by Shannon Little/Special to The Shelby Report
Social media today shapes how we function as a society. It’s an integral part of how humans operate.
But in this age of social media, many businesses struggle to find their path in utilizing online platforms to their benefit. Trends show that not only is this use of social media not changing any time soon, but our society is evolving to adopt new trends at a rapid rate. Taking advantage of these tools is not only now a benefit to a business, but a necessity. Yet, determining what to use and how to use it is a big struggle for many businesses. Having a strategy in place can help an operator focus in on how to get the most out of social media for his or her own business.
There are basic elements to forming a social media strategy that a business can use to find their path in this marketing opportunity.
First, in a social media strategy, a business should determine the target audience. Ask these questions: what is the gender, age group and geographic location of my audience? What social media platforms are they using? Determine which platforms your business will use based on what your audience uses. Don’t just hop on a platform because it’s trendy. You will get the most out of a platform by being active where your target audience is spending their time.
After determining audience and platforms, focus on your message. What are you going to say to your audience? Think about what you want people to know about your business and what value you are going to provide your audience online. Sharing relevant news stories, announcing product launches, offering deals and providing tips on your trade are all examples of how to potentially engage with your audience and provide value to them.
After defining messaging, spend time thinking about how to craft your social media platforms and messages to reflect your brand. Ensure each of your social media profiles is 100 percent reflective of your brand. Develop each platform to fit your personality. Fill out each profile completely to look active, engaged and professional. Make sure all business information is up to date and accurate. Upload beautiful photos that reflect your brand and personality. Set profiles up so each audience can easily engage with your business online.
Similarly, ensure that each message is crafted to reflect the brand of your business, just like your platforms. Use specific brand wording. Tell your brand stories. Communicate in a way that is unique to your business. This is your way to show your personality. Engage with your audience online, just like you would in real life. Social media is a reflection of the customer service standards your business sets, so ensure that your customer service online is just as on-point as your customer service in real life.
Lastly, to go the extra mile and put yourself above the rest—do a competition analysis. Do your research to determine who your competitors are, what their social media strategy looks like and how your strategy can be better than theirs. Research what they are doing and how it is working for them. If it’s working, think about why it is working and how you can adopt those strategies for your own business. If you think it could be improved, think about how your competitors could improve it and adopt those strategies for your business.
A strategy is a constant work in progress. As you establish how you want to present your business online, set up a system to re-evaluate yourself every so often. Look at the strategies you have in place and how they are working for you. Elevate the strategies that are producing the results you want, and adapt the strategies that are not. Keep an eye on your competition. How are their visible strategies and results evolving over time compared to yours? What can you retool on your end to continue to reach your social goals?
Your business is online, whether you are or not. People do not have to have your permission to talk about your business on the internet. Developing a social media strategy will help you own that online presence and cultivate it to make it your own.
Marketing strategist Shannon Little is the former marketing and events coordinator for Huey’s Restaurants, a local restaurant chain in Memphis, Tennessee. Examples of Huey’s Restaurants’ social media strategy can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube—all @HueysRestaurant. Little assists small businesses and nonprofit organizations in developing and implementing communication strategies. A proud Memphian, she also uses her skills to assist community organizations such as East Buntyn ArtWalk, Leadership Memphis and Levitt Shell. In her free time, she loves traveling, live music and spending time with family. Connect with Little on Twitter at @shannonRlittle.