Social Media Optimization is using social media to increase brand awareness.
And the ultimate goal, as with all marketing, is to increase new customers and new sales.
The trick with social media, even for large, established brands, is thinking that to optimize social media you have to do a full on blitzkrieg with all the different social media channels, buttons and everything else.
The problem with taking the complete spread strategy with social media is that businesses spread themselves too thin. It’s like if you focus on too many different target customers with a million features and services. When you try to be everything to everyone you’ll be nothing for everyone.
When you try to do everything in social media you wind up accomplishing very little.
So in this post we’re going to provide a social media optimization strategy that won’t wear you thin, but that will increase your brand awareness as well as, over time, increasing new customers and new sales.
Step 1. Identify Your Target Customer
This is kind of Business 101. It’s boring to start off your social media efforts with your target customer, but it’s important.
The tricky thing, especially if you’re a new business, is that you’re going off research for a target customer. It’s good to try to identify a customer segment with a need, but once you get into actually doing business the target customer will probably change.
And that will happen with social media too. The trick with social media will be to pay attention to your followers and those interacting with your posts. You’ll want to see if those people are potential customers or people that have an audience of your potential customers.
If they are then you’re doing the right things with your content. If it’s not quite right it either means you need to tweak your content or that maybe your target customer is slightly different than you thought.
Step 2. Find Your Target Customer On Social Media
My trick for this is to look at your competition. Check out their social profiles. See where they’re having the most success with engagement.
It’s not 100% fool-proof. It could be that the companies are spending more of their time on one particular channel so it’s their preference and not necessarily their customers’ preference.
But you should get a good idea of where your customers prefer to spend their time on social media.
Step 3. Choose ONE Social Media Channel
This takes will power especially when you hear a lot of social media experts telling you to have strategies for all the social channels. I agree that it would be nice, but it’s hardly possibly for a large company with a full-time social media manager to handle one social media channel effectively.
Small businesses have no chance.
So find the channel with the most promise (look at competition, future of the channel, etc.) and have the discipline to stick with just one.
Step 4. Research Important Topics And Content
Once you choose your channel go back to your competition and other people and brands on that channel. Look at the content that is getting the most engagement from their audience (which is also your target audience).
This will clue you in on the type of content you need to be sharing, creating, etc.
The trick is to find about 3-5 topics your audience seems to care about the most. Then you’ll want to look for things that haven’t been covered on those topics.
Or look for ways to create better content that would be a better resource for your audience.
That might be seeing a popular blog post and creating an entire guide.
Or maybe there is a cumbersome guide and you can create an image that would be a better resource for the audience.
Step 5. Curate Content
The name of the game, especially early on, is to share content. People won’t come to your social channel or follow you if they have no reason to follow you. The reason to follow is that you’re sharing content that is interesting, entertaining or helpful.
The first step to doing that is to share content that others have created. You could look at your competitors and see what content has been the most popular from the resources they’re using. You can share that as well.
But my favorites for finding content to curate are big time news publications, official sites that share studies and official blogs that share studies and guides.
Step 6. Create Content
The next step is to create your content. And this is really the best strategy for attracting new customers and sales to your business. You can create content for social media, but then you’re not the owner of the content.
You want to create content for your own website. Then share pieces of that content on social media.
Say you create a guide with 20,000 words. That can make up thousands of tweets and shares on Facebook and other social media channels.
Step 7. Include 1-3 Hashtags
One way, a really good way, to get more engagement on social media is to use hashtags. I think they started with Twitter, but now I think just about all the social channels have them.
You don’t want to overdo it with hashtags, but your audience does follow a few hashtags; at least more of them than you might think.
Step 8. Form Social Media Partnerships
Another way to get more engagement is to go where your audience is and that is with the people and brands that already have followers. To form partnerships you’ll have to offer to do something.
For example, say someone is an expert in your market. You could offer to co-create an industry guide with them. But you do most of the work on the outline and the actual guide. Then you promote it together.
You get exposure to their audience and they get co-credit for the content.
Step 9. You Often Need More (At Least Starting Out)
More content is not always good, but when you’re starting out you’ll likely need a lot of content. People will want to see that you’re providing great info.
Over time, as you get more followers, you can cut back on the content you share, but in the early days it’s better to error on the side of sharing too much than sharing too little.
Step 10. It’s A Long-Term Commitment
Social media success and engagement won’t come instantly (unless you’re a celebrity with other sources of exposure). Settle in and stick with the plan you create from the steps above.
It’s something you need to do every day and you’ll have to put in time…like years.
If that’s not for you then social media probably isn’t the best way to spend your time. But if you can get in that mindset you could look back 3-5 years down the road and see the real progress and the results of new customers and new sales.
Social Media Optimization is about setting yourself up for the best chance of success. The strategies and steps outlined above will put you in a position to succeed. The biggest lesson is to not spread yourself too thin across all the social channels out there.
One last thing I would throw in would be that you can get your handles for all the social channels, but once you determine the one channel that’s important you can put something like, “We’re not active on Twitter, but check us out on Facebook.”