So you’re thinking about jumping into social media.
You’ve read a whole slew of blog posts, news stories as well as examples of how social media has helped businesses like yours cut costs and market more effectively. So now it’s your turn.
But have you really thought it through? Have you laid out the groundwork, reasons, measurement and more before you make the leap? Or are you just jumping in, because everyone’s telling you that social media isn’t for toe-dippers?
Whatever your train of thought, here are some things you might want to run through first before jumping in.
Why Are You Doing This?
Okay, this might seem like an obvious question with an even more obvious answer, but have you really asked why you’re about to start using social media?
Is there a bona-fide reason for your business to be on social media? Or is it because you’ve been told you need to be? And if you are on it, does it need to be active or passive? Do you need to take part or simply use social media as a research and listening resource?
Yes, for most business, at least some minimal social media use is better than none – but it may be that you’re about to jump in for the wrong reasons and on the wrong platforms. So you need to know why you’re doing it. How do you define your involvement?
That’s where a social media audit comes in.
Have You Carried Out a Social Media Audit?
One of the most important parts of any initial approach to using social media is a social media audit. This is something we carry out for every one of our clients, new and old, before starting a new campaign with them.
From first steps in social media to garnering intelligence for a new campaign, you need to carry out a social media audit. I won’t fool you into thinking this is a piece of cake, either – a proper social media audit can range from weeks to months to carry out, depending on how in-depth the next steps are going to be.
Some of the bare minimums of an audit include:
- Using the right software. There’s a host of tools you can use to carry our your audit, from free platforms like Twitter Search, Social Mention and Monitter, to premium ones like Radian6, Sysomos and Beevolve, amongst others. Pick the ones that suit your needs and budget.
- Targeting the right searches. You’re a restaurant owner and you want new clientele. So you use keywords like “restaurants” and “good food”. But what about “local catering”, “locally-produced food”, “sports nights”, “corporate events”, etc? Think of the activities outside your niche search but that are perfect for your services.
- Be there at the right time. To really get the right information, you need to get the right people. So make sure you’re online at the right time to get your intelligence. Many moms, for example, seem to prefer the hours between 5.00am and noon to be online. If they’re your audience, guess what time you should be running your tracking software?
These are three key pointers for your audit. There are many more; but the main thing is you carry out the audit and be sure of the information you’re after, and how to get it properly.
What Are Your Goals?
So many businesses jump into social media with a clear goal – to succeed in social media. Great – but what is that success? There are many ways to define success in social media, just as there are many ways to measure and react. So defining what your goals are is key.
While not limiting yourself, some success barometers could be:
- More visitors to your online store.
- More foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.
- New loyalty program sign-ups.
- Newsletter subscribers.
- Active social network sharing of your services.
- Brand awareness on certain niche communities.
- Hard sales through social media exclusive offers.
- Coupons downloaded and used from a vanity URL.
Again, these are just some pointers on how you could set up success barometers for your social media activities. You could also look at lowering customer service issues; saving costs on hiring people; saving money on print ads to re-invest in your business.
Decide what would be a successful entry for your needs, and then define what platforms (based on your audit) you need to be on to reach the audience that can make that success happen.
What’s Your Measurement?
When someone tells you that you can’t measure the ROI of social media, look them squarely in the eye and then laugh as you show them out the door. This is one of the biggest crocks that a lot of social media “consultants” will try and tell you. It’s usually to cover for their own lack of business acumen – don’t be suckered by it.
There are many ways to measure social media, and every single campaign, involvement or activity is trackable and measurable. All you need to decide is what you’re going to measure, and how that’s going to align with the time and financial investment on your end.
Questions to ask on your measurement should include:
- What measurement tools will you use?
- What’s your cut-off time for evaluation of your activity?
- What numbers are you measuring – financial, social shares and awareness, or both?
- What percentage of growth do you want month-on-month?
- Do news stories count as success?
- How much can you take a hit on (freebies, coupons, etc) to result in longer-term sales?
- What are the most active/successful times of day?
Anyone can start a campaign – not everyone actually plans it out to measure, so you can react on the fly. Make sure you know what you’re measuring and what tools you’re going to need to do this with.
Your Starter for Ten
These are just three key questions everyone should be asking before thinking social media is going to be the golden goose for your business. There are many more questions that you should be asking too:
- What other promotional integration are you using (marketing, PR, advertising, direct mail, etc)?
- Will you be running a mobile campaign alongside your other activities?
- How many man hours will you need, and how many can you realistically allocate?
- Who will be running this for you – internal or external?
- What’s your strategy for negativity and who will deal with it for you?
- What’s your social media policy on what can be said and by who?
Again, the amount of questions that need to be asked will vary, depending on your business and your needs/involvement. But every single business needs to acknowledge that jumping into social media involves a little bit more than a Twitter account and someone who knows a bit about computers.
Is your business asking the right questions?
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