Sometimes the proof is in the pudding.
In 2015, one of our clients asked us to rework their social media strategy. Social media was growing in importance within their industry, and beyond a basic Facebook presence, the business really had not done much with social media at all. Our agency was thrilled to learn in January of this year that the client’s top line revenues doubled over the previous 12 months, and they credited much of the boost to the rippling effects of the social media overhaul.
Here’s a 10 step social media plan that captures the key elements of our strategy. Of course, no two companies are the same, and each will be in a different starting place with social media. However, hopefully this step-by-step guide can offer some touchpoints for looking at your own company’s social media strategy, and who knows, it may just double your revenue too!
1. Tidy Up Stray Social Media Accounts
Often organizations delve into social media marketing with a stop-and-start strategy. Various employees within the company get assigned the task of managing the organization’s social media presence and setting up the accounts. The result can be a mishmash of social media pages and no master list of usernames or passwords to access those pages. As employees change, accounts are forgotten and continue to live on the internet with posts that may be years old.
Before launching a new social media strategy, identify and streamline all social media accounts. Deactivate unused ones and ensure the company name reads consistently across all social media platforms.
2. Set Up a Social Media Posting Schedule
Erratic posts on social media reflect a haphazard approach to content. To develop an audience, every company that is using social media needs a posting schedule. Content should be varied and planned to include blog posts, original middleweight and lightweight content, curated articles, pieces of interest, infographics, and video. Within the posting schedule, key original longform pieces, or pieces over 800 words, should be repurposed and reused.
Establish a content calendar and daily posting schedule. Create content in advance to post on social media, and hyperlink back to key longform content on your website several times per month.
3. Write a Blog
We began to ghostwrite a monthly blog for the client. The blogs became the cornerstone pieces of longform, heavyweight content. The objective of the blogs was to establish thought leadership by covering relevant topics in the client’s space. Depending upon the industry, the frequency of blogs will vary, but the key is the consistency, originality and quality of the blogs that are being posted.
Either write a blog or hire someone to ghostwrite one for you. Build content authority and establish thought leadership in your field.
4. Gather and Post Employee-generated Content
One of the most difficult aspects of managing a client’s social media presence is learning and ultimately reflecting the appropriate voice for that client. Without it, the content will seem out of place and is less likely to engage the audience. Our team encouraged the client’s employees to send us pictures from various work-related events they attended. All of the employee-generated content was vetted for appropriateness and usability and then some of it was posted.
Establish a stream of appropriate, employee-generated content for use on social media. It will personalize the business and gave a face to the employees.
5. Use Hashtags
For many companies, the use of hashtags is a mystery. Hashtags are words or groups of words preceded by a “#.” The pound sign turns the word(s) into a searchable hyperlink, and hashtags allow people to find other internet content that contains the same hashtag. One of our clients recently told us that they were advised that hashtags were “just for fun.” Not so. As a company tries to grow its audience reach, hashtags become a critical tool, which can identify and “tag” the type of content they are distributing. New clients don’t know you and would not necessarily know where to look for you on the web either. Hashtags provide a way for people to find your posted content and from there, possibly go on to your company website.
Our client had never used hashtags in their Facebook posts. We developed a list of relevant hashtags for reference and began using them across all of their social media platforms.
Research and use appropriate hashtags with social media posts. Register new hashtags relevant to the business on sites like Twubs.
6. Brand Social Media Banners, Backgrounds and Profile Pictures
While every social media platform is different, they will typically offer the account holder an opportunity to customize and upload a banner, background, or profile picture. It’s a fabulous branding opportunity. Customized visuals that are sized properly and utilize compelling images can make an immediate statement about a company and advertise the brand. Images that are not sized properly, pixilated or look hastily done also say something about the organization.
Create and customize social media banners, backgrounds, and profile pictures with imagery and correctly sized logos which amplify the business brand.
7. Set Up a YouTube Channel
Videos and live streaming continue to grow in importance. Our client had a handful of videos that had been done over the years, and the videos were scattered across multiple websites. We tracked them all down and uploaded them onto a newly created YouTube channel for the business. The YouTube channel banner was customized and linked back to the client’s other social media platforms and website. We categorized the videos as well.
Consolidate any video or webinar links on a branded company YouTube channel.
8. Add Live Streaming
It depends upon the business as to whether live streaming makes sense. In the case of this client, our team decided that live streaming conversations about different aspects of the business could draw a new audience. We chose Blab which allows 4-way live stream conversations. Cheat sheets and bulleted reference point documents were developed for each team member in advance of the scheduled “Blab.” The live streams were promoted on social media in advance and the links used with content on social media afterwards.
Establish a live stream series that can be advertised in advance on social media and boosted with paid social. Use the session links to advertise the content after completion.
9. Constantly Re-evaluate the Social Media Strategy
The business had a fairly steady flow of visuals that we were able to post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and a LinkedIn company page. All had a growing list of followers. Yet after doing some research on comparable businesses in the same industry, it was clear that Instagram was an untapped medium. We established an Instagram presence for the client, started developing content and posted regularly on Instagram. People began engaging with the Instagram posts immediately, and the number of followers continues to grow.
Re-evaluate your social media strategy along the way and be on the lookout for additional platforms that can add a new audience dimension.
10. Add Paid Social
Facebook continued to be the dominant social network for the client, both in terms of actively growing followers and engagement. In addition to a Facebook ad campaign, we began to selectively boost posts that were tied to key pieces of longform content on the website. The strategy revolved around growing the client’s thought leadership amongst a wider audience. To grow the local presence for the business, we also added geographically targeted boosts based on location plus radius.
Use paid social to strategically boost content posts, both geographically and across carefully defined target audiences.
Hopefully, our 10 step social media plan can become the basis for your company’s strategy, or at the very least, get your team talking about how to re-energize the social media game plan.
- There needs to be a social media strategy. No, really.
- Social media demands consistency, attention and time.
- It’s hard. If you don’t have the skills, software or patience to properly create a custom social media banner, for example, outsource it.
- Social media is constantly evolving. Note the subtle shift taking place from video to live streaming.
A successful social media strategy engages the right audience with the right content. If your social media results are a disappointment, it just may be time for an overhaul.
Originally published January 31, 2016 on the Resourceful Business blog.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community