A massive 40 million people use social media every day.
Effective social media planning and training can help more businesses get a lucrative share of that audience. Read on to learn more.
How do I develop a lucrative money-making social media strategy for my business? Do I develop an internal social media team or take on the services of an external digital marketing agency?
With the explosion of social media usage over the last 5 years, these are questions more and more business owners and managers are asking themselves.
The fact is that no matter what type of business you own or manage, it would be somewhat naïve to ignore the huge audience and valuable customer base that social media can bring to a business or organisation, regardless of its’ size and sector.
But here lies the problem. A massive number of businesses still don’t know how to effectively plan and implement a cohesive and results-driven social media strategy. In other words, they just don’t know how to use social media to get new and paying clients or customers. Worst still, they may be wasting time and money on a bad social media strategy or taking on the services of a social media agency that just doesn’t understand their business.
Here’s why your business needs a cohesive social media outreach plan.
Over seventy percent of consumers say that social media influences their buying decisions. Furthermore, 80% of consumers are likely to purchase goods or items based on the recommendation of friends who use it. Another eye-watering statistic says that over a billion future potential social media users are born every day!
Whatever your own view on polls and statistics may be, one thing is clear; if you are looking for a constant and ongoing stream of new customers or clients then an effective, long term, social media plan and strategy must be implemented for your business.
However, a viable and effective strategy can only be successful if the people who are helping to implement it have a full and thorough understanding of what they need to do. Clear knowledge and guidance is needed in order for social media success to be consistent and continuous.
To help businesses understand how to effectively begin planning a profit-driven social media training and development strategy, we have compiled the following 5 main points of guidance. These will help business owners and managers understand which areas and key social media strategy stages to focus on and develop.
1. Understand the basics. Research why social media is important for your business.
Social media can transform the fortunes of businesses if it is understood and managed properly. Social media provides exposure and opportunities to access audiences which would otherwise be out of reach.
You don’t have to research every element of what makes social media work, but at least get an understanding of the positives; how it can help your bottom line, how it quickly helps you get your brand seen and how you can leverage and personalise it for your business’s exact needs and requirements.
Once you have been uplifted by its benefits, you will then be motivated to take the next steps to implement social media as part of your overall business’s digital marketing strategy.
Don’t overdo it though. One of the sad downsides to the social media marketing explosion has been the number of so-called ‘gurus’ who seem to pop up so irritatingly in our social feeds. My point is, there is a lot of irrelevant and confusing information online which can end up leading to confusion.
Just stick to the simple premise that quality is king and for long term social media success, your message needs to be simple, concise, helpful and beneficial to your prospect.
Social media is a brilliant outreach platform if you are seeking to educate your audience about on product or service. Once you build trust and empathy, your prospects will keep coming back to you.
2. Identify what specifically you want social media to do for your business.
Social media works in many ways to benefit businesses. However, many businesses have limited resources in terms of manpower and time to fully understand every element of how it can be beneficial. So, make things easier for yourself. You should devise a simple but clear agenda which outlines what you want to achieve from social media for your business.
Sales, marketing, customer support, client management. Social media can help with every one of these elements within your business. Identify where your business needs the most benefit and begin planning what you need social media to do for you.
Once you have done this you then need to identify what resources you have to fulfil these goals.
For example, is your business ready to spend time and resources to fulfil your social media development needs? Is your business ready, with a suitable product or service to fulfil the requirements of your social media audience? Who in your business will manage social media activities?
Once you have addressed all of these factors, you can begin outlining an action plan for a workable and cohesive social media strategy for your business. Remember though, a high-quality social media strategy will take time and effort to implement.
Don’t be put off by this. It is still the fastest and most efficient marketing medium to use to get your message or brand known to a targeted and designated audience. Investing the time to get things right in the early stages, will reap financial rewards for your business in the long term.
3. Keep your social media strategy plan simple, to the point and implementable.
Once you have decided what benefits you want for your business from your social media plan, you should begin outlining your strategy. This is not as difficult as it may seem, as long as you keep your goals simple and don’t over complicate them.
As with anything, start with a basic need. For example, if your aim is more sales then look at which social media platforms will serve best for your product or service. Understand how you need to start engaging potential clients on social media; which products or services will entice an audience; and how do you make these appealing to capture their attention?
Don’t however make the mistake of thinking that every social media platform is right for your business. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, all have a different type of audience, and not all are likely to be suited to your product or business’s requirements. Be clever. The idea is to devise quality content and information about yourself to a focused and targeted audience. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
Once you have identified and understood the mentioned points, you can then get to the crucial and most important part of who will manage your business’s social media plan and strategy. Will it be someone within your own business or an outside social media agency?
Both have their own merits and benefits; however, both have their own cost implications too, which can be a deciding factor depending upon the size and needs of your business. Deciding on which option is better for you will depend on how much you need from your social media activities.
If you are looking to get a short term view or are using social media for the first time, you may feel that choosing an agency will be the better initial option. From here you can see how effective an agency is and what is involved in the planning and implementation side of your social media campaign.
For businesses who have decided that it’s more cost-effective to set up an inhouse team or train their own staff member or members, they may choose to train these people through an external social media training agency.
These businesses have understood through experience with agencies that social media definitely works, but that hiring an external social media agency may be more costly in the long run, which for many businesses it most definitely can be.
4. Don’t get ripped off when choosing an external social media agency.
Digital marketing agencies who ‘specialise in social media’ are everywhere. As with most industries, some are good and some are bad. Experience and speaking to many small business owners tell us that the good ones (and there are many), will often charge prices according to their calibre and expertise. They are often too expensive for small businesses to take on.
At the other end of the scale so to speak, are the ones who charge a particular fee each month and will ‘post this and post that’ each week and update you on progress. This is where you need to be extremely careful. Any form of social media management involves a certain level of understanding, research and strategy on your particular business and industry. Has your chosen social media agency done this correctly?
A huge emphasis, quite rightly, has to be on content and writing articles on your business and industry and what service or product you are putting out. When a social media agency tells you that they will post and engage, you must ask them how and what they will be putting out there, how will they engage positively to show you in a good light, how long do they take to understand your business, how much time do they spend on your account?
Remember yours isn’t the only business social media account that these social media agencies will be managing. Chances are they will be doing social media management for numerous other businesses. Is your business social media really that important to them? Or are they just interested in undertaking the basics for your business so that they can show you something is active for the sake of their monthly fee?
Again not all external social media agencies operate this way, but a lot do, and some are way better than others. If you don’t ask them the right questions and just take on their services blindly, it’s your business that will suffer. Be wise, rigorously question your social media agency on how they will manage your businesses social media management.
5. Developing you’re own dedicated inhouse social media team should be the long term plan.
Why invest in staff social media training? Simple; because the best advocates and brand ambassadors for your business can in many cases be your own employees. You trust your workforce, they in turn trust you and your brand. Ultimately, they know what your business is all about.
They want to feel proud and they want to make you feel proud of them when they act as your brand advocates on social media. By empowering your own team through social media training, it can without a doubt prove to be a more cost-effective way of implementing a successful long term social media marketing plan.
However, it is important that you choose the people within your business who will understand the responsibility, and appreciate the trust that they are being given by the training which you are investing in them.
They must also understand that the businesses brand and integrity is being entrusted to them and that they can and must be able to handle the responsibility that goes with it.
It is imperative that staff members who are tasked with managing social media activity have attributes which include empathy, courtesy, good grammar and patience. After all, they will be representing your brand to a mass of new people, so any mistakes which they make will end up reflecting negatively on your business.
By going inhouse and training your own team to develop your social media training, you as a business owner or manager can manage, track and oversee the success of all your social media operations.
Ultimately businesses can manage sales, recruitment, customer feedback and campaign management through their own inhouse social media teams. Granted it’s not an overnight process to get it all set up and in place, but in the long term the amount of money and time that could be saved by your business, from avoiding outsourcing to external agencies will be of great benefit to your business.
Social media is dominating the way marketing departments are devising their sales and marketing goals. Need proof? Well just take a look at how many larger businesses and organisations are investing in inhouse social media departments and ongoing staff social media training and development. Coca-Cola, BMW, Cadburys, Boohoo.com, Slater and Gordon to name but a few.
Despite this, it is staggering when you consider the massive audience potential, how many businesses still don’t invest in any form of ongoing staff social media training and development.
The points outlined in this article should help those owners and managers who are considering taking their social media activities beyond the level of concept. These businesses can then confidently plan their approach to social media growth and development effectively, with a view to devising a strategy which works consistently for their employees and businesses.
If you would like any further advice and guidance on any element of your business’s social media training and development, please click here or visit us at www.squarebaseconsulting.com With over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing and digital marketing training, we are certain that we can make a positive difference to your business or organisation.
Article Written by M J Malik, Head of digital strategy at Squarebase consulting.