This year, Facebook commanded an active audience of 600 million users. In the United States this accounts for one in every four people, in the UK 23% of people use Facebook and 1 in 13 globally access this social networking tool. Business growth is increasingly tied to digital engagement. But what is engagement anyhow and how do you establish an effective way to judge the ROI of such engagement? It is important to thoroughly examine those questions before embarking on any serious social media strategy. One common misconception is that simply having a Twitter account or a Facebook page means that you are done. Herein lies the problem. In the digital world, the old adage “if you build it, they will come” is simply not true. You need to build it, nurture it, tear down and rebuild it, and then repeat. Constantly. It is not an easy process. There are, however, some tricks to employ to make it slightly less time consuming.
1. Clearly Establish Your Objectives
What is your purpose for going online? Is it to make more money, raise awareness about your brand or product, or something else? Putting these in bullet points will help you later- when establishing the metrics for measuring ROI once you get the ball rolling.
2. Identify the Person/people and Hours You are Willing to Dedicate
Effective social media strategies can be time consuming. Make sure that whoever is tasked with executing these measures actually has enough time to do them. Another way to become more efficient is to automate parts of your social media strategy.
3. Identify Your Target Platforms
Last year Facebook’s fastest growing demographic was women over 55 years old. This has been a total game changer in the eyes of many- an indication that older, more affluent people are migrating to social media as a means to engage with their communities. Twitter is also a powerful tool to use to increase your brand and engage people.
4. Prepare an Outline
This is a precursor to your overall digital strategic marketing plan. Determine what your goals are for using social media in your business. Evaluate the tools, platforms and technologies available to you to achieve your goals and objectives. Once you have an outline, it’s time to examine the tools you will be using to execute your objectives. During the inception process, your main objective should be focusing on: the audience.
5. Your Audience
Find Your Audience
Examine the product or service you offer. Who are your buyers or consumers? Where do they reside, collaborate and converse online? A good place to start is by scanning the audience of your competitors’ blogs. Technorati (link http://technorati.com/) is among the largest blog search sites available. Run a search on the site, and find 5 to 6 of your competitors. The regular commentators on these sites comprise a good example of your audience.
Listen to Your Audience
This is a commonly skipped step. Social media offers a 2.0 experience to its users. Web 2.0 is a term used to refer to the phenomenon that occurs when users are given the opportunity to converse directly with each other and the companies and businesses that they choose to relate to.
In a real world example, compare it to a face to face conversation. There is an opportunity for talking, but also an opportunity for listening. Any good conversationalist will tell you that listening is as important, if not more important, than talking.
Listening on the web can be one of many things. Monitoring hashtags on Twitter , reading blog comments, ‘liking’ your competitors on Facebook and establishing Google keywords are good places to start.
Analyze Your Audience
You’ve found them and listened to them. What are they talking about? What platforms do they use to communicate with each other and your competitors? What information do you have that could be of use to them? Answer all of these questions and plug them into a visual spreadsheet.
Now that you’ve established your objectives, who will carry them out, where and why, it’s time to piece all of that information into a digital marketing plan. Stay tuned for the next post, where we will be examining how to do just that, along with establishing effective analytics tools to be on top of making every ounce of effort bring the outcome you desire.