Do you have a social media strategy in place?
Social media is mainstream now. That means it's much more difficult to get noticed or even be seen by your existing connections, fans, and followers. But there are also more social networks and more noise to go along with them!
With so many options and so many people participating, how do you know where to focus your time and how can you stand out from the crowd?
If you've just been randomly posting to social networks without any kind of a strategy in place, it's time to do something different.
Random social media tactics lead to random results.
Having success with social media today requires a much more strategic focus.
Also, to be effective with social media requires a sort of alchemy. It's both a science and an art. Positioning yourself as an influencer is much more effective than just being a marketer.
Nobody likes a marketer. Marketers who aren't adding any real value to their social audiences end up getting ignored.
To build influence through social media requires a more strategic and thoughtful approach.
The idea is to leverage social networks to reveal your personality, passion for what you do, and your unique perspective in a way that helps your audience learn something new, solve a problem, and achieve more.
When you build influence on social media you make a human connection and resonate with your audience. You will magnetically attract the right people who trust you and they will naturally seek out your products and services.
When you operate with a build influence mentality as your social media foundation, the 7 rules below can help you take your strategy to the next level.
Rule #1: Create more than you consume
How much time do you spend perusing other people's posts on social networks?
Be honest with yourself. Do you consume more content than you create or share?
It's easy to get sucked into social networks. The minutes can turn into hours and for many this is a subconscious or mindless behavior.
Watch your time
I recommend being disciplined about how much time you allow yourself to lurk on social networks. It is valuable to spend some time engaging with your audience and also reviewing quality content related to your industry. Lurking, however, can be a colossal waste of time.
Engage with intent, focus, and discipline
When you do engage on social networks, do it with intent, focus, and discipline. This can help you to remain aware of how much time you are spending and what you are spending it on.
Have an 80/20 mentality
If you want to be a leader in your industry or niche and grow your influence, spend 80% of your time creating content and 20% of your time consuming it.
It's the content creators who prevail!
Rule #2: Prioritize your social media networks
There are so many social media networks out there now that it's impossible to keep up with all of them. These social networks have also become more complex and they change frequently by adding or taking away features.
You can no longer be fully engaged on every social network. There is just not enough time. You are much better off to prioritize the social networks where you spend time.
Consider the number of active users
It is difficult to predict which social networks will still be here in ten years. For this reason, I tend to focus on the social networks that have gained meaningful traction in terms of their number of active users and at least appear to have staying power.
I think it's fine to experiment with newer networks, but don't go all in until it becomes increasingly clear that the network will have staying power.
Go where your clients and customers are
Determine where your ideal clients and customers are most likely to be hanging out and spend your time there.
The social networks that you prioritize can change over time. For example, I've shifted my efforts somewhat over the last year and have made Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest more of a focus.
Stick with established, relevant social networking platforms
I’ve seen ‘experts' preach about being a first-mover on new social networks only to see some of those networks fold later on.
My advice is to stick with established platforms that are relevant to your business. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are constantly rolling out new and improved features. This makes it difficult for any newcomers to gain significant traction.
Rule #3: Expand your content formats and repurpose
It's no longer the case where we only publish text-based articles on our blogs and websites. In case you haven't noticed, online content has become much more visual and multimedia focused.
Visual images have become a very popular form of content as well as audio podcasts and videos. It is predicted that video will be the leading form of content created and consumed in the not so distant future. I'm not so sure about that. I do believe there will always be a place for the written word :).
The reality is that it's easier than ever now to create and share professional visual images, audio podcasts, and videos.
These formats are also highly personalized and arguably more powerful than the written word because they bring your message (and your voice) to life. This helps to break that digital barrier and foster a more human connection.
Take your message and repurpose it into different content formats.
Not only can you appeal to more people using different content formats, you can expand the distribution of your message. This is a great way to save time and energy.
For example, I can take this written blog post and:
- produce a compelling visual image to share it on image-driven social networks like Instagram and Pinterest
- record an audio podcast of this message and share it on social networks as well as content discovery channels like SoundCloud
- create a Facebook Live video (or recorded) video of this same message and share it across more social networks and content channels like YouTube
Figure out what your monthly or weekly content theme is going to be and create multiple forms of that same content. Share that content across your prioritized social networks and content channels.
Rule #4: Build a social community around your insights
More and more I believe having an online community that is plugged in to your message is a critical component for digital business success. Content without an engaged community doesn't go deep enough or wide enough.
Publishing on LinkedIn
One of the things I've always loved about LinkedIn is that you have a built in network effect for the content you publish there. However, now fewer and fewer of your connections receive the notification that you've published something new.
You have to thoughtfully promote your content more in order to get that visibility.
Social Media Groups
Creating or participation in Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Twitter chats are a few examples of where to build community.
There are many existing high quality groups where people are having conversations, giving feedback, and sharing resources. You can participate in relevant groups (thoughtfully and strategically) or start your own.
Facebook groups have become quite popular in recent months. You can find a Facebook group on almost any topic.
Facebook groups are easy to use and they work very well given that most of us are on Facebook. Group members also tend to be more engaged on Facebook versus LinkedIn groups in my experience.
When you build your own social community or group, not only can you position yourself as a leader and build your influence, you can also attract your ideal clients or customers into your business.
Rule #5: Leverage social media tools
If you aren't using digital tools to help with managing your social media strategy, you are missing a huge time-saving opportunity.
There are lots of great tools out there that can save you time, energy and money when it comes to growing your social media presence.
Your mobile device
Your #1 social media tool is your mobile device. Whether you use an iPhone or Android, your mobile device is a secret weapon to social media sharing and participation. You can share and engage quickly and on the go using mobile apps.
Each major social network has its own native mobile app while there are other tools for sharing content across multiple social networks. It can be time consuming to participate natively on every social networking app.
I suggest using the native social apps for engaging and use other social media management apps for sharing your content.
One of my favorite mobile social media management apps is Buffer (there is also a desktop version).
Buffer allows you to collect content (your own or from other sources) and share across multiple social networks according to a schedule that you create in advance. All you have to do is fill up your Buffer with content for each social network!
Another social media management tool that is brilliant is Meet Edgar. Meet Edgar is an amazing tool built for your desktop or laptop where you can create content ‘buckets' as well as a social media sharing schedule.
The great thing about Meet Edgar is you don't have to re-share anything. This tool will do it for you once you have your system set up.
For example, I share image quotes where I use a hashtag that represents my business theme #buildinfluence. If I load 50 quotes into this specific Meet Edgar bucket, the tool will cycle through my quotes and start over after all 50 have been posted over a particular schedule that I've created.
Rule #6: Hire a social media manager
Now before you think I'm suggesting that you outsource your entire social media strategy, let me be clear:
- You must develop and be in full control of your social media strategy. Whatever goes out on your social media networks is a reflection of you and your business.
- Don't ever outsource your engagement.
Create a detailed social media strategy
Before you outsource any of your social media management, you need to create a detailed social media strategy that clearly lays out what content will be shared, where it will be shared, and when it will be shared.
Your social media manager should understand your unique voice, your target audience, and your goals.
Hire someone to help you implement your strategy
Once you have a strategy in place, you can hire a social media manager to help you implement your social media strategy. That means that your manager will help manage the mechanics of the strategy, not the psychology.
Review your strategy on a regular basis
You will want to consistently review your social media strategy with your manager, stay on top of your analytics, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
I have found that this type of relationship with a social media manager can help to maximize your impact while minimizing your time. The key is finding the right person to do it.
I've been extremely lucky in this area. You could hire a virtual assistant like I did or even have someone on your team move into this role and provide them with the necessary training.
The bottom line here is that as entrepreneurs we should spend our time creating the content and get help with the distribution of the content.
Again, I'll reiterate that it is not a good idea to outsource your social media engagement. This is where I've seen people miss major opportunities (because the social media manager didn't recognize the opportunities) and even disasters where something gets completely miscommunicated.
Social media engagement includes activities like one-on-one conversations, comments, and even responding to messages from your connections or community.
It's very important to be authentic and personally accessible to your digital connections and community.
Rule #7: Consider social media ad campaigns
As social networks have grown (and several are now publicly traded companies) the ‘free' visibility and reach we once enjoyed has about disappeared.
Now on social networks like Facebook, for example, it is tough to gain traction unless you pay to run social ad campaigns.
There are many different types of social ad campaigns and most of the platforms are self-service.
Social ad campaigns can also be cost effective. LinkedIn ads cost significantly more, but they offer very unique targeting that is difficult to find on other social networks.
Social ad campaigns can help you amplify your content with the right people, increase engagement, and generate qualified leads for your business.
The cost of social ads continues to rise as more and more businesses jump on the bandwagon! You can also hire help for managing your social ad campaigns if you don't have the time to learn the platforms.
There is most definitely a learning curve with social media ads if you want to optimize your spending and reach.
I hope you have found these 7 rules to be helpful as you consider ramping up your social media marketing strategy.
Do you have a social media strategy in place? What do you think about these ideas for taking your strategy to the next level?
Share your comments below.