Founder & CEO, RyTech, LLC Previously published in National Shoe Retailers Association MagazineSocial media has become a digital marketing must for businesses across the globe, but if you didn’t grow up in the “social media age” or aren’t familiar with all of the capabilities, social media can be daunting to determine how to apply it to your business and even more so how to measure return on investment. There is a common misconception that to be on social media means you have to have a presence across all social media platforms. That is not the case. It all depends on who your ideal audience is and what your goals are. So where do you start?
IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
Taking a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of identifying your audience is vital to the success of your social media efforts. Who is your ideal consumer? Where are they located? How old are they? Are they shopping online? What do they like to do? Where are they spending their time on social media? These are all important aspects to explore and consider when developing and executing your strategy. You may be producing great, creative content but if it isn’t relative to your audience, how will it convert?
DEVELOP YOUR GOALS
Before you continue posting because you feel as though you have to be on social media, identify what you are looking to achieve. Each of your social media channels should have a purpose that directly aligns with your goals. You don’t have to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or other social platforms if it doesn’t make sense for your business. Are you looking to social media as a customer service tool? Twitter is ideal for real-time, immediate conversation with your followers. Maybe your goal is product promotion? Instagram is a great visual platform to showcase your product and create engagement with your following. Perhaps you want to grow your customer base? Facebook engagement ads allow you to target your ideal audience and encourage them to follow and like your page to continue seeing your content.
PAID VS. ORGANIC
With social media algorithms changing frequently, businesses can utilize social media organically, with paid promotions, or a mixture of both. There is no right or wrong answer to whether or not paid or organic is the right choice. Often the most effective is a combination of both; however, it goes back to your goals.
Organic social media takes time, not dollars as the investment. By continuing to invest time in posting on social media, your audience wants to hear from you consistently. Organic content flows in the feeds of your audience to stay top of mind and keep your audience informed about events, promotions, and organizational updates. These are your regular updates, when you share a sale that you’re having in your store, a photo of a new product that just arrived, highlighting an employee, or sharing an article about a local fundraiser you are supporting. It’s also when you’re engaging with your audience by liking and commenting on posts of other businesses and individuals. The investment is time.
Paid social media efforts allow you to hone in on and target specific demographics. With all of the sophisticated targeting capabilities, you can be sure that your content is being seen by your ideal customers; this is a monetary investment. One way to utilize paid advertising is if you have a major product or content push you want to be sure is being seen by your target audience. Boosting your existing organic content on Facebook allows you to reach more of your target audience who may not be following your page, but match the profile of your “ideal customer.” You can also create specific ads to promote awareness and increase your reach or send traffic to your website, if you have an online store. Instagram has similar advertising capabilities but allows for more creative visuals to accompany your ads. Twitter ads allow you to further promote existing content on your page but is more heavily used for creating engagement and soliciting clicks and traffic to your website. Paid social media can also be used to build up your following with real, relevant followers and increase brand awareness and traffic to your website. If you’re struggling with what sort of content to include in your paid advertising budget, try starting with organic content to see how your audience engages and that has proven successful for your business. Start with the content you are already seeing a return on with your audience.
It’s good to create a conversation with your content, but it is also important to join conversations already happening online about your business and industry by simply listening. Sprout Social defines social listening as, “the process of tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries, and leveraging your insights to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.” Social listening offers businesses the opportunity to monitor, analyze, and listen to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, blogs, forums and news sites for conversations happening online about your business, brand, or specific keywords (like the many shoe brands you carry within your store or online). That being said, the insights gained go far beyond researching hashtags and manually scrolling through news feeds to gather data. With all this consumer research, social listening ultimately gives you the tools you need to develop and drive an effective content strategy to optimize consumer reach and propel your business towards a successful future.
Read, ‘The Power of Social Listening.’
If you’re not seeing a return on your social media investment, oftentimes, it not because of your product. It’s because you’re not telling the story of who you are as a business in a way that relates to your customers. All too often we see brands promote products by saying, “We’re the best! Buy our product!” But why are you the best? Customers are so used to the same old, “We’re the best, buy our product” language. Differentiating your business in a way that is easy for your customers to understand will make them more inclined to give you a shot. Simon Sinek argues that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Social media has the power to reach a wide range of customers and tell the story of your business, why you do what you do, create a connection with your customers, and ultimately make them want to do business with you.
It’s important to keep track of your social media metrics month over month and year over year to ensure that your social media strategy is hitting the mark and that you are achieving your digital marketing goals. Some vital metrics to measure include engagements, followers, and of course conversions.
Engagements represent the number of clicks, likes, comments, and shares of your particular posts. Engagements are important to track as they affirm that your audience is interested in the content that you’re posting. You may be posting creative content, but if your audience isn’t resonating with your posts, it can prove to be unsuccessful. Maintaining a significant following across your social platform is also something you want to be aware of when measuring brand health. Having a substantial number of followers is a sign of credibility and trustworthiness when users come to visit your page. This data shows that people have an interest in your business. That being said, the quality of your followers and who you are following is very important too. A follow from a consumer to your page is a way of saying I care what you do. The same goes for your business. You want to be sure your “endorsements” are reflective of who you are as a brand, to maintain that credibility and trust with your audience. Conversions represent a response to the call to action you are soliciting with your message, turning that lead into a customer.
Your social media objectives and strategy is going to be unique to your business and will take time to develop and execute, but if done correctly can and will have a great ROI for your business.