Diving into Social Media for Business: The Fundamentals

September 22, 2014
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Matt Quirie
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Many businesses tend to initiate a social media strategy without any understanding of what it is they’re trying to accomplish. ­­And oftentimes that “strategy” is just a schedule for broadcasting stuff at people – say, one tweet a day. But with no intention of developing engagement or leveraging any insights gained to evolve their strategy, develop engagement, and nurture a growing audience, these businesses don’t actually have a social media strategy. They’re broadcasting content, but they’re spinning their wheels, never capitalizing on their efforts.

Because each unique business (and their audience) varies, social media demands a tailored strategy. A good place to start in establishing that strategy is familiarizing yourself with the possibilities. So let’s name a few. Social media can:

  • Offer the chance to engage one-to-one with your customers (which is particularly useful for service-based businesses responding to customers’ needs).
  • Allow you to create a visible discussion around your brand, one that engages your target audience and attracts new eyes.
  • Be a space to extend the reach and power of your branding campaigns.
  • Offer the chance to promote content and draw users over to your conversion properties (like your websites, landing pages, or apps).
  • Act as a place to publish deals and discounts, or new product updates.
  • Be an exceptionally large pool of new leads and networking opportunities.

Fortunately, for businesses trying to get started, there is one unifying factor in all of these strategies. It’s the basic social media strategy: engagement. Across the board, social media is about engaging with people – creating authentic, meaningful exchanges between consumers (people, really) and your business. Let’s take a look at how to develop a strategy around that idea.

Getting started

Because social media has responsiveness and authentic engagement at its core, creating a strategy from scratch and then simply ‘deploying’ it at your audience is already wrong. As Mikolaj Jan Piskorski – Harvard Business Professor and author of A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media – said in a recent interview:

“I recommend that firms de-emphasize broadcasting to their customers and spend more time helping their customers connect with each other or become closer to their friends.”

Instead, develop a simple, flexible strategy on which to build, test, and adapt. Take the following steps:

First, take some time to think about what specific kinds of engagement are going to strengthen your business’s unique value. What are your expectations, what are your goals, and how can you leverage social media’s unique possibilities to achieve them (look again at the list above and think about where your brand might see the most value). Identify themes that align with your brand (and your SEO keyword strategy), and generate topics around those themes.

Next, find a voice and tone that suits your business. This should be a natural extension of your brand. This can be difficult to nail, but you can refine as you go.

Then, just begin. Start sharing and testing. Focus on one, or a small selection, of social media networks to start: a fruitful presence on one network is much better than a weak presence on all of them. Start earning trust. Focus on connecting with people. Listen to what your target audience is saying and watch how they are responding. Monitor your conversions, and watch for correlations. Leverage that response to refine your strategy, moving forward with what works and leaving behind what doesn’t.

That’s the basic strategy, and from there the possibilities are fairly endless – you can push your business into better and better effectiveness, exploring new strategies in response to your audience, deploying new campaigns on top of your basic strategy.

That’s it for now. In our next two articles, we’ll focus on two ‘deeper’ social media strategies, which you can deploy on top of the foundation you’re already laying. If you’d like to learn more about leveraging social media for your business, get in touch. We’d love to help.

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