Social Media for Beginners in 7 Steps
1. Develop Personas
What is a persona? A persona is a fictional character that represents your brand’s real customers (current and potential). Generally your brand will have more than one persona - Cheeky Monkey has two. These personas essentially group your different customer segments into specific very specific characters - their needs, wants, hobbies, desires, goals, challenges, demographic information, preferences, and more. You can even name them to make it more fun and real.
How to develop personas - Developing personas is not difficult, but it does take time to conduct the research. Interviewing current customers is a great place to start - for a list of questions to ask, Buffer has a great beginners guide to personas that goes into great detail. Other research tools include Google Analytics, your sales team/customer service team, and social media surveys and insights.
How do personas relate to social media? The developed personas should be the basis of your social media marketing strategy. After developing your personas you will know what platforms your audience spends their time on and what sorts of information they are looking for. Your goal should be to give your target markets exactly what they want, where they want it, when they want it. Social media marketing is a fantastic way to do this, resulting in brand awareness, trust, engagement, and sales.
*My opinion on persona’s - Persona’s are underrated and underutilized by organizations. There is SO much valuable information that can be gained by just asking your customers about themselves. My most favorite companies are customer-centric. Medium is my favorite example, they are always asking for feedback, consumer opinions, and continuously grow to make their community more happy.
2. Go Where Your Personas Are
What platforms should you be on? You should be on the social media platforms that your audience spends the majority of their time on - here are some stats on social media that may come in handy when determining which platforms you decide to use. You will have discovered this information from the persona research you conducted. Don’t waste your time and resources on platforms that your target audience has no interest in. Seriously, if you try to do it all there will be little ROI on your efforts, and it will take up an unnecessary amount of time.
Include all necessary brand information - Don’t take shortcuts when filling out company information on your selected social media platforms. Kissmetrics wrote a post on the 10 elements of a successful social media profile. The elements include - company name, a username, profile pic, company link, bio, interests, background, and privacy settings. Ensuring all of your information is included on your profile will encourage engagement from your audience. For a more detailed look into each element I recommend reading the post I linked to above.
Inject your platforms with your brand’s personality - People engage with people. Your audience wants to feel something. Don’t be boring, be authentically entertaining. Develop a personality through your social media accounts that represents the type of organization you are. Because social media marketing is so competitive, it is necessary that you are able to stand out amongst the crowd. Developing a personality will cause your audience to connect with your brand emotionally - a huge step towards a sale.
*My Opinion on Social Media Platforms - Though you should stick to a few platforms, keep on top of trends. Look for new opportunities to reach your market in a place that they may not even know of yet. It’s important to not get too comfortable.
3. Create Content
Create Content With Purpose - One of the biggest challenges when it comes to creating original content for your brand is coming up with what to write about. A great place to start is to refer back to what types of challenges your personas face. Generate content that makes your customer’s lives easier by overcoming their challenges. Research for them, write for them, and invest time into them. Give, give, give, keep giving until you get.
Create a Variety of Content - Often when I think of content marketing I default to blogging. Blogging is indeed one sort of content, but it is only scratching the surface. In order to appeal to the masses, you should be producing multiple types of content. Quicksprout wrote a great post on 15 types of content that your brand can utilize to drive traffic. A quick summary of these 15 content types are as follows - infographics, memes, videos, guides, book reviews, opinion posts, product reviews, how-tos, lists, link pages, Ebooks, case studies, podcasts, interviews, and original data. There are an abundance of content types, so play with them, determine what resonates with your customers, and continuously mix it up.
Create Evergreen Content - The best types of content can be recycled and repurposed. Evergreen content is content that doesn’t go out of style, can be used long down the road, and can be pushed multiple times for a solid ROI. For tips on producing evergreen content, check out this article from Uberflip.
*My Opinion on “Content” - “Content marketing” has become this widely used term for something that has always existed in marketing. Everything about marketing is “content” - a radio ad, a billboard, a blog post, a press release, everything… I am guilty of using the phrase because it seems to resonate with people, but I think as marketers we should not forget that this new phase isn’t new, it is the basis of what marketing always has been. Samuel Scott wrote this awesomely controversial post that touches on this point - Everything the Tech World Says About Marketing Is Wrong. Do yourself a favor and read it.
4. Share, Share, Share, Repeat
Share Content From External Sources - This one is big… Don’t push internal content only. Your audience will be able to see right through your blatant self promotion. If you come across an outstanding, helpful, relevant post that your audience would appreciate, then share it! Do this often. Balance out your internal content with content produced by other organizations. If anything will build trust between you and your audience, it’s showing them that you are looking out for them and in constant search of ways to overcome the challenges they face.
Recycle Your Content - Social media is a raging river of status updates, posts, picture, etc. There is no way every one of your posts will be seen by every one of your followers. So, recycle them! You can share a single piece of content multiple times on the same platform. You don’t want to overdo it, so use your own judgement, but it is common for a single blog post to be pushed multiple times per week through Twitter, or multiple times per month through Facebook. This circles back to evergreen content. If there is a great article from a year ago hiding in the dark history of your blog, bring it back to life by sharing it! Buffer wrote a great post on the case for reposting content, give ‘er a read for some further convincing.
Repurpose Your Content, Then Share It - A single piece of content can multiply. Say you write a statistically rich post - the post itself is great, but what if you turned it into an infographic, created a meme from one of the stats, and then hosted a podcast on the significance of the stats? That one post gave life to three others, saving you the energy of creating a whole new idea to build upon. If you are ever stuck trying to generate a whole new concept, repurposing an old piece of content is a great place to gain some traction. Nadya Khoja from Venngage gives some fantastic examples of ways to repurpose your content to amplify its effects - definitely worth a glance if you are ever feeling stuck.
*My opinion on sharing content - The value of sharing content from external sources is huge. It indicates that you are in-the-loop, on top of trends, and appreciative of your rivals. It will pay off because those same competitors will start sharing your content, strengthening your relationship with them and amplifying your audience.
5. Engage #NeverForget
Always Respond and Engage Back - There is nothing worse than tweeting your favorite influencer and never getting a response back. It makes you feel silly and ultimately diminishes the trust that was there before. As a brand you must stay grateful for your audience and the time they take to interact with you via social media. This means following people back, giving a quick thanks for liking your posts, sharing some of their posts, and engaging in conversation with them. Not only does it make that person feel closer to your brand, but it is awesome for PR and word-of-mouth marketing. The time invested will pay off in the end.
Engage With Influencers - Influencers are people in your industry who others pay attention to, trust, and seek advice from. They have a huge amount of power in regards to, you guessed it, influencing their followers. It can be tough, but engaging with influencers can be hugely beneficial to your brand. If you are able to connect with them on a personal level, or provide some sort of value to them you have a good chance of getting a ReTweet, a share, or even a conversation with said influencer. They have the ability to take you from unknown to widely known. Again, this is not an easy feat, but definitely one worth investing some time into. Tools like BuzzSumo can help you target influencers in your industry to engage with. My biggest piece of advice in regards to this tactic is to stay genuine and authentic. Engage with people you truly look up to.
*My opinion on engagement - This is the most important piece of the puzzle. Building connections with your followers and influencers is huge. I believe that digital marketing has lost sight of the importance of human-to-human connection. Stop paying so much attention to how many followers you get each day and start spending time building authentic relationships.
6. Measure and Test
Choose What To Measure - Choosing what to measure your social media success by is crazy important. It is really up to you and your organizational objective, but common metrics include - followers, shares, likes, and impressions. While these basic metrics are good to start with, I like to dive a little deeper. For Cheeky Monkey, I like to track what sorts of content are receiving the highest engagement (likes, shares, etc), how many people actually click on links (use Bitly or something for easy tracking), which types of content social media platforms push to a high volume of people, and conversations started. Your goals can get as granular or broad as you want, but without measuring something you will never know if you are improving. Here is an awesome guide diving into measuring your social media ROI - I HIGHLY recommend reading it, or finding a similar article to give you guidance.
Test Everything- Okay, so you have a post that goes viral, what do you do next? Well, first figure out what about that post your audience enjoyed and then test your findings by creating content similar to it. Assumptions are nothing without proof. You must test your hypothesis if you want to be certain you are on the right path. Test everything. Test out different types of content - video, infographics, webinars, and ask your audience which kind they prefered. Test which ways to best engage with influencers. Test what time of the day your posts receive the most love. There are no shortages of things to test out when it comes to social media. Make it a little game and have fun with it. Ultimately you’ll figure out what works best for your audience and what doesn’t work at all.
*My opinion on measuring and testing - While measuring and testing your efforts is incredibly important, don’t get too caught up in the numbers. I recommend making micro-goals that influence your overall objective. Focusing only on the end objective (social media leading to an actual sale) will be extremely frustrating and you will struggle to stay motivated. Your little goals, if set correctly, will bring you success.
7. Stay Consistent
Find a Routine and Stick With It - Don’t have time to post 8 times on Twitter, 4 times on FaceBook, and 2 times on LinkedIn every day? That’s okay, there are solutions. You could either - NOT be that involved, or automate some of the postings. In my opinion the most important thing is to remain consistent. Your followers will grow to expect certain behavior. That consistent behavior will create trust between you and them. Don’t break that trust. If you want to be a reliable source for information, then create reasonable expectations for yourself that will enable you to do so. There are days when I have to pump out blog posts and can’t interrupt my workflow to post up on Twitter, so at the beginning of the day I put some posts in a Sprout Social que and let the tool do the work for me. No harm, no foul - simply consistency for the Cheeky Monkey followers.
*My opinion on staying consistent - The influencers I look to for material are always pumping out new content. I know that each week they will have created something new and of value to me. I rely on them and rarely go in search of new sources. People like Neil Patel, Amy Porterfield, and Rand Fishkin are crazy consistent and incredibly successful - be like them (WAY easier said than done).
I hope these tips help you get your social media strategy up and running. If you have any tips/tricks that I have forgotten let me know - there is always room for improvement. :)