Do a quick Google search, and you're sure to find a thousand different voices giving conflicting advice on how to most efficiently run your social media campaign. While these tips are constructive, often they are geared towards corporations who are able to invest a significant amount of time and money into generating a viral presence on the web. If that describes you, I applaud your resources and the reach you are able to have. However, if you are like most small to mid-level companies, you probably struggle on a daily basis to generate any traction at all. Buffeted between a sea of responsibilities and deadlines, social media is often the most important thing that gets consistently ignored.
This doesn't have to be the case though. Even with your restricted time, you still have to tools and capability to be a boss in the social media game.
At a previous job where I was responsible as marketing manager for an overwhelming amount of projects in a wide range of topics, I was constantly only able to carve out a couple hours a week to manage our social media campaign, which encompassed 4 distinct brands with their own vision, focus and metrics. Not only was I managing 4 distinct brands, but I was also posting multiple times a day for each brand on the 3 major social media platforms, often not duplicating material between the platforms. During this time the corporation enjoyed increased awareness and brand identity, as well as a healthy engagement growth across the board. All of this with only 2 hours a week.
You may look at this and already be dismayed at how unattainable this seams. Let me encourage you, it is FAR easier than you think to generate good content and raise engagement, and with a little time and effort you CAN emulate our success with your own company.
Know your brand
The first, and most crucial step is knowing your brand. If you are expecting to write and build your brand out on social media, you have to know it inside and out. Where does your brand thrive? What are its challenges? What are the core messages you are trying to communicate? What do people see when they encounter your brand, and what do you WANT them to see?
Though certainly not a comprehensive list of information you need to know, until you understand your company and its vision inside and out you will be unable to effectively represent it and draw others into your sphere of influence. Take some time, learn and memorize everything you could possibly need to know, until talking about the company's mission and values becomes second nature to you.
Know your target audience
The second most important step you need to take prior to launching an effective social media strategy is understanding who your customers are and what they are looking for. Often this means researching the core industries your brand is focused on and creating customer personas. Well crafted and researched customer personas are amazing, and absolutely essential in crafting the right message.
For example, if your brand targets corporations where the decision makers are in their late 50's, the messaging you create needs to be on-point to reach those people. Hip slang and technical jargon will not resonate with high level corporate CEOs. Conversely, if you are targeting new moms in their late 20's, you need to make sure that your message reflects the needs and culture of your audience.
A good customer persona will look at your target audience, identifying their core drives, focus and motivation so you can properly craft your message to reach them most effectively.
Planning is your friend
Now that you know your brand and target audience, the next step is to create a content plan. For companies who can't devote a large amount of time to social media, I encourage to you draft out a sample month of posts. To start, simply make a list of the important things you need to communicate to customers, and how often they need to be communicated. During this phase I also like to group things into categories so I can easily see a high level view of what is being communicated.
For example, if it's important to frequently highlight events at your company, as well as blogs, company highlights and industry news, I might group these together and create a plan where each Tuesday a new blog is posted, while new events are posted every Wednesday and Friday, with company highlights posted on Thursday. Planning content out helps to make an insurmountable task seem less daunting. It also helps to create an easy to emulate template that you can follow week after week with minimal effort. For those corporations who are able to invest hundreds of hours a week on marketing campaigns, this may seem a bit restrictive and pedestrian. However, for those of us who have limited time to invest every week, this is the process that will enable you to consistently increase your engagement.
Once you have your overarching plan, next create a template of frequency, voice and platform for each type of post. For instance, you might decide that every blog post should first be posted onto Facebook and LinkedIn, with followup posts over the next week on twitter, with a final repost on all platforms 3 weeks after the initial post. Based on your customer personas, you might decide that the posts to Facebook should be more informative, while tweets are one sentence hooks trying to bait your audience to read more and messages on LinkedIn simply serve to raise brand awareness.
There are best-practices for how much to post on each platform and when; instead of covering this in detail in this blog I would encourage you to read some of the amazing content, templates and statistics that the marketers at Coschedule have compiled.
Bringing it all together
Whereas before there was no plan, and sheer thought of trying to find time every week to write posts seemed daunting, now with your brand awareness, customer personas and marketing plans, you are ready to begin successfully managing your social media presence. Make sure to evaluate the process on a regular basis, and decide what is or isn't working. Revise, rework, and reevaluate. Though it may take some time to start gaining traction, over time you will find that your engagement and brand awareness are steadily rising.
Even though you may not have time to create an earth-shattering marketing plan, with a little up-front time and planning you can still create an effective strategy that launches your business into new seasons of success.