While simply getting your brand out on social media is a good first step — especially if you’re a small business owner with limited time and resources — you want to make sure that everything you are posting on social media is worth the effort you are putting into it. As you think about how to approach the time you dedicate to your social media activities. Here are a few strategic building blocks to take into account. If you can touch upon each of the things I've listed below you will be well on your way to implementing an effective social media strategy.
1. Align your goals.
Understanding the reasoning behind what you post will quickly prove that a social media strategy is about more than posting. You may push out a message or two, but are those messages actually contributing to your overall digital strategy? And do they align with your overall end game?
Map your overall goals to your social media goals. For example, if your aim is to have more people know about your product, then set brand awareness goals. Doing so will allow you to apply direct tactics to get your message across in the most effective way.
2. Concentrate on the networks that are relevant to your business.
There is real fear among companies that they need to be active on every social media network. But what if your target audience isn’t active on Twitter or Snapchat? Your time is valuable, so don’t spend it unnecessarily. The impact of your social media strategy will be far greater if you focus on where your target audience is most active — and that's likely not every single network.
3. Define how to measure success.
With any digital strategy, make sure that the efforts you are investing in social media are giving you the results that you need. This is where key performance metrics come into play. KPIs will keep you on track and focused on what you want to achieve.
Go back to your social media goals and map a KPI to each of them. If your goal is product brand awareness, your KPI might be reaching 100 post likes on Instagram, or 25 new page likes per month on Facebook. Having an end goal will help you craft the right message to get there.
4. Build strong content.
Knowledge is power! With a good understanding of the above goals, metrics, and network preferences, you are well positioned to start creating valuable content that speaks to your target audience and moves your strategic needle forward.
Mix it up! Vary both the format (text, images, video) and type (interviews, reports, blogs) of content you post. Too much of the same can get old quickly, and don't forget to include relevant hashtags whenever possible.
5. Set a schedule.
Timing is everything! So, you need to know when to schedule your post. Adhering to a social media schedule may feel troublesome to commit to, but it will make you more productive and allow you to publish when your audience is most likely to engage.
Use a social media management tool. There are lots of powerful ones out there. A couple of my favorites are ZOHO and Hootsuite. They allow you to schedule all of your posts in one place and have it decide when the best times are to post (e.g., Sprout Social). Some are free, others are not. Decide what makes the most sense for your goals, time and return on investment.
6. Track and improve.
While it may feel like yet another investment of time, sitting down at least once a month to look at the numbers will go a long way toward making you more efficient. You can’t report success or get better if you don’t know what's happening.
For a base look at how your social platforms are performing, the tools themselves provide a good breadth of data for you to analyze. In terms of how much time to spend on reporting, the 25% rule might be a good place to start.
Time is money, so be as strategic as you can to return a profit — whether that’s an increase in sales or more support for your cause. If you can devote a bit of time to each of these items, you’re off to a good start. If, however, that feels like a stretch right now, then take it one step at a time. Above all, be deliberate in your approach. Don’t just post for posting's sake. If you can remain focused on reaching specific goals, your social media activities will be worth the effort you put into them.