We talk about defining your social media strategy all the time. Yes, because it’s that important. I’ve written up these 5 steps to help build your strategy for your small business or direct sales business. If you are in a direct sales business, you have the added challenge to define your personal brand within the context of your corporate brand. Meaning, your need to bring the corporate brand along with you, and then differentiate yourself from all the other consultants who sell the same product as you. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others, and think “wow – I should be doing what she’s doing.” But let’s step back and think about it for a minute… you need to define your own strategy – different from anyone elses. It can be done; here’s how.
1. SET YOUR GOALS:
Why are you using social media? The answer to this fundamental question is what will guide your entire social strategy. Here are some questions to help answer your “why.”
- Do your customers expect you to be online?
- Is a primary channel for you to generate leads and sales?
- Do you have an active community of fans?
- Do you have a product or service that is transferrable to quality images, photography, or videos?
- Do you provide instruction, tips, or training to your customers, fans, and followers?
- Do you offer promotions, incentives, specials, or challenges to your customers, fans, and followers?
- Do you actively participate in your local community?
Ideally, your goals are tied to improving the answer to these questions. For example, “I want to increase my followers and engagement by 25% on my Facebook fan page.” “I want to ‘get found’ on Google searches, in my local community.”
2. CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORMS:
There are hundreds and hundreds of different social networking applications. You do NOT need to be on all of them. In fact, depending on where your customers and community are, and what your product is, you don’t need to be on more than a few. Here are some questions to ask, to consider the best platforms for you:
- What platform(s) is/are my target audience using?
- How frequently do they access these platforms?
- Do I have the right content to share on the platforms my target audience is using most frequently?
- Do I have the time, skill, or resources to create the right content?
Content is less about individual posts, but more about curating collections of content that create a holistic voice of your brand. Think about the time you can reasonably commit to creating content for each of the platforms you’re choosing to be on. Thinking about platforms from the perspective of your target audience, will help reach them best. If you’re selling a visual consumer product, Pinterest or Instagram may best serve your market. If you’re selling a service or professional, business oriented product, LinkedIn may be a better choice. The platform strategies for content then are dramatically different.
3. DEFINE YOUR VOICE:
Your voice is the representation, the “personality” of your brand online, and is what will differentiate you from all the others selling the same or similar products or services. Are you quirky? Funny? Family-oriented? Tech savvy? Spiritual? Religious? Intelligent? Innovative? Flirty? Educational? This may align with your personal voice and personality, but doesn’t necessarily have to. Consider the values you want to associate with your brand, and how your want your ideal audience to think of you. Here are some questions to consider as you define your voice:
- What is you or your brand’s mission?
- What sets you apart from others in your brand, or your brand apart from competitors?
- What do you want your ideal audience to feel when they read your content?
- What are three personality traits you want your ideal client to associate with your brand?
- What type of imagery do you envision, when you see your brand in your mind’s eye?
4. DEVELOP YOUR CONTENT PLAN:
This is where you will spend the majority of your time, now and ongoing. Content is what will bring your audience, and keep them engaged. When they are engaged, it will spread organically to their friends and followers, and grow your own reach. An easy way to get started on your plan (by platform), is to define 4-5 broad categories that all content will fit into, related to your brand, and the voice you wish to cultivate (see #3). Your content plan should follow the three P’s: Purposeful (useful tips or information for your community), Personality (humor, and your own quirky awesome self), and Promotional (straight promotion of your business, product, or brand).
For example, let’s say you sell jewelry. You may decide that categories of content that reflect your voice include: Jewelry Designs (Promotional), Fashion Tips (Purposeful), Inspirational Customer Stories (Personality/Promotional), “Behind the Scenes” in my Home Office (Personality), and Educational Tips on being a Direct Sales Consultant (Purposeful).
As you consider content categories, think about these questions:
- Do these categories align with the products I sell?
- Does this content benefit my ideal client?
- Is the topic broad enough to consistently generate new and ongoing content?
- Do I have the right mix of purposeful, personality, and promotional categories?
5. TRACK AND ANALYZE YOUR RESULTS:
As you start posting content on your defined platforms, you now will want to watch. See if your target audience engages. See what they engage most on. Is there a best performing content category? A best or worst time of day to post? And then you can refine. Each of the major social media platforms offers analytics and tools to track your performance.
Your social media plan should be a living and dynamic strategy. Audiences evolve. New applications hit the market. And as small business owners, our job is to be ready to be nimble, and adjust to where the technology goes.