At Shooting Star, we work with clients to promote their product or service across a variety of social media channels depending on the nature of the business and what they want to achieve.
Firstly, start by setting out what you’d like to achieve by using social media; create some goals and ensure that they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) and align with your business objectives (eg grow client base by 25% in 12 months).
There are no real hard and fast rules on how things should be done when it comes to social media, only ideas for best practice. Here are our six top tips for creating a successful strategy.
1. Know your audience
You need to understand your target market so you know what they’ll be interested in and what channels they use. If you’re unsure, there are plenty of blogs available on the key demographics for each platform. For example, according to social media monitoring site tracx Facebook is still the most popular network and is predominantly used by females aged 18 to 49 while Twitter on is predominantly used by males aged between 18 and 29.
2. Create your content and choose your channel
Tailor your content to suit each channel rather than posting the same thing and don’t be tempted to link your channels as each has its own quirks. For example, on Instagram we share more informal ‘behind the scenes’ images which appeal to a younger audience while on Twitter we post company updates about new clients or award wins, for example.
We’d also advise creating a content calendar so you can take a strategic rather than ad hoc approach which is aligned to your marketing plan. Try your best to stick to it but don’t worry too much if you don’t as sometimes life gets in the way!
3. Listen, engage and embrace
Just because you’re not on social media it doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you. Social media is a great way of finding out what people think about your product or service and it provides an unrivalled opportunity to communicate directly with your target market. Use a social media monitoring tool to ensure that potentially damaging comments do not go unnoticed.
You can also use social media to find out what your target market is interested in and tailor your posts accordingly. Keep your content varied rather than constantly trying to advertise your business. Provide information and advice relevant to your sector and share other people’s content if it’s relevant to your target audience to help build relationships with potential partners, supplier and customers.
4.Choose your images carefully
Social media is becoming much more driven by images and videos; in December 2016, 500 million people were watching Facebook videos every day!
Our top tip would be to always ensure consistency in your branding, font and text. Make sure your images are sized correctly for the channel you’re using and videos include subtitles as most people watch videos on social media without sound.
Finally, don’t be afraid to mix it up a little: why not try using a combination of video and written testimonials? Sometimes even a screen print of a customer interaction or some positive feedback can be more powerful than anything you’ve created.
Want to know more? Check out our blog post on how to perfect your visuals for social media.
5.Test, evaluate and revisit
Don’t be afraid to revisit your plans; they serve as a guide and can be flexible. If something isn’t working, then don’t worry about changing it to suit your business or that moment in time. After all, it’s potentially damaging to your brand if you continue to do what isn’t working or bringing in the results you need, just because it’s ‘on the plan’.
Conversely, if something is going well, stick with it! Develop the idea and ask for feedback from your customers - you can always rely on the public for honest feedback and some of the best ideas come from simple comments or from customers.
No matter what the reason is for changing or prolonging your plans, just make sure you keep referring to your business goals and objectives to justify your decisions. Social media is huge and it’s easy to get distracted, but don’t lose sight of what you wanted to achieve in the first place.
6.Mix it up
It’s often said that variety is the spice of life, and it’s the same when it comes to social media.
It’s is a multi-way form of communication (the clue’s in the name), so if you spend all your time pushing out content that only serves to promote your products or service offering, you risk ‘turning off’ or alienating your following.
Therefore, a good measure to follow when creating content is the ‘rule of thirds’. Publish a variety of content that (1) promotes your business, (2) shares insight, thoughts and best practice from other industry experts or like-minded individuals and (3) engages and interacts with your followers.
These are just six of our top tips but there are a few other points worth considering. Having encountered businesses which have come unstuck after giving someone on work experience or a junior member of staff free reign over their social media accounts, we’d advise you to keep control, audit and make sure you trust the skills of the person in charge of your channels.
Of course, there have been examples of when handing over the control to a work experience student has paid off; most recently a 15-year-old boy named Eddie went viral on Twitter for all the right reasons as he managed the account for Southern Railway.
We’d also advise you to have a social media policy in place, which is a good way of ensuring everyone is clear on what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Encourage your teams to get involved and share content, but do keep a close eye on what’s going on.
Social media is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of marketing your business on a budget and is constantly evolving – which is why you should too. Immerse yourself and connect with people and businesses who’ll help promote you or present new opportunities for you; it’s not all about selling, it’s about building relationships too.