deadline would ensure timely completion and review.
"Increasing the number of followers on Instagram account of the brand to 1000 followers by the end of the month." This is a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
b) Who are we targetting?
Based on your product and services, you need to zero down on a target demographic of potential customers that share certain similar attributes that can lead to them engaging with the brand.
A company selling headphones may target youngsters between the age of 15 and 30 who are more inclined towards gadgets and hence use them regularly.
c) When should we execute the campaign?
Time is a vital component in social media marketing as well. Based on your instincts, you need to set the frequency and time for posting content that is suited to your target segment.
A brand targetting working profesionals will not schedule the posts on weekdays during working hours due to less visibility.
Note: Ensure that the posting schedule is neither incessant nor sporadic. Constantly spamming the viewer's feed with the marketing content may demotivate them from engaging whereas the irregular schedule defeats the purpose of your social media presence.
2. Using the Right Platform
Based on your understanding of the set goals and the segment to be targetted, you need to choose the right platform to execute your efforts. Some of them are mentioned below:
Facebook is the most popular social media app used by billions of people and can be the ideal option if you want to target a large audience. Apart from business listing, Facebook also provides a comprehensive and elaborate Ads Manager that allows you to create ads, target a specific demographic, and monitor the performance of your campaigns as well. In comparison to other platforms, Facebook offers a wider audience as well as versatility with regards to the content that can be posted.
Due to its emphasis on visual content, Instagram has started gaining a lot of popularity in recent times and has emerged as a new market for social media marketing. The challenge however lies in creating short, sweet, and engaging content that piques the interest of the viewer while keeping the messaging intact. Instagram also provides various services to business accounts by enabling sponsored ads as well as stories. The Insights tools also helps in tracking the various engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and comments.
LinkedIn is a niche social media platform meant for working professional and industry experts. Hence, it is a good platform if your firm is B2B specifically targeting the industry people due to its efficiency in lead generation. LinkedIn provides marketing solutions in the form of the Campaign Manager to generate a variety of ads and efficiently monitor them.
3. Time to Execute
Keeping the above-mentioned points in mind, you need to curate content that encapsulates your brand identity while engaging with the target audience. As pointed out earlier, scheduling is paramount. It is recommended to plan before-hand and design 5-6 posts in one go and schedule it accordingly. You can also implement paid ads and sponsored posts for a better reach. These ads can be customized according to your budget and the attributes you set for your target audience.
4. Analyze the Metrics
Using the in-built tools, you can track various metrics on the basis of your social media goals. These help you determine your rate of success with regards to conveying your intent. Some of those are listed below:
Engagements: The number of likes, comments, shares, and retweets on a post.
Impressions: The total number of times a post has been displayed on a social media feed.
Reach: Potential number of viewers a post could have when it is published.
Conversion: It happens when a purchase is made on our site via a social media channel.
5. Engage and Plan Ahead
Ensure you keep your social media active by constantly interacting with the audience and acknowledging their feedback. This would help in maintaining a positive image of the brand.
As social media marketing is an iterative process involving continuous experimentation, you need to try different combinations until you reach the one that resonates the most with the audience. Hence, constant monitoring is a must.
"Plan. Post. Analyze. Repeat."
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