Too lazy (or too busy) to run your social media campaign and too poor to hire someone to do it for you? Fortunately, you’re in luck! While you can’t completely scrap a social media campaign- every business and every department within a company should have one - there are some ways to create a social media marketing strategy that practically runs itself. It’s not as good as having a top-notch professional manage your campaign but it will come really darn close.
So let’s explore how this is done…
Figure out Who You Are (and Who You Are Not)
Have you taken the time to figure out who you are? (Who do you want to be when you grow up.) If you don’t know who you are, then how do you expect others to?
If you don’t know who you are personally, well that’s another story but as far as your business is concerned, you need to be able to define who and what you are. Your mission statement, your values and your core beliefs and work practices are all part of what makes your company what it is. if you don’t know who you are, it’s like being on a ship at sea with no navigation system. You’re just wondering aimlessly about, hoping someone spots you.
You want to make sure you stand out from the competitors by knowing who your target audience is and how you can benefit that audience. You have to be able to tell people who you are and how you can help them. Social media is your chance to connect directly with your target market and existing customers. But you need to know who you are in order to connect successfully.
At the same time, make it clear who you are not. Take a look at your competition and find out what you can offer that they don’t – and don’t be shy about letting everyone know why you should be the choice over them.
Don't Tick People Off - Learn Proper Etiquette
While it’s okay to be a little controversial as well as having a strong opinion, you don’t want to tick people off so much that they avoid your posts and you like the plague – or worse, get you banned from the site you’re marketing on. Make sure you follow the rules set out for each site – especially if it has a specific area where marketing messages are allowed and other areas they aren’t allowed. They might cut you a little slack in the beginning, but if you’re scolded more than once a twice, you’ll be “outta there” in no time.
Make sure you’re active on the site and involved in conversations without having an agenda every time. You want to be genuine and contribute though-provoking comments and not just spam. Get to know the site and its members, and after a few weeks you can begin to post subtle marketing messages while still providing value and engaging with members. It’s all about balance. Also remember the specific social media etiquette for the site you’re using. For example, Reddit users have a specific way about them that’s different from the community at Facebook. Spend some time exploring the site, its rules and its community before you jump into conversations.
Controversial posts- Controversial posts can be a great way to get more attention and more activity on your social media accounts. However, you want to handle them with care. Post questions asking for the community’s opinion but be wary of trying to tell them what to think or that one way is right and another is wrong or you might turn away an entire class of people.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine; be humorous without being lewd or profane, and most of all be respectful.
Get noticed for the right reasons
You want to be noticed. That’s the whole point of social media marketing, of course, but you don’t want to be noticed for the wrong things. You’ll have to make the ultimate decision as to what is aligned with your brand and what is not. Does what you’re posting help or hurt your image?
For example, a number of sites recently have posted fake stories about celebrity deaths. While it might draw an immediate increase in viewership, in the end, these sites are not seen in the best light. Honesty and integrity is still the best policy when it comes to any business. While emotional stories will get read, think about the long-term impact of how you would like to be seen.
Ask yourself these questions about your brand:
- How are you unique?
- How do you stand out?
- What do your readers want to talk about?
- How can you engage the community in a unique way?
- How can you showcase what makes you (or your brand) an expert?
- How can you get the community involved?
Now that you know some ways to build your social media strategy, how do you keep it flowing smoothly on its own? Well, this is where the power of tools comes in to save the day. Total automation of your social media is a death sentence but taking advantage of certain tools to spread your messages more easily and accurately allows you to spend more time actually running your business.
Tools for Managing Social Media
Now that you have an idea of the type of things to post, you probably want to know how your social marketing strategy can run itself. Here are just a few of the many tools available to help you with your social media management:
- Using Hootsuite is a fantastic method of posting to a number of social networks, scheduling posts and also listening to what’s going on by creating dedicated searches or streams of Twitter lists. This is probably the number one site for monitoring and posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a variety of business pages and more. It has a built-in custom analytics system with an ability to monitor select keywords as well as conveniently schedule posts.
- SocialOomph can help you monitor your Facebook and Twitter accounts and also manage and schedule blog posts.
- Crowdbooster is also a great site to manage social media activities on Facebook and Twitter by auto-posting on those sites as well as tracking new fans and followers and providing stats on how many times content has been shared or retweeted. It also provides posting time recommendations, which can be really helpful.
When it comes to scheduled posts, I like to create a social media editorial calendar with a theme and then pre-post these planned messages. They go out at specific times whether I am on the computer or not. Then I log in later and check for messages and replies. I make sure to comment back and reply to any and all messages that come through my social networks. As a general rule: you should be the most frequent commenter on your own accounts.
It may be slow going at first but the time and effort you put into your social media will continue to grow and in time, you’ll have accounts that practically run themselves. All you need to do is check in for some maintenance on a regular basis.