Technology & InternetSix things you should think about before starting social media marketing

I see a lot of chatter across forums and from clients about getting involved in social media marketing. Speaking to them I realise that without fail, every single one is wading in without actually thinking about why or what they were going to use them for. So I’ve put together 6 key questions business owners and marketers should answer before they should start opening accounts and posting.

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This orignally appeared on http://www.electric-alley.com/blog

With the enormous Facebook IPO and the murmurings of Twitter to follow social media here to stay, which is probably why I see a lot of chatter across forums and from clients about setting up Facebook pages, starting to tweet and getting involved in social media marketing. Speaking to them I realise that without fail, every single one is wading in without actually thinking about why or what they were going to use them for. So I’ve put together 6 key questions business owners and marketers should answer before they should start opening accounts and posting. I am not going to give you the answers but by answering them you should be able to quickly formulate plan which will get you through your first few months of your campaign.

1. Where are your customers?

Instead of thinking you should have a Facebook page, think about whether that is right for your business. I worked with a technology company who opened a Facebook page early on in their development – who looks for business software on Facebook? No one.

After two years of business they never had more than 30 fans on their Facebook page mostly friends and family whereas they had over 2000 twitter followers and over 700 Linkedin followers. This is because we sat down and thought about our customers and their behaviour – where do they get their information? What influences them to make a decision?  Where are they most likely going to be receptive to your brand?

Take for example a business leader who is also highly into fashion – she’s unlikely to be looking for fashion advice on Linkedin but is likely to be influenced by her peers liking and interacting with a technology brand on there. Whereas when she’s at home, she’s extremely unlikely to be browsing Facebook for technology but would be influenced by her friends liking and commenting on content from a fashion brand. Know your audience!

2. What are you going to post?

This is the first question I usually ask people when they say they’re thinking about setting up a page. I usually get back a vague answer along the lines of ‘news, case studies…..’

There is nothing worse than a neglected Facebook page, with dwindling fans and the odd post here and there. Without planning what you’re going to post, your page can quickly become a chore; I’ve often heard a business owners say to me ‘I wish we’d never opened it’

Before beginning posting its important to think about what types of content you’re going to use, is it just news or are you going to inject some personality? Are you going to develop some multimedia? Post images? Do you have content you’re already producing which you can repurpose? If so it would be a good idea to put together a matrix which shows what type of content goes where – for example you produce a press release, that goes on your news page, which then gets shortened into a blog post, finally you do a tweet for the post. This makes producing and promoting content easy, gets your channels on brand and working together.

3. When are you going to post?

After deciding what you’re going to post the next step is to work out when and how often. Ask yourself where are your audience located? When are they online? If you have an international audience you may need to post content at different times to hit all markets. How often do you need to post? Are you going to post on different channels more frequently? Also think about your time, do you have enough time to produce all the content you’ve planned and do you have the time to manage the channels?

4. What is the competition doing?

It’s always a good idea to have a look at the competition, you can learn a lot about using social media in your market. Have a look at what works and what doesn’t, not only will this help you decide on best practices but you may also find a weakness you can exploit. For example while working with the technology company I discovered that their rivals were pretty established on most channels but they didn’t have a look in on Quora. Which also happened to be where our key influencers were spending a lot of their time. By building up our presence there it meant we were able to get in front of key industry figures quickly, with minimal effort and zero costs.

5. How are you going to manage your channels?

This is vital step, getting this right makes sure your campaign runs without a hitch. Whose responsibility is it to update your channels? What are you going to do when you run out of things to post? It’s a good idea to produce a schedule of topics you’re going to write about over the next three months and also write two weeks worth of posts. If you have something more timely you can just add it into the schedule but this way you will always have something you can quickly post.

6. How are you going to turn them into customers?

I’ve saved this question for last but really it should be the first question. There are lots of tips out there and it really depends on your marketing and audience, there’s no easy answer so I will save my suggestions for another post. Just remember that followers don’t automatically mean customers and if you’re a small business or in the start-up stage you don’t have the time and resource to spend on non-performing channels. Plan this early and properly and you will save yourself time and effort down the line

 

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