The 2015 Industry Report released by Social Media Examiner tells us that just two years ago, businesses were asking whether or not they should be using social media. Today, 96% of businesses are using social media to market their business but a staggering 45% of those businesses feel that their efforts are in vein.

So, 96% of businesses have accepted and embraced the need to hop on board the Digital Train, great! But what happens next? Where is your destination? How long will it take to get there?

Setting up a Facebook page isn’t the answer to increasing awareness of your brand or growing your audience, it’s a good place to start certainly but there are several steps to take to ensure effective social media marketing.

1. Let’s Start At The Very Beginning - Social Channels Audit.

Before thinking about where you are going, think about where you are now. What is it that you want to achieve from social media? Is it growing your audience, is it increasing your brand awareness, is it driving more traffic to your website? Be clear about your social media goals and then plan accordingly.

A social media mission statement is an effective way of clearly identifying what you aim to achieve through social media. This statement will reflect the brands identity and will be useful in ensuring published content is consistent with the overall brand.

An audit of your current social channels (if you have any) will enable you to find out which profiles are bringing you the most value. Insights and analytics will soon become your best friend in social media marketing and will offer you valuable information around your target audience (who is engaging with your content, their age, gender and occupation, when they are engaging with you and how often etc) as well as whether your social channels are optimised and how they compare to competitor profiles.

Once you have this information, you can then position yourself and create an effective social media plan to roll out and deliver measurable results.

2. Share More of What Your Audience Loves.

In deciding what to post and when to post it, you will require those best friends I was speaking about earlier.  Insights and Analytics will tell you what is resonating with your audience. What are they talking about, what are they sharing, commenting on and talking about. You should be consulting your analytics regularly to see which type of content is getting the most likes, comments and shares so that your content is relevant and up to date. 

Paying attention to what your audience are talking about and discussing on social media can often be bearers and pain points. In this case, you can share content or curate your own content around addressing these issues and offering solutions. This way, you can reach out to your audience and offer them valuable content that they actually need, they will appreciate this and engage with you.

Remember to align your content with your mission statement – does it reflect it? There is no point in posting great content if it doesn’t reflect your brand or is inconsistent with your website or other social profiles. The audience will get confused and it will be difficult for them to engage.

Twitter Insights

3. Social Media Management – Schedule Posts and Be Time Efficient.

A content calendar is your saving grace. Spending hours and hours in insights and analytics as well as reading daily blogs and articles will soon equate to a huge amount of content. You can’t post all of it at once though. By using a content calendar to plan what you are going to post and when, you can use your time efficiently and ensure consistent regular posting, even if you are out of the office.

Tools like Hootsuite and Facebook Scheduler are there to help you schedule and plan posts. With user friendly dashboards, you can clearly see your social activity in real time feeds and even schedule posts for multiple social channels at the same time.

Planning in advance also lets you get creative. Theme your posts according to different social events, listen out online for what is coming up, what people are posting about and join in. 

Hootsuite - Social Media Management

4. Track, Analyse and Optimise.

A social media strategy is never set in stone, and that’s the real beauty of it. Paying attention to key success metrics like reach, conversions, time on site, mentions, shares etc will enable you to understand what is working and what isn’t working. Tracking the results and analysing the data and making tweaks to optimise will improve your engagement based on real data. Trial and error is what it’s all about, it’s ok!

Smart Insights - Content Marketing KPI's

Content Marketing KPI's Diagram: Smart Insights

5. Let The Data Guide You – Re-evaluate Each Step After You Have Analysed The Data.

After having analysed your data, say for example on a weekly basis, go back over each step we have already talked about and make sure your covering all bases. If your content isn’t engaging with your target audience, ask yourself why? Go back to your mission statement, measure it against it as well as against the type of content your target market are engaging with and so on. This way you can rule out what might be the issue and be efficient in rectifying it.

6. Encourage and Inspire

Motivating your audience can add a ton of value. It’s important to stay social and share and endorse other people’s content but don’t forget there are insights that only you can share with your audience. What value can you add?

It’s important to remember that you are posting to real people, not just fans and followers so make sure your giving them content that they will want to read and come back to read again. Post content that reflects your brand personality, a window into your company that you want your audience to be a part of.

Once you start posting relevant content to your audience, good things will start to happen. Focus on creating engaging content that people will what to read and then share it with others to read too.

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