Let's kick this off with a quickfire quiz. How good is your current social media strategy?
How did you do?
It won't shock you to know that firing out a few tweets and Facebook posts with links to your blog is not a social media strategy.
A good social media strategy takes planning, consistency and a bit of elbow grease. But by doing it the smart way you can increase leads, conversions and sales without sacrificing too much time and effort.
This is how you get more with less.
Identify your goals and audience
First and foremost, you need to establish your goals and pin down your personas.
Want to run lots of competitions? Shout about all the great stuff you're doing? Use social media for recruiting? Want your customer service to be more responsive? Working out exactly what it is you're looking to do with social networks will help you focus your social media strategy.
The other key is identifying who it is you're talking to – who is you ideal audience? You should develop your buyer personas to determine your audience's main challenges and what they want to hear.
Armed with your objectives and personas, you can single out the social media platforms your ideal customers use and focus your activity on them.
Keep a content calendar
A sound social media strategy begins with the content.
It might sound like a lot of work, but if you plan first and suss out monthly themes and messaging in advance, you'll save time down the line as you'll know who needs to write what when.
You should also establish your post-publication sharing process. Where are you going to share your content? What soundbites and snippets can you use from the piece? What time are you going to share it?
Know your channels
Not all social media channels are created equal, so customise and target content to each platform. You can’t stretch a tweet-sized piece of copy across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc – it’s a waste of everybody's time.
You need to know what works where. Twitter, for instance, is very useful for asking questions and reacting to customers quickly, while pictures are the preserve of Instagram and Pinterest. But, saying that, images win on most channels; Tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets and photos on Facebook attract 53 percent more likes and 104 percent more comments than the average post.
Each channel also has optimal posting times. While you should concentrate your LinkedIn posts around 7AM to 9AM and 5PM to 6PM, Tumblr posts are most effective between 7PM and 10PM.
Follow the 10:4:1 rule
Fortunately, not all of your posts have to link to your own content. In fact, according to HubSpot's 10:4:1 rule, 10 out of every 15 posts should link to content created by others.
This could be a news story related to your industry; a cool fact, stat or infographic; a quotation from an industry leader; an upcoming industry event; a helpful resource – whatever it is, it should be relevant, from a reputable source and it should resonate with your personas.
Recycle your content
Once you've built up a nice back catalogue of content, don't be afraid to recycle your own content to give it a new lease of life.
Particularly on fast-moving channels like Twitter, where the half life of a link is about 2.8 hours, posting the same thing more than once is essential if you want it to stay visible. Just make sure you write a different preamble to make it less repetitive.
You should also listen to your social media channels to see what's trending. You may well have written a blog post a couple of months or years ago that's suddenly relevant again.
Tinker, test and try your way to a super social media strategy
Of course, this is just a rough guide; the best way to hone your social media strategy and find the right formula is to put on your science hat and start experimenting and measuring. The more data you have, the easier it is to spot patterns and find what works best for you and your audience.
Hat tip to lord enfield for the photo.