It’s easy to rush headlong into things with a burst of enthusiasm that you will not be able to sustain. Having worked in marketing environments for most of my professional life, I’ve seen fads come and go and one wonders whether the majority of them were worth the time and effort.

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Do you *really* know what you want to get out of your social media activity?
(Image via Shutterstock)

Social media marketing, however, is no such fad; it is here to stay in one guise or another, although many people get quickly disillusioned with it. This is because they take the wrong approach initially, focusing on the wrong things, attempting to do too much too soon without any forethought about the wider context.

To avoid these pitfalls, I have come up with a checklist of eight things you should consider before you embark upon social media marketing:

 

1) What are you hoping to achieve with your social media marketing?

 

The most important question asked in this article, for the answer will inform all aspects of your social media marketing activity.

You may even conclude that social media marketing is not necessarily appropriate or affordable for your business. There is nothing inherently wrong with that although it is worth pointing out that some form of online presence is needed for most businesses now, even if it just a basic one. 

 

2) Who is going to be involved with social media marketing in your organisation?

 

Social media activity doesn’t just happen and it is not something that can just be bolted onto someone’s job description. Someone in your organisation has to implement it means and therefore social media marketing is a cost to your business; it has to be properly resourced and budgeted for.

Ask how your social media dovetails into your existing marketing activity and overall communication policies.  Social media marketing isn’t just a detached process; it’s integrally tied to your other online marketing tools (i.e a website) as well as traditional offline marketing activities (generation of brochures, attending conferences etc.)

 

4) What content is needed for a social media marketing campaign?

 

Social media conversations revolve around posting or sharing content.  Whether it be just a sentence of under 140 characters or if you need to write a 2000 word blog article (a link to which you will share on the social networks), content needs to be written regularly and to a professional standard.

This needs a clear plan as to what content needs to be generated, who would be the person to do it, and an understanding as to when and how often this content needs to be created.

 

5) Which social networks will your organisation be on?

 

Each social network has its own unique method of use and own particular demographic, so research thoroughly which social networks would be suitable for your organisation’s purposes.

A word of caution; don’t try and do too much at once when launching your social media marketing campaign, especially if your resources are limited. It is better to master and sustain one social network than be on all of them simultaneously and fail.

 

6) What will be your response time to interactions with others via social media?

 

With a social media marketing strategy in place, you will now be broadcasting to a wider world and, if you are doing it right, people will be responding to you (both publicly and privately). This means replying to them in turn, and doing so promptly and correctly.

One of the unfortunate aspects of great connectivity in the modern world is people expect others to be immediately accessible and responsive to any communication. You shouldn’t, however, necessarily respond to all social media queries instantaneously as you will not always be able to do so.

By responding immediately, you will be giving a clear signal and creating an expectation that you can and you always will.  Conversely, you cannot let interactions be drawn out over several hours or days; you have got to be seen to be on the network and responsive to it.

 

7) How will you use social media to research and monitor your competitors, existing clients and potential customers?

 

Marketing is not just about broadcasting your message to a wider world; it is also about seeing what others are saying about you and what other developments are happening in your particular field or sector.

There are myriad number of functions and tools out there which will allow you to do this (such as Twitter Lists), but there are simply too many to go into here.  For the time being, just be aware that social media is a research tool as well as a broadcast one.

 

8) What analytics will you apply to your social media marketing?

Any activity undertaken by an organisation should be assessed for its efficiency and profitability, and social media marketing is no different. The first question in this article whether they have been met.

How you measure whether they have been met depends really on what your goals were, and you will have to try and isolate other factors away from social media in your assessment.

There are, however, some evergreen metrics that clearly demonstrate whether your online marketing is having an impact, and a good marketer will be able to talk you through these dispassionately and without spin.

 

Nick Lewis Communications can provide training in social media marketing as well as offer professional management of social media feeds. To find out, please e-mail info@nicklewiscommunications.com or call 07970 839137.

 

Nick Lewis is a communications professional with over 15 years’ experience of working in both the private and public sector.

Nick is now using his wealth of skills and experience to help small businesses and organisations adapt to the modern online age. He helps individuals understand the possible successful applications of Social Media for their business and how they can use and monitor online materials and Social Media themselves to meet their professional goals.

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