Social media conceptSocial media has been hyped up as a golden ticket to better business and bigger brands. Over the last few years it has been easy to get the impression a Facebook and Google+ account is the proven recipe for online success. But business owners have found reality proves much more difficult.
Turning social media into profit is a tricky and time consuming process – one that takes a lot of planning, execution and fine-tuning. Above all it takes enough patience and investment to find the right formula for your business. But to make this process faster for you we’re looking at the essential elements any social media marketing strategy needs.

#1: Research

There is no such thing as too much research and this is always stage one of every digital marketing strategy. It’s the most important part too because you can’t make a success of social unless you know exactly what your audience wants and where they hope to find it.
The two key areas of research to start with are audience and social network research. You need to understand your target audience better than you know yourself if you can hope to create the kind of content that makes them tick. And you also need to know your social networks so you can determine which ones will help you meet your targets.

#2: Clear goals

Which brings us on to setting your goals. Too many social marketing campaigns start without clear targets in mind and this is a sure-fire way to waste time and money. The more specific you can be with your goals, the easier it is to measure your success and improve performance. So don’t settle for vague goals like increasing brand awareness – target specific increases in traffic, conversions and social engagement.
This is just one example of what your social goals may be, but be specific and put down numeric targets with deadlines. This way you can assess your performance along the way to check you are on target. If you’re not then you know something needs to change and specific goals make it easier to diagnose issues.

#3: Network specific content

We’ve already mentioned the fact you need to know your networks to choose the most effective channels for your social efforts. With your initial research taken care of and your goals in place you should have everything you need to select your networks with confidence.
You only need to start with two or three networks and you can always add more as your marketing campaign matures. The most important thing at this stage is that you create a successful stream of content that specifically targets your audience and the networks they use. Content across LinkedIn differs greatly to Facebook and you need to tailor yours accordingly.

More essential elements to come

This is the first post in a mini-series of social media marketing and we’ll be back very shortly with more. If you need any advice with your social strategy in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch.