There are still too many Canadian businesses that dismiss social media as a marketing and public relations strategy. The most common reasoning I’ve heard is the claim that they’ve tried social media and it didn’t result in sales. Frankly, if you can’t increase sales with an audience of people at your disposal, who have enough interest in your business or product already to want to “follow” you, you’re doing it wrong.
To be a success in social media, you need an effective social media strategy that is simple to follow and implement. It can (and should) grow in complexity as you learn.
“Social strategies can take myriad forms that need not be extraordinarily complex, but they do need to portray a clear plan for what you’re doing and why.” says expert, John Lovett, in his book Social Media Metrics Secrets. “A sound social strategy will provide validation for your social activities and a reference point to keep you on track.”
The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How Social Media Strategy
Just the need for a strategy can be intimidating for a business trying to feel their way through social media. However, it can start as simply as the old writing guide of who, what, when, where, why and how. As you begin developing your strategy based on these basic questions, you’ll find it expands easily and naturally until you come up with a plan that suits your company.
Who are you trying to reach? Different social media networks attract different types and groups of people. Demographics can be combined with experience and statistics for a more effective social media strategy. For example, 58% of Canadian Moms visit social networking websites every day, with an additional 19% logging in weekly. The most popular social network among Canadian Moms is Facebook, followed by YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest.
Also keep in mind that the type of post that appeals to a teen may be distasteful to a senior citizen. A store manager can be friendly, yet professional, and in most cases that’s the safest tone for you to set in social media. Of course, you will also use a different tone and tactics for a largely business audience than you would in business-to-consumer social marketing.
What are you trying to accomplish? Sales and traffic are goals, but they’re not the focus of social media marketing. The focus of your social media marketing strategy should be engagement, community development, service, facilitating the ultimate customer experience, digital ‘word of mouth’, and nurturing the kind of trust that comes from familiarity. It’s about giving, not taking. You’re not trying to convince people to buy from you, you’re trying to motivate them to want to buy from you.
When is the best time to reach customers or launch campaigns? If you’re trying to sell trendy backpacks to teens, engage them after school and into the early evening. August is a great time to offer a contest to win one of your backpacks, just in time for back-to-school. Begin to share holiday content infused with subtle promotions before the celebration. Timing is everything online, just as it is offline.
Where are your customers? This can apply to which social media network(s) they use, what device they’re using (such as a SmartPhone), or where they are physically located. It’s another time to utilize Canadian consumer statistics to ensure you are targeting the right social networks. If you’re after local traffic, there are ways to optimize your social media marketing to grab them too.
Why are people following your brand? If you want to gain and keep your social media followers, you must give consumers what they want. The 2013 Digital North report from ExactTarget indicates Canadians as a whole are most commonly after contests, freebies, discounts, product and service news, exclusive content, information pertaining to their interests, and brand association. Statistics are great, but don’t forget to also ask your followers what they need from you.
How can you use social media to serve your customers while maintaining a measurable return on investment (ROI)? Social media ROI is an elusive measurement. There are analytics and methods of measurement that can be used to determine ROI to a point, but there are also unmeasurable benefits that experts liken to measuring the ROI of the telephone. We can’t measure the full impact of word-of-mouth benefits, but we know they exist regardless of the tool used to share. No marketing method is 100% trackable, nor are the benefits of excellent customer service, etc. The key is to find out what your followers want from you and give it to them, because there is no way you won’t profit from that. Measure what you can but don’t get too caught up in the numbers.
Canadian consumers have reached a point where they expect (if not demand) your presence on social media networks. They want to get to know you and they want you at their fingertips for customer service. If they don’t find you, they’ll find your competitor. Listen to your followers and social savvy consumers in general and do everything you can to meet their needs.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to put forth consistent effort in perpetual learning, research, and implementing social media strategies, hire someone who can do it for you (at least part-time). Forget degrees and agencies as neither is a guarantee of talent in this arena. Look for a demonstrated knack for social media coordination and implementation, including other aspects of social marketing (such as blogging). It’s easy enough to test for complimentary skills, such as an understanding of social media metrics. Access a Canada-wide pool of talent by searching for someone who is gifted in online communications and able to work from their home office. You may be surprised at how affordable and profitable it can be to hire your own social secret weapon.
Need some guidance? Here are a few expert resources to help you learn more about using social media for business success:
- Free LinkedIn training is available at LinkedU: How to Create a Massive LinkedIn Referral Network with THE Most Influential Players in Your Market.
- The book Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and More, was revised and expanded in 2015 and is perfect for social media novices.
Have you struggled with social media success? We encourage you to ask questions in the comments below.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Canadian Social Media Statistics
The Elusive ROI of Social Media [Infographic]
Use Organic Local SEO to Increase Foot Traffic
What are Pro Canadian Marketers up to in 2013/2014? (Statistics)
Economical Hiring – A Marketing Assistant Can Manage Your Online Presence
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