Are you all over your socials?

Aligning social media with your business strategy

Anna Byrne

Social media has been a global game changer for business and has presented an incredible opportunity to connect with customers. Whilst many of us are comfortable on social media in our private lives, implementing a social media strategy in our businesses can be overwhelming. There are so many new apps and social networks launching every day, so where do we start?

I’d suggest starting with an important decision… does this opportunity align with our business strategy? Why do we want to be on social media? Soul searching and research needs to be conducted early on. What is our purpose and key messaging that we wish to convey via social media? Are we trying to raise brand awareness, advertise our services, or improve our customer experience? What is the audience we are trying to connect with? Are there specific things we wish to communicate to this audience? The target market is a familiar business concept which is vital in the social media sphere because it’s important to target social media platforms (Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc) where it’s likely you’ll actually reach your customers. Last, but not least, you need to consider what your story is and how you will share it with your audience…

The other thing that needs to be considered before embarking into the world of social media is what level of risk you are willing to accept, and whether you have mitigation strategies. Your branding and reputation are at much more risk on social media than is the case with traditional media. Are you prepared for negative messaging, brand attacks, and slander? Funnily enough, with the right strategy this type of abuse can be turned into a positive message, but you need to ensure you are prepared, with a solid strategy and action plan for tackling these things if and when they occur.

Once you’re ready to go, the hard work begins. Because when it comes to social media, content is king. Find great content and build a content calendar. Set up social media tools such as Google alerts, hashtags and influencers to do the work for you. The content being shared needs to be engaging or it can have the opposite effect… 3,2,1, swipe! We all know the tweep that retweets everything and the serial facebook poster who posts more than 3 times a day – STOP! Having said that, if you have established an online presence, it needs to be regularly updated with content. Once your followers have liked, shared, or commented you need to maintain this engagement to be successful in managing your community. You also need people prepared to log on after hours to respond to comments and queries.

Don’t miss an opportunity to connect with your network wherever you may be and ensure it’s accessible across systems and mediums (think PC, smartphone, Apple, Android, auditory, visual etc.) 2016 is the year of the video – no one wants to read (or write!) a powerpoint slide full of words and dot points, think creatively and post images and videos as often as you can. Our brains process images much faster than text. Try out PowToon for some animations or Piktochart for some infographics.

Get savvy! Send different messages with similar content but slightly re-worded, with different images, emotive themes or colours, and monitor the engagement you receive. When are your followers active and what attracts their attention? Test, adapt, and test again. Be yourself, and #goforbroke! Jump in, we all learn from our mistakes and showing your human side can build trust amongst your followers.

Always remember to be safe. Protect yourself and your family by checking geolocation and privacy settings on all social media tools. Facebook and Instagram record the location of where your photo was taken and also where you live. You can either remove these posts (edit) or turn off location access in your settings. If you are using your smartphone for managing your work social media, always check the social media account you are logged in as and who is using it – no, you don’t want the latest ‘My Little Pony’ video posted to your social media community!

Also investigate social media management tools and dashboards (HootSuite is a great one) to schedule and manage your interactions on social media. These can also assist you in conducting analytics and reporting to ensure your objectives on social media are being met.

And remember, similar to the bricks and mortar world, people appreciate old fashioned courtesy, good service and a polite thank you. So don’t forget to regularly #Thanksforthefollow, suggest to follow others via #ff (Friday follow), or share a page. This will help you build strong links around your social media network, and will ultimately help you deliver on your social media strategy.

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