Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

Do you need a social media strategy? (Yes). Read now or pin for later.

If you are reading this, you may not need to be convinced that you should be including social media in your marketing mix. In fact, you are probably already doing some things with social.

However, I’m going to guess that what brought you here is the fact that you are not getting the results you were hoping for, and you are looking for what is missing.

Spoiler alert: it’s a strategy built around getting results. Another spoiler alert: “Social Media” is just another marketing channel. The basic principles of marketing still apply here.

Unfortunately, “social media” conversations are often separated from marketing conversations. Social media is being treated as this flashy, mysterious, separate new thing… but at the end of the day it is JUST a marketing channel like print, radio, or television.

If you take just one thing from this article, let it be this:

#socialmedia is often a separate conversation from marketing. But it is JUST another channel. Click To Tweet

Yes, it has unique qualities that make it a special animal. But, don’t all channels have their own nuances? I believe they do.

Knowing that social media is just another marketing channel, now you might be questioning if you need it after all. While I LOVE social media, and have built my career on it, I’m actually not a “social media is for everyone” gal.

However, there are some real benefits to investing in social media.

What Makes Social Media Special?

Although social media may be just another channel, it has some unique characteristics that make it more attractive than other options.

Exponential Reach Potential

Other types of marketing messages are often “one and done.” As soon as the commercial is aired or the printed material has been read and discarded, your message is done for. With social media, your content has the potential for exponential reach. Your article or video can be shared or bookmarked. It lives out on the interwebs for people to find and consume again in the future.

Social media leverages momentum. Everyone starts with zero fans or followers. But with consistent, quality content and appropriate engagement activities, audiences grow, and so too does the sharing power of your audience. In essence, with social media you are turning your audience into your marketing channel.

Cost

With cost, we are talking about more than just money. Time and human resources also come at a price. While social media gets a bad rap for being a time suck, it more than makes up for it with how adaptable and real-time it is. (Side note: I don’t really know that it really is a time-suck. Creating any good sales materials/marketing messages requires a solid investment of time.)

There is virtually no lead time on creative and getting messages posted. While I’m not encouraging you to slap up any old content, it’s not like a magazine ad that has to be purchased in advance and the ad delivered 6 weeks before it’s even printed, etc.

With the ability to target very specific groups of people, there is very little monetary waste. The amount of information entities like Google and Facebook have on us is incredible, and they make it available to us marketers. Why not reach the exact people that you want to reach where they are spending their time? (It’s on social media.)

Measurability (made-up word)

Although there is always debate around the best way to measure the ROI of social media, I don’t know that this is any worse than radio, television or a print ad. With traditional channels, we’ve always relied on circulation numbers and estimated audience sizes. However, with digital, you get data on how many people saw your video, where they dropped off at, where they clicked through to, etc. Although from time to time we see news stories of numbers being inflated or incorrectly reported by the Facebooks and Googles of the world, we have so much insight on people’s online behavior. We have a level of visibility that we’ve never had before.

Transparency

Social media is, well, a social endeavor for people. When someone likes your page or follows you on social media, you are being invited into their personal feed, alongside news of their BFFs and family members. It feels personal, even when people are engaging with brands.

Social media raises the level of transparency between your brand and your fans (or at least provides the illusion of it.)

With consistency, transparency and “friendly” content, the “know, like, and trust” factor of your brand increases. At the end of the day we all just want to connect with other humans.

Highly Adaptable

I mentioned this above, but social media is real-time and you can pivot in an instant. You can quickly and easily jump on trends or current events and be part of conversations that people are already having on social media.

Where the People Are

If there is any question left as to whether or not you should be on social media, let’s cover a few quick stats about the adoption and influence of social media.

Nearly 7-in-10 Americans use social media1 and 28% of all time online is spent on social media sites.2

41% of people who purchase a product say they weren’t planning on buying an item before they stumbled upon it online.3

45% of digital buyers say that reading reviews and feedback online have influenced their shopping behavior.4

Why Do You Need a Social Media Strategy?

A good social media strategy supports your business goals. How much do you want to grow your business this year? What do you need to make that happen?

This is where you need to “know your numbers.” How many leads do you close a sale on?

For instance, a real estate agent knows that between 3-5 of every 100 people they make contact with will turn into a listing.

Direct sales companies (think: Mary Kay, Young Living, LulaRoe, etc.) give their representatives a per person average that they can expect to make. For every person they present their product to, they expect to make X amount of money. Not every person spends that perfect average amount, but some spend more and some spend less. (That’s how averages work ;).)

Smart sales people know that if they are selling below average, they need to improve some of their skills.

Without a social media strategy, there is no way to tell if your social media is “working.” A social media strategy looks at what you want to accomplish (goals) and defines the steps you will take to get there.

Without that road map, you are just wasting your time. Who cares if people visit your website if they never buy or come in to visit you? Who cares if your post gets 1,000 likes if it never turns into dollars in your pocket? You must know your end goal, and what it takes to get there. Only then can you figure out how social media can support those goals.

With a solid strategy, it becomes easy to see what is working and what isn’t. If you aren’t getting what your business needs, you need to pivot what you are doing. Isn’t it great that with all of the information available to us, we actually can pivot so quickly?

How to Write Your Social Media Strategy

Now that you understand why social media is so crucial to businesses today and what a social media strategy should be, stay tuned for my seven-part blog series detailing how to actually write a social media strategy that gets results. Here are the upcoming parts of the series:

  • Part 1: Business Problems. Starting with the end in mind and setting social media goals.
  • Part 2: Defining Your Audience. The foundation for creating 1:1 conversations.
  • Part 3: Setting Goals. Choosing your the “domino” that creates momentum in your business.
  • Part 4: Choosing the right platforms – based on your audience and goals
  • Part 5: Identifying tactics – knowing when to spend time and/or money
  • Part 6: Serving your audience – developing content that sells
  • Part 7: Monitor/Tweak/Audience

(As the blog series is published, I will come back and add links to each post.)

Do you already use a social media strategy? Or is it mostly in your head?

1 http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/
2 http://www.adweek.com/digital/time-spent-online/
3 http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/masroor/2015-05-28/social-media-biggest-influencer-buying-decisions
4 https://www.emarketer.com/Article/How-Social-Media-Influences-Shopping-Behavior/1013718
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2 Comments

  1. Reply Dr. Glass

    This is an excellent and informative read, Molly! Social media can grown monumentally in the last three years. This article/post would have been an excellent resource to have during my dissertation research: Investigating the Effectiveness of Social Media: The Impact on Brand Identification and Organizational Performance in Small to Medium Sized Business. I’m freaking elated to follow such social media and digital marketing peers and experts.

    • Reply Molly Marshall

      Wow, thanks! That sounds like quite the dissertation 🙂 Would love to check it out!

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