Being A Social Media Hot-Shot in 2014……
Social Media community management can be a daunting task, cluttered inbox with several updates from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online communities with news about colleagues, friends and family. Sorting through it all would take up productive HOURS daily.
In this new digital age, I believe everyone can milk more value from a few hours of strategic planning on how best one can manage digital communications. Not only will you just save time but also better meet the needs/objectives of your digital network. This article is set to guide you through a clinical process to help you BE BETTER at your social media communications, BETTER meet the needs of those around you and become an effective and efficient social media professional.
STEP 1: RESEARCH
It is most imperative to kick off your social media strategic planning with research. In order to truly be effective on social media you need to know three things:
– WHO you are and what you offer.
– WHO your target audience is and what they want.
– WHAT is being offered already across the media landscape
YOU…That will be YOU asking yourself ‘Who you are’. This is a great exercise in aligning your core values with what you hope to accomplish with your social media communications. You should have a solid understanding around what you believe in and how that fuels/informs what you offer to the world. Spending a bit of time reflecting on your business, your passions and your talents will help you have a clear vision of WHO/THE BRAND you’ll be presenting online.
Once you understand who you are and what you offer, it’s time to determine if your current digital footprint is telling the right story. Google yourself to determine how visible you are online. Beginning to understand how OTHERS see you online is the first step to ensuring that your message is reaching your audience.
THEM…. Who are they? Who are you trying to reach anyway? What do they want?
This second component of your research should include a survey of your current audience or potential audience. You don’t want to GUESS at what the people who follow you online are looking for. ASK THEM! If you already have a following, use your social media channels to determine:
– WHY they are using social media?
– What social need are they trying to meet?
– Are you currently meeting their expectations?
– What do the need MORE of?
If you don’t currently have a social media following, survey your colleagues and friends via email or face-to-face interviews. Start asking questions and having conversations around the social media channels they use and why they use them.
The noise level out there is heavy and there’s a lot of clutter in the cyber space. You’re competing with thousands of other brands, businesses, bloggers, advertisers and countless others, all fighting for the attention of your/prospective online community. Take the time to discover:
– Who else is trying to speak to your target audience?
– Who is offering what you do and how are they using social media to connect?
– How can you differentiate yourself from the pack? Are there gaps where your target audience’s needs aren’t being met online? Find the gap. Fill the gap.
STEP 1: ACTION POINTS
– Google yourself.
– Survey your audience.
– Research your competition
Completing step 1 will provide you with insights to help drive a successful strategy.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. social media goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) that directly support your overall business objectives are essential to ensuring that your social media effort is time well spent.
– What do you really want to accomplish with your social media updates?
– Do you have objectives that reflect business goals?
Following your planned specific and measurable goals, it’s time to precisely determine WHO you are trying to reach. Defining your target audience segments will allow you to create tailor made content that will meet their specific needs – making you an invaluable resource. You will also be able to choose the relevant social media channels [where those people live]. There’s really no reason to engage on a social media platform if your target isn’t engaging there. One of the most important elements of your planning process is Social media channel selection.
Last but not LEAST in this planning process is CONTENT. You need to strategize your content to meet the needs of your audience. However, please note that Your community isn’t on social media to buy your product or service. So don’t try and push that content, they’ll tune out.
Plan content around their needs, not yours.
STEP 2 ACTION POINTS
- Create S.M.A.R.T. social media objectives
- Define your target audience segments
- Choose your social media channels
- Create a content strategy based upon your communities needs
STEP 3: LISTENING & ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
Every successful social media plan includes a listening strategy. [NOBODY wants to be sitting next to that guy who only talks about himself and doesn’t listen to others]. Don’t let this be YOU! Mapping into your plan, time to respond to those who are engaging with your social media content should be a top priority.
– Be sure to have a system in place that notifies you anytime someone mentions you on Twitter, shares or comments on your content.
– Recognize and reward your followers for taking the time to engage with you online.
A third party tool like Hootsuite can be a great resource for setting up a low-cost dashboard for ‘listening’ to and updating your online communities.
Once you are tuned in [listening], time to ENGAGE. You can create a consistent schedule to regularly update your chosen channels with GREAT content. Using a simple editorial calendar can be a good way to organize your topics and types of content. This can also be done manually [if you wish].
You can broaden the scope of what you share beyond your own site/blog posts.
STEP 3 ACTION POINTS
- Create a listening dashboard and set-up Google Alerts for your name
- Develop an editorial calendar and regularly schedule social media updates
Hmmmmm, We have reached that point: metrics & data.
Choosing and setting the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and taking the time to track them can give you the motivation you need to stay on track. Ensure you choose ACTIONABLE data points that align with your overall objectives. You are off to a great start by creating social media objectives that have a measurable outcome. Ask yourself,
– ‘What does success look like?’
– ‘Where would I like to be at the end of 2014?’
Choose metrics that help support these outcomes.
Below is a sample list of KPI’s. Establish your key metrics and create a baseline, so that you can track your improvements month – to – month.
- # of LinkedIn connections
- # of Twitter followers
- Total # of RT’s, Replies and mentions on Twitter
- # of comment, shares and ‘likes’ on Facebook
- # of Google+ circlers
- # of Instagram followers