By DJ Muller
Social media has become an integral part of the marketing and communications plans of all organizations. As a cost effective means to engage, interact and celebrate with existing and prospective customer relationships, as well as heighten awareness and interest for your defined target audience, it is no surprise that social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are continuously growing in terms of popularity and functionality. Despite this ease of use, measuring the return on investment (ROI) of any given social media platform can be challenging. Yet, it must be done if you wish to maximize your communication efforts and make strategic decisions to foster organizational growth. The key to realizing success is creating and implementing a social media strategy that drives results. Here are six simple steps to help you get started:
- Set goals. Before you create an actionable plan that drives results, you must set goals that are simple, measurable, attainable, timely and relevant. Goal setting is crucial to developing a plan as the definition of goals helps you and your team to hone in on the overarching purpose of your social media strategy. For example, if the primary purpose of social media is to increase the exposure of your organization, you can set a goal to increase your connections, likes and followers by a specific percentage each month.
With a clear vision of your purpose and definition of goals, you will undoubtedly increase your likelihood of executing a successful plan.
- Make a plan. With your purpose and goals established, you should now create a plan that will help you meet these goals. Creating a quality plan is going to take patience, time and a considerable amount of research. First, you need to gather plenty of data by listening to and observing what your customers are saying and how they are choosing to interact (i.e., what platforms they prefer to use). Once you have collected a sufficient amount of data, you can strategically select which social media channels will be best to focus your efforts and subsequently appoint one person in your organization to manage these accounts. This will prevent the duplication of information and ensure that you are keeping your organization’s voice, tonality and personality consistent across all platforms.
- Create quality content. You should use intriguing and original content to engage your audience and set yourself apart among the numerous daily posts to which your connections/followers are exposed. Carefully curate and share relevant content, provide tips and insights, use media such as images, links, videos and infographics, ask questions, respond to mentions, share internal company news and celebrate your audiences’ achievements to show them that their happiness matters.
- Follow through. Creating your plan is only half the battle. If you want to maximize your communication efforts, you must constantly keep your team on track and follow through with the action items that you have set. Always remember to keep your staff and your audience energized by being authentic, transparent and implementing the tips above to create exceptional content. Most importantly, never forget to have fun and let your personality shine through.
- Monitor behavior. As an integral part of ensuring that you are sticking to your plan, you should monitor the behavior of your social media platforms to aid in the achievement of your goals. Make sure to use tools such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Analytics, Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Klout, Social Mention and Pinterest Web Analytics to reveal which of your platforms are performing the best. Subsequently, you can establish where to focus your future communication efforts.
- Measure ROI. Although there is no universal method from which all organizations can measure their social media ROI, it is still possible to find ways around the obstacles. For example, you can use the social reports within Google Analytics to measure traffic conversions, use online calculators such as HubSpot’s ROI calculator to place a monetary value on your efforts or consider a Cost Based Analysis (CBA) approach to help predict your success. Read more about using a CBA analysis in this article.
In today’s tech-driven society, the power and benefits of social media are immense. You need to make sure your organization is taking the necessary steps to leverage this power. Set goals, create a plan and quality content, stick to your plan, monitor behavior, measure the ROI of your efforts and adjust your future actions accordingly.
DJ Muller is president and founder of WebLink International, the creators of WebLink Connect™ the innovative, insightful and intuitive association management software with superior customer support. WebLink empowers hundreds of trade and professional associations and more than 500,000 small and medium businesses to help them acquire and retain more customers. Learn more at weblinkinternational.com.