What is Social Media Success for You?
Everyone has a different reason for using social media–from an artist sharing the creative process via Instagram, to the local food truck sharing their evening location via Twitter, to a national business running promoted posts about their new upcycled coffee cup cozies. You measure success according to your goals. When many people think of social media success, they think of posts that receive a lot of engagement – likes, favorites, shares, retweets and pins. The results can include increased brand awareness and more traffic to the site. For others, success means getting social fans and followers to make a purchase or inquire about a service.
Different Goals, Same Foundation
How you measure success depends on your goals–but the foundation for social media success is the same across industries and goals. Just as there are certain things that need to be in place for business success (vision, a great team, a market for your product or service, etc) social media success needs a foundation. Your starting point is always to define your goals. Then, you need three things to lay your foundation: a good website, clear branding, and quality graphics. When you have a solid foundation, you can build anything!
Whatever your social media goals are, there are several essentials that must be in place before you’re ready to dive into your social media strategy (and yes, there MUST be a strategy). Below we’ll walk you through the foundation you need for a branded, smart and integrated social media strategy that works for you.
Are You Even Ready for Social Media?
To evaluate your social media foundation, ask yourself these questions:
- Is my website up-to-date?
- Does my website contain informational articles that explain who we are, what we do and why we do what we do?
- Is my branding solid?
- Can I outline my goals and objectives for social media management?
- Can I show examples of the types of companies whose web presence I admire as well as those I abhor?
If you answered ‘No’ to any of the above questions, your marketing efforts are better spent honing in on those areas before you take them to market so to speak. Here’s why these elements are so important to social media success:
Social Media Foundation #1: Website
Your website is key to getting social media followers to become brand supporters and eventually customers. While there are some exceptions to this (i.e. local businesses that aren’t focused on ecommerce or site traffic and conversion), an up-to-date and robust website is a vital to the success of your social media strategy. If your social posts can’t connect your fans, followers, pinners, customers and community to places where they can learn more about what you do and how to support your work, then you aren’t serving your audience or your business well in the long run.
Here’s an example of how having a solid website impacts your overall social media results:
Say your company, Functional Potatoes, makes spoons out of potato peels. You want to tell people about the environmental impact of using your spoons versus plastic cutlery. You feel your target audience cares about their environmental impact and reducing the overall use of plastic is part of your mission. To achieve this, you could post either of these to Twitter:
A: Post the statistic itself: “Potato spoons saved 5,000 pounds of plastic from the landfill last month! #gogreen #PotatoRevolution” If your audience finds this interesting, it may get re-tweeted several times.
B: Post the statistic to Twitter as a question with a link to your site to get the answer: “Guess how much waste we were able to divert from the landfill by using potatoes over plastic? http://potatoesrock/stats/2015.com”
With B, if your audience is interested, they’ll click on the link and be taken to your website where they will be introduced to your branding and have a chance to find out who you and your team are, how you came to work with potatoes and how they can support what you do. If the link is to a page that details the environmental impact of your product and there is an easy information flow on your site then you have a much better chance of converting that curious Twitter follower to brand supporter and customer.
Once your website groundwork is laid, you’re ready to move on to addressing the other foundational elements needed for social media success.
Social Media Foundation #2: Branding
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” ~ Jeff Bezos
Your brand is the packaging your company arrives in. It expresses the values and strengths that you want to be known for. It also encompasses the visuals that tell who you are– the sights, colors and images that embody your company. It’s important that you’ve gone through the process of creating your company logo and accompanying colors and text. It’s also essential that your website expresses your mission and additional information about how you’d like your brand to be presented and shared in the world.
- Have you gone through a branding process and is your brand clearly defined as you would like it marketed?
- Do you have easily accessible logos in various file formats?
- What other branded materials would you like to tie into your online presence? Color, fonts in graphics, specific imagery or characters?
Social Media Foundation #3: Graphics & Photography
Throughout the past year, every social network has increased the prominence of visual content on their platform. “Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.” ~Buffer Social
Evaluate your website and the imagery used there. Then, think about how your brand carries over to your social platforms and where the imagery used to convey your message will be sourced from. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What role will imagery play in social media for your company? Do you have a complex service that is difficult to capture? A visually rich product or process?
- Can you easily take photos using your camera or do you feel a professional photographer may be needed?
- Are you a graphic designer or do you have one on staff? A graphic designer is not the same as a photographer, of course, and a social media manager may not be a photographer or graphic designer either.
Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding imagery in social media strategy:
- Imagery used should maintain brand consistency.
- Shy away from heavy stock photography use. It’s inauthentic and waters down your brand.
- Remember: Not all photos need to be professional quality. Authenticity is key to social media success. You’ll balance professional imagery and graphics with authentic and simple photos taken via your phone and/or DSLR camera.
- Include graphic or photographic support in your marketing budget where needed.
Building on the Foundation
Now that the foundational needs of your strategy have been discussed, you can move into discussing your overall marketing calendar and how your social media calendar will work alongside it. Your engagement online via social platforms is a piece of your overall online marketing strategy. You should have an organized system to connect and share all of your marketing activities so you can use social media to amplify them. This allows the work you’re doing to integrate so that your online marketing is cohesive and effective.
Stay tuned for the next blog in our social media series that will cover what to expect from professional social media management.
Want to learn more about how to succeed with social media? Join an upcoming session of the JB Media Institute, online or in Asheville.