Some of social media’s best qualities are also the very elements that contribute to its complexity: It is immediate, constantly updated, flexible and inclusive. Connecting with audiences in real-time is great — so long as you have the ability to monitor and respond in real time. The opportunity to share your brand across multiple channels can be advantageous, but connecting with so many potential consumers also provides plenty of risk. To mitigate that risk and increase the value of your time spent on social media, it’s crucial that you clear the clutter and project a clear, timely and consistent brand message across your chosen platforms.
Social media marketing is complex and time-consuming. It can create a big old mess for any business. And, as we all know, mess leads to clutter, clutter leads to loss of control, and loss of control leads to a toxic brand image. While there’s not a magic solution to doing all of the social media all of the time with all of the best content, there are ways to streamline your efforts into a manageable and realistic strategy that helps achieve your goals.
1. Create and maintain an inventory of all your consumer-facing profiles.
Make a list of all branded — and off-brand — social media accounts that exist for your business.
Mark anything you haven’t actively used in more than 90 days, and ask yourself why that is. Does the platform not fit your business goals? Was your audience lacking? Are you unfamiliar with the platform, or do you just not have time to manage it?
Based on your answers, decide whether to delete the account, get training on how to use it or find more resources for updating it.
While it’s completely fine to sign up for and try out new platforms to see how they could fit into your strategy, rogue or ghost profiles can be a liability to a business. If your usage falls off, it’s better to delete the account than let it idle, which can leave customers feeling confused or ignored or, worse, leave your business vulnerable to phishing attacks.
2. Audit your strategy.
While you may be inclined to be on all platforms, especially as shiny new ones hit the market, it is essential to know your goals and your limits. Ask:
- What social media channels do our target audiences use?
- How are you or your team using these channels?
- What are your objectives for each channel?
- What are your competitors doing?
- How are you measuring success on your channels?
- How are you training your team to be successful?
3. Identify your business objectives for each platform.
Ultimately, it’s better to do a couple things really well than everything poorly. A good foundational strategy I use for my own business is to choose one objective for each social media account. This helps define content, who to follow, tone, voice and frequency.
For example, some businesses might use Twitter for customer service, Facebook for community building and LinkedIn for recruitment. At 3fold, we’ve honed our platform strategy to focus on four profiles dedicated to a single business objective each: Facebook for capturing company culture, Twitter for demonstrating thought leadership, LinkedIn for networking and Instagram for tapping our creativity. It all depends on your business’s goals and your customers’ needs.
4. Choose your platforms and clean them up.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, Vine … you get the point. While there is no shortage of social media channels, there is usually a significant shortage in the time you have to monitor and maintain them. You don’t have to be everywhere, but you do have to be somewhere. If you’re overwhelmed, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a good foundation upon which to build.
To (re)take control:
- Identify the top three business objectives that social media can help you address.
- Choose the channels that lend themselves to those goals.
- Select the people within your organization who will be responsible for updating each channel.
- Review your fans and followers. Create a list of those you want to connect with through shares and retweets, and unfollow anyone clogging up your channels with content you do not find useful.
- Update your avatars and header images with high-quality images that represent your business and goals. Doing this monthly or quarterly can help define your short-term objectives with audiences.
5. Establish a (manageable) routine.
While there are no shortcuts for a successful marketing effort, there are ways to keep it manageable.
For updating, at a minimum start with:
- Facebook: one post per day, and respond to comments and questions within 24 hours.
- Twitter: three to five tweets per day, and respond to replies and direct messages within 24 hours.
- LinkedIn: three to five posts per week.
For generating content:
- Create lists on Twitter of followers you want to connect with or push, and use this for retweeting.
- Create a monthly editorial calendar of major holidays and local events and happenings. Use this to generate objective-focused content for each platform.
- Use a social media management tool like Hootsuite to monitor all your channels and lists in one place, as well as pre-schedule posts to ensure consistent updating.
- Identify a monthly budget for boosting or promoting essential posts or tweets that need to reach wider audiences.
Once you’ve cleaned up your social media presence and established a streamlined plan for updates, you’ll find yourself in a much better position to achieve your goals, find new ideas, capture new opportunities and proactively solve potential problems. This can ultimately lead to better engagement with your customers and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
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