We've all seen lists for things you need to be doing on social media - engage, listen, communicate, etc., right? Well I don't know about you, but we are usually fed up by the vague information in such posts. How can you take action to begin “engaging?” What do you do before you engage?
At Social Fulcrum, we have a process for coming up with the social media campaigns that drive our clients wild. Instead of telling you to communicate or to listen, we want to give you some actionable tips you can use to jumpstart your social media strategy - TODAY.
1. Do Your Research
Look for communities, influencers, and discussions that relate to your brand, products, competitors, and industry. Look into how you could potentially target key audiences through different media. Don't just limit yourself to Facebook pages/groups and Twitter users. Look into bloggers in your industry (or outside your industry) that have an audience you want to reach. Look at relevant Meetup groups locally and nationally. Find discussions in online forums. If you are a small company, find discussions about your industry. If you are a larger brand, we recommend using a social media measurement tool to assess the online landscape of your brand mentions to help formulate your strategy. These are all potential areas to generate content, seed content, find ambassadors, and get online placements. But you can only reap these benefits if you know where and if these communities exist!
2. Build Relationships First
When I was creating the strategy for a national food association's social media marketing campaign, we knew we would want to promote their Facebook page, Twitter account, and video contest through influential bloggers in the cooking, foodie, and mom verticals. Instead of simply reaching out to those bloggers and asking them to promote our properties, we made sure to first build our relationship with these influencers. Our first communication to these bloggers was to offer promoting THEIR content to OUR audiences. We wanted to show that we were keeping in mind their goals (increasing readership), and not simply self-interested. We nurtured these relationships for months before letting them know that we had a contest that we were promoting. At that point, they had received so much benefit from the relationship that every single blogger was happy to promote our contest. And the association still has those relationships to this day!
3. Leverage Twitter Targeting Options
Too often businesses will create a Twitter account and then not know what to do with it. Once your profile is set up, you can use the following strategies to find your opportunities on Twitter:
Search for accounts that have followers who are in your target audience. For example, if you are a local pizza chain, all you need to do is find another local business with a decent amount of followers, and follow all the followers of that account (gradually, not all at once). You can safely assume that a vast majority of the people following a local business in your area are located in that local area. Not a local business? Try trade publications, competitors, or thought leaders.
Search for people tweeting about a need that your product/service alleviates. For example, in our campaign for the national food association we mentioned above, we found that people on Twitter were commonly complaining about a lack of ideas for what to eat. Armed with an online database of 700+ recipes, we reached out to these people and found out what type of food they liked, and sent them an appropriate recipe. This gained awareness for our client's website, Twitter account, and recipe database, and also built goodwill with our audience (which we later leveraged to promote a video contest).
Use the advanced search on Twitter to search bio information. This is especially useful for B2B companies looking to increase their social impact. People will typically list their job title in their bio (e.g. CMO, COO, CEO, Executive Director, Partner), allowing you to target the specific decision makers with whom you are trying to communicate.
4. Explore & Leverage Facebook Advertising
There are few businesses that can’t benefit from the precise, unique targeting available through Facebook’s advertising platform. Even B2B companies can find value in Facebook ads if you can get creative with the parameters. For example, Social Fulcrum used Facebook ads to grow our own Facebook page by targeting users who are over 40 years old and who “like” the Harvard Business Review, because this audience includes senior-level decision makers at mid to large size corporations. Facebook Advertising can be an effective method for driving traffic to a website, as well as for increasing the size of your Facebook fan base, for just a few dollars per day. The key is finding the right targeting parameters, which might include users who “like” a competitor, users who “like” something your target audience probably likes, or even users who have a birthday within the next week.
5. Create a Content Calendar
There’s nothing worse than a Facebook page or Twitter account that’s filled entirely with self-promoting updates. It’s not always easy to come up with awesome, engaging content every day, but tweeting another link to your website is not the answer. That’s why it helps to create a weekly or monthly content calendar in advance to help you think strategically about what to post and when, being sure to schedule promotional updates at a maximum of one time per week. Your social media channels are not a constantly updating advertisement for your business. If you aren’t sharing interesting content, asking questions, and making your fans and followers feel valued, they’ll soon wonder why they’re connected to your account in the first place.
These specific tips can help any business better utilize social media to achieve organizational objectives. Though only the beginning steps to a stellar social media campaign, these tips allow for architecting a social media strategy that leverages brand assets and social media tools to get your brand in front of the right people and ultimately, grow your business.
Andrew Krebs-Smith, Founder of Social Fulcrum, has managed social media campaigns for accounts including Pfizer, Ocean City MD, The National Aquarium, and Strayer University. Andrew regularly speaks at the university level regarding social media marketing, and has held the position of Social Media Co-Chair at the American Advertising Federation, Baltimore Chapter. Connect with Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.