The biggest problem many businesses have with social media is that there is no clear-cut strategy. As it is a ‘new’ medium, many businesses overlook the importance in planning and strategizing how to make best use of social platforms.
Despite many big businesses’ approach — appointing the young intern in the office to manage your social media strategy — this isn’t really the best route to go, and a lot more effort needs to go into what you say, how you say it and even where it’s said.
1. Social media falls flat if you don’t have anything to say
Social media is all about creating, encouraging and facilitating conversation. But if you don’t have a topic to talk about, it’s pretty tricky to get chatting.
This is where your blog becomes very important, and like I say to many of my clients; your blog is the central hub of all your social media activity.
How can you expect to be engaging and interesting to consumers if you don’t have anything to say in the first place? Creating a platform that consumers can turn to for quality consistent content is the basis of building relationships in the social media space. Even if your business is in the B2B market, blogging and social media still have an important role to play.
2. Search is important
Besides creating content, having a blog is a great way to boost your SEO, SMO as well as SMI. Creating fresh relevant content around topics applicable to your business helps increase your search rankings, as well as positions you as an authority in your industry.
Blogging is more than just writing, it’s a strategy within itself. The copy needs to be written in such a way that it optimizes your blog post so that both the post and the website pages get higher rankings for specific keywords or keyword phrases.
This is where research becomes important, and understanding how people not only search for what you offer, but also what they value as useful information.
3. Know who you are competing against
Your competitors in the online space are not always the same as those in ‘real life’. We had one particular client operating in the traditional insurance brokerage industry — quite an old school mindset, male driven with a fairly traditional approach on their marketing and communication. After running some research they were astounded to realize that online their biggest competitor was First For Women. A very different audience, with a very different communication style.
From a strategic point of view their blog became very important in creating content that would appeal to a younger, and more female, audience in order to remain competitive and relevant to their digital savvy customers.
As a consumer, if you are looking for someone to provide a product, service, or even just information, a company that is creating regular blog posts on topics related to their industry, innovation and trends is going to rank a lot higher than one with a static brand page.
Once you start creating content, you then have things that you can talk about on social media.
4. The link to social
Creating content is a good way to establish yourself as a thought leader and respected authority in your industry, but how do you link this with your social media channels?
Your blog can’t stand alone, as it’s unlikely to drive traffic to your site or generate leads by itself. Without a strong comprehensive social media strategy in place, it’s likely to fall flat and become just another blog in cyberspace.
Think of each blog post as a conversation starter and the social media channels as a distribution mechanism. For example, if you write an article about business travel, you can post it if you’re on Facebook, tweet it, put it on Pinterest or Foursquare and share it on LinkedIn. Social media is the real driver behind your blog’s success.
5. Make the connection
But that’s all one-sided. Unless you give your audience the opportunity to engage with you, and your content, you are not being social. You also need to choose how you distribute your content and choose social platforms that are best suited to you.
A brand like Burger King will find Facebook a strong and engaging platform suited to their end customer, however someone like financial services giant Deloitte is better suited to the LinkedIn space. It gets trickier when your brand appeals to both business and end consumer markets, like one of our clients, a large hotel chain.
One of the ways we solve this is by creating articles on the chain’s blog, which appeal to both the business and leisure traveler and then choose the relevant social network to distribute this content.
6. Like any good conversation, you can’t just talk about yourself
It’s important to ensure that the focus isn’t only always on your brand. You then need to start asking questions, relevant to the topics you are talking about, as well as connecting with other people, sites or groups talking about the same or similar things.
Once you’ve done this you can start bringing in third-party information onto your social media profiles and you will quickly see the comments, likes and shares increase.
7. Bring them home
Besides stimulating conversations and interactions on social platforms, your blog’s real aim is to bring these people back to your website (your blog should be linked) so as to engage on a deeper level with your company.
Here you can then direct them to the relevant portion of your website, depending on what you want them to do. Do you want them to ask for a quote? Place an order? Sign up to the newsletter? Whatever it is — once they are in your environment you can then pull them deeper into your business.
It’s important to make sure that all these opportunities to engage and various call-to-action contact points are loud, proud and clearly marked on your website.
It’s all about closing the circle — creating a holistic and clearly thought out strategy that allows you to create, culture and monitor conversations with your audience.