By Drew Kobb
First off, what does it mean to “maximize” your social media campaign?
We’re essentially talking about two things: 1) raising popular awareness of your brand, and 2) increasing conversion rates (whether we’re talking sales or newsletter sign-ups).
The first sounds rather nebulous (at least until you hit a critical mass and know people are aware of your brand), but using Klout and spread sheets, you can definitely get a clear picture of your popularity and influence over time, and Google Analytics makes tracking the latter fairly simple.
Really though, social media is about being social, becoming a part of your customers’ social circles. The content you create, the discussions you start, the individuals you personally message to address bad customer experiences—they’re all about becoming part of the customers’ social circles. Just as their real life friends and acquaintances are accountable, so are you and your brand; in either case you gain similar benefits from your friendship.
So, how do we actually maximize those aspects of our social media campaign?
It Starts with Knowing Your Audience
Before you do anything, you need to know your audience. If you don’t know your audience, you’re essentially just casting your lines out into the aether. Who do you intend to reach with your tweet, pin, or status update? It’s all fine and good to say that you want to reach everyone. However, if you don’t tailor your messages for those who will see it, they will see it and ignore it. That, of course, does you no good.
You need to work up customer profiles. Research their demographics (age, gender, income, etc.). Where do they hang out—both online and offline? And what are they searching for? Is there a pattern to their personality type(s)? Most importantly, what are their behaviors? Do they like the same sports or have the same hobbies? When and what do they purchase? When are they active on social media?
Next you should prepare customer personas. You should have a persona for each identifiable subgroup of your customers. Give them faces and names, and describe how their days go—with searching and buying behavior at the fore. That way, you’ll have them in mind when you prepare content for different segments. It’s much easier to think of what Lucy wants than it is to think of what “Women, ages 35-50” want.
Manage Your Time
Once you know your audience, it’s time to go where they are. Most people have profiles all over the web, so there are dozens of sites where you can find your customers and potential customers. But you don’t have time to maintain a significant presence and sustain meaningful engagement on 30 different sites. A huge corporation can afford to hire a social media campaign team, but for the rest of us—at least until we become huge ourselves—we have to pick and choose where we’ll create a presence. (And, by the way, that huge corporation doesn’t bother with 30 either, though they may maintain significant presences on 15 of those in any given market.)
You know where they are—since you’ve done your market research—so pick the big four: a blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Then, pick one or two more based on your industry. If you’re in B2B sales, it’s a good idea to be active on LinkedIn. If you’re in the business of photography, you probably need to be active on Flickr.
First, figure out how much time you can devote to social media. If you only have 15 minutes a day during the workweek, you’ve got to be incredibly disciplined to get on and share or create something and then get off—and you may only be able to share 1-2 things on one venue each day. If you have an hour a day, it’s significantly easier, but you still need to stay on top of the different aspects of social media, from responding to praise and criticisms and sharing interesting and/or useful content, to identifying the major industry trends and customer concerns and creating your own useful and shareable content.
The next thing you need is an editorial calendar and a Buffer account—with Followerwonk. Having a concrete log of your upcoming posts, as well as proof of what you need to do—on which account on which day(s)—will help you keep up with the day-to-day tasks far into the future. The Buffer account will let you post relevant content at relevant times—but without demanding you spend all day online to do so.
What to Do on Each Site
Different social media venues demand different things when it comes to engagement and socializing. By and large, however, wherever you go and whatever you do, images do far better than plain text—even in blogs where the written content is assumed to be the main attraction.
Speaking of blogs, your blog needs to consistently address the major questions in your industry, which means you need to stay atop the current trends in your industry. If you’re answering the pressing questions, people will come to trust you, and they’ll come back to you. Your posts also need to have a catchy title and be easy to parse, structure-wise.
Facebook is unparalleled when it comes to promotions. Put up a catchy image and watch as your followers pass it around. Facebook also shines when it comes to highlighting your company events, or your company’s presence at various events, thanks to photo albums. Facebook is also the best spot for collecting general feedback, thanks to polling options. Also, when answering general questions and prompting discussions, Facebook works splendidly because it’s simple to follow comment threads there.
Twitter, on the other hand, is the place to let your brand’s personality shine. Take a conversational tone, throw out a few cat gifs, and come up with a fun hashtag to create some buzz. If you’re in the plumbing business, you’re probably thinking it’s difficult to get people excited about you; but, if you dress up as Mario and send out a simple tweet—“Just a regular day on the job!”—you’re bound to see an increase in engagement. Look no further than Oreo’s Twitter feed for a model. Twitter is also incredibly useful for directly, and in real-time, acknowledging customer concerns and complaints and engaging in conversations with individual customers. CEO Rick Schaden and Smashburger may not post much hilarity, but they at least understand the importance of swiftly responding to complaints. If you have to pick, go light on the former and heavy on the latter
Track Your Progress toward Clear and Attainable Goals
You need clear and attainable goals. Do you want to parlay your social media activity into 50 new leads over the next year? Or 500? What are you getting now? Regardless of what it is, keep track of it, and your progress. Seeing the movement will help you maintain the energy you need to keep up with the demands of a tight social media campaign. Use Klout to get a sense for how widely you’re known, and take advantage of the metrics in Google Analytics to see exactly how many people are coming in from your social media campaign.
Don’t be discouraged by slow-going periods, especially at the start. It takes time to gain traction, but keep it up and the metrics won’t be the only thing telling you that people are coming—so will your bottom line.
Drew Kobb, in addition to studying civil law, loves long distance running and considers himself a health and fitness enthusiast. His interests range all over the medical field, and Drew highlights that range on his blog, Dr. Ouch.