I may call myself a social media strategist, but I’m actually an investigator, an explorer, and a mad scientist. Most clients come to me for help with their social media, but to even get to the point where we can successfully implement a social media strategy, there is so much we have to learn about the company, its community and content.
It’s not unusual for a company to have a subjective perspective about its audience or about the types of content used to engage them. Small business owners may claim that “Twitter isn’t working” for them or that they “can’t get Facebook” to drive sales or traffic. While it can be frustrating, having trouble connecting social media to your business outcomes rarely is the fault of social media; rather it’s the strategy (or lack of one, as it may be) that isn’t working.
Social Media Needs
Most companies end up on social media not because there is a need for them to be there, but because they feel as if they need to be there. There is a difference. Though it’s rare for a company not to benefit from a social media presence, just being on social media doesn’t entitle any business to anything.
In a perfect world, companies would strategically plan and execute their presence on social media. This means they’d be able to appropriately define who they are, what they do and why it’s important. Then they’d be able to identify their target audience, while also understanding their behaviors and motivations. Once those elements are outlined, they must be aligned with the brand messaging.
While knowing who you are, who you targeted audience is and what you want to say are important, they’re all subjective. Now we need to uncover what the truth really is. Does reality match intent?
It’s not uncommon to learn, for instance, that the audience following a brand or company on a particular social media network isn’t who they want or planned to target. This doesn’t mean that they’re not relevant to the brand experience, but it could mean that a company is ignoring them because they’re busy creating messaging that is designed for a different type of consumer.
Bridging the Gap
Once we can align the subjective against the objective, we can truly understand what gaps exist. Gaps can expose a need for content or it can suggest that a social network isn’t the right fit or it can reveal new opportunities for engagement. In order for a brand’s social media presence to be successful, it’s essential to take a closer look, kick the tires, peek under the surface. To determine what types of content and interaction are the most engaging depends on the outcomes a brand hopes to achieve.
While having a strategy that accounts for messaging, audience and engagement is a must, putting that strategy into place can seem overwhelming. Many small businesses may think that they don’t have the adequate man-power to effectively manage, monitor and maintain a social media presence, but with the right tools, workflows can be simplified and streamlined making it all easier to oversee.
Identifying the right tools may not always been so obvious, and it make take some experimentation and tweaking to get it just right. One’s success on social media is partially due to taking the time to experiment and evolve as your community grows and goals mature. And while experimenting is valuable, it’s often futile if you don’t know what you’re trying to improve or simplify, which is why starting from the beginning is necessary.
Social media isn’t inherently complicated, but if you don’t fully understand why you’re there in the first place and what you hope to achieve by being there, it’s not going to get easier.
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