Developing a Social Media Strategy

If marketing is about putting your message where your audience hangs out (which it is), then social media is a no brainer. That said, many businesses fail to fully leverage social media in their marketing plans. They dabble, sure, but their strategic efforts end with content and advertising.

Today, 79% of the US internet users, are on Facebook. Six out of ten Americans stay updated on news through social media, while 35% have used social media to look for or research a job. And these same numbers are reflected worldwide. Is it any wonder marketers are going social to grow their business?

Trouble is that “going social” isn’t as easy as it looks. There’s a lot more to social media marketing than simply posting to Facebook and Twitter.

Methods of Well-Executed Social Media Marketing

There are 4 stages in a successful social cycle:

  • Listening
  • Influencing
  • Networking
  • Selling

All 4 of these stages are key to reaching social media success. But all of it hinges on Stage 1: Social Listening.

Listening gives you the insights you need to perform the other 3 stages well. It helps you develop a strategy that will give you influence, a strong network, and lots of leads and sales.

The key, of course, is to get your information in front of your prospects and customers where they hang out online. For most businesses, that includes one or more of these top social networking sites. Social media marketing isn’t about hanging out with your prospects and customers. It’s about executing the social cycle while minimizing costs—which means you need to master the methods and metrics for all 4 of the stages.

1. Social Listening

As with any marketing strategy, you need to start with your target audience. That’s why social media marketing starts with listening. This is key to creating a successful social strategy. Whether you’re paying attention or not, people are talking about you and reaching out to you on the social web. They’re sharing their experiences with your products. They’re talking about the things you’re saying or doing. They’re even asking you questions.

Some comments, like these, are positive. You’ll want to celebrate them—and respond with a great big thank-you.

Other comments aren’t so positive (and some are downright negative). They need immediate attention so followers know you’re present and accessible. It’s a lot like customer support. And in the same way, it can help or hurt your public perception.

Every day, your social phone is ringing. If you don’t answer, it leaves a bad impression. On the social web, it’s a bit like leaving your customer service lines unattended. But when you do answer the call, listening and responding appropriately, you can connect with your fans and followers, find and fix issues you may not be aware of, and build incredible good will. The key, of course, is to make listening your #1 priority and use your insights to inform the other 3 stages of the social success cycle.

2. Social Influencing

At this stage, your aim is to lead and direct your followers’ opinions, attitudes, and behaviors. And since you’ve been listening, it’s relatively easy. You already know the trending topics and conversations taking place, so adding your authority voice is the natural next step. What are the signs that your influence is growing?

  • You get more engagement – people retweeting or sharing your posts, and people responding to your posts.
  • Your traffic numbers increase – people click on your links.
  • You develop a greater mindshare – people share their questions, thoughts, and opinions with you, and they eagerly seek interaction with you.
  • You become a recognized authority and a brand people watch.

Keep in mind, this stage of the success cycle is influenced by the social listening you did in Stage 1. But the reality is that you’ll continue listening at every stage. In fact, once the cycle is going, you’ll perform every stage every day.

Goals for Social Influencing

During this phase of the social success cycle, you’re trying to:

  • Increase engagement with your brand and your content.
  • Start conversations around the topics related to your business.
  • Boost traffic to your site.
  • Build awareness of your products and offers.
  • Grow your retargeting list.

3. Social Networking

It’s at this stage of the social cycle that you connect with other influencers and authorities and begin to move the needle. Social networking is important for all businesses, whether you’re just getting started, scaling, or expanding into new markets. It may help to think of social networking as a live event—except your interactions are online rather than face-to-face. After all, networking is networking, no matter where (or how) it happens. And it can lead to deep and lasting relationships, both with your followers and potential partners.

The Process of Social Networking

Each time you publish an article on your blog, produce a new piece of content, or have a new offer, you’ll create social media posts designed for the channels you’re posting to (think “native” content) that get the word out. You’ll share valuable content from peers and, yes, even your competitors. If it relates to your brand’s primary topic and helps your followers, it’s worth sharing. You’ll also engage with people one-on-one, both asking and answering questions.

Goals for Social Networking

During this stage of the social success cycle, your aim is to:

  • Share content that fills gaps left from your own content. This content may relate topically or target people at different skill levels.
  • Create good will with brands that are similar to yours.
  • Over time, transform that good will into profitable partnerships.

4. Social Selling

The fourth and final stage of the social success cycle is social selling. This is where social media marketing gets interesting. Finally, after listening to your prospects, building authority in your space, and establishing a strong network, you can start putting your offers in front of people—and converting them.

What does good social selling look like?

The short answer is funnels. But you’ll use multiple channels for getting people into those funnels, from blogging to retargeting to pay-per-click advertising. So, for instance, you’ll lead with blog content that’s perfectly targeted to your audience, and in that content, you’ll embed an opt-in offer. Then you’ll promote the content in social media (leveraging Stages 2 and 3 of this cycle). Your social promotion will direct traffic to your content, where they’ll see your offer. If they respond, you’ll immediately make an upsell offer—a low-priced product designed to convert your new lead quickly into a customer. We call that entry-level product a tripwire.

But what if a visitor doesn’t respond to your offer?

You’ll retarget them with a relevant ad, so they receive multiple touches that could lead to a conversion after they leave your site. The ad takes them to a funnel, where they’re offered the same (or a related) lead magnet—and then an entry-level product. Of course, you should also try to upsell and cross-sell to existing customers.

For example, if they buy a patio cover, they’re probably in the market for patio furniture. Retarget them with the next logical offer.

The point is this: Don’t simply create one offer. Create a buying path that boosts the lifetime value of every customer.

Goals for Social Selling

Your goals at this stage are to:

  • Generate leads to grow your email list.
  • Acquire new customers and upsell/cross-sell existing customers.
  • Increase buyer frequency, turning one-time customers into raving fans.

References:

Digital Marketer. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing. Course Hero. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/file/94978188/Ultimate-Guide-to-Digital-Marketingpdf/