Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Create A Social Media Strategy That Makes Sense For Your Business.

Building Strategies That Make Sense.
I am pretty much sure the first time you started to seriously think about developing a social media presence, you experienced, at least, two different feelings: on one hand a sense of urgency, realizing "everybody else is doing it" and it's only now that you're seriously considering it; and on the other hand, some anxiety because you don't really understand why or how you should do it.

You created your business with a clearly defined goal in mind: To make money. You can spice it up as you wish or view it from different points of view, but really your bottom line is to make money. 

And it is normal. Most businesses are created with the same goal in mind.

Therefore, all your actions should be geared towards achieving such goal: Making money, make your business profitable, either directly or indirectly.

For your business, all roads must lead to Rome.

And by that I mean that everything you do should be aimed at achieving your business goals. Social networks are not an exception and must be part of a comprehensive strategy, following the same rule, helping your business achieve its goals.

That's why all activities, from scheduling tweets, updating Facebook status twice a day, producing a demo on video for a new product, everything should be oriented to achieving your business objectives, because otherwise, it may lead to an unpredictable loss of time and money.

Some time ago we said in social networks, without goals, there can't be a plan. Therefore, the first thing you have to do is to establish these goals. If we start by understanding that your real desire is to make your business profitable and make money, then the question to ask is the following:

How can social networks help my business make more money?

With that understood and looking at all things from this point of view, it all becomes simpler. There are two ways your business can make more money. One is selling more, of course, and the other one is cutting down on expenses, a little less obvious but very effective as well. Social networks allow you to achieve a mixture of both.
  • I want to save money, avoid spending money on phone calls and improve customers' experience using social media as a channel for customer service.
  • I want to sell more using social media to increase traffic to my company's website.
  • I want to increase sales by educating customers about my products, offering interesting advice and information relevant to their needs through social networks.
  • I want to save money on prospecting new business by searching for quality leads for my business.
  • I want to sell more by sharing information about product promotions and special offers.

How do you know if you are achieving your goals or not?

Once you have defined what you want to achieve clearly enough, it's then time to establish a way to measure your progress. This is called, in formal language, defining "Key Performance Indicators" to help you know whether the objectives are being achieved or not.

For example: You want to use social media to generate quality leads for your business and you refer to a "quality contact" as an environmental engineering company. Your key performance indicator, in this case, would be to measure how many new contacts you've done for your business in social networks that could be included within the "environmental engineering agencies".

Or, for example, if you want to educate your customers and users about a specific topic publishing an e-book, you could measure your efforts' performance by analyzing how many times the book has been downloaded, shared and commented.

And so on. But remember: The rule is "to establish the performance indicator that lets you know if you are achieving your goal or not." You don't want to measure something that isn't relevant to your business goals.

What actions must you implement to achieve your goal?

Suppose then you use social networks to make contacts with environmental engineering firms, your "quality leads". Your second step should be to determine how you are going to do it, the resources and tools you will use, and how and who is going to have it done.

In this case you could, for example, do the following:
  • Use LinkedIn as a platform.
  • Build new contacts with environmental engineers.
  • Follow companies which are engaged in your professional area or closely related.
  • Identify moderators of forums and groups in which environmental issues are discussed.
  • Develop connections with these people.
  • Include a contact form on your website so that visitors can register to receive relevant content about topics of their interest. The contact form must include a field in which visitors state their professional area.
  • Develop a database and include all pertinent information about people you get in contact with since you started developing these specific actions.

As you can see, the options are countless and varied, but once you've segmented them according to goals you want to achieve and how you will measure them, it all starts to make more sense and be much clearer.

You always have to know if things are going well or not so well.

To make sure everything is going on the right direction all you can do is get into the habit of monitoring, monitoring and monitoring again. There is no other formula.

After implementing the steps indicated above: setting goals, performance indicators and actions to be implemented, the only thing left to do is to keep track of things to ensure it's all going in the expected direction.

If everything is right, congratulations then. If things don't look so good, it's time to go back to the beginning and review where the error can be, correct it and get it all started again.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, developing a social media strategy for your business should not be cause for urgency or anxiety. Quite the contrary.

Anxiety disappears when you have a clear reason to do what you are doing. Urgency .. well, it's very simple, the only thing you get by rushing it, is getting exhausted. Nothing happens if you are arriving late at the party.

As long as you achieve your goals, no matter if you make it a few minutes later, don't you think?

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