Every business owner, every marketer, every freelancer and every individual who is involved in the process of helping a business grow, is now focused on getting good results from social media. But as a matter of fact, they mostly fail and their respective management or investors ask to slash the budgets for social media! This happens very often and there are several reasons for the same. Let’s debate the reasons for failures in some other post, here in this post I am going to list 7 proven steps to succeed in social media marketing. If this will be followed right, this can bring amazing results for your business. I can bet on that 🙂
So, what do you feel could be the reason that a majority of people fail? Is it the problem of social media as a channel? or any platform that they chose? Or this problem is about the wrong approach people take towards social media? The answer being quite evident is yet ignored most of the times. The approach towards social is lazy and people still do not have faith to get ROI from social media for their business. And that is the reason they don’t succeed in social media marketing.
Here in this post, I am trying to give you the right approach towards social media or simply right steps that you need to follow to grow your business. These are proven steps to succeed in social media marketing that most of the brands and businesses who have succeeded with social media have followed. I am not giving you a marketing strategy, these are simple steps that will surely help you to better your existing strategies. These are not hacks or tricks that you have never heard of, you know most of these steps already but the question is to implement them in the right way and the religious way.
Before we proceed, I want you to take a pledge and have some guiding rules for your success. I am being a school teacher here, but no, you can’t get results if you don’t follow these rules. So here are your guiding rules, to be carved in front of your work desk if you want to succeed in social media marketing:
- Consider social media as the MOST IMPORTANT channel of communication for today’s world and forever.
- Think social first for whatever marketing activities you are conducting.
- Do your work religiously, never try to ditch anything.
- Don’t quit until you succeed.
- Hard work is the only key to success.
- The process is good but innovation is great, so keep innovating to get better results.
I am not making stories or trying to get in you into something which will not yield results. If you have struggled with social media, you need to be super serious. Because social media can actually be the most important channel to bring the maximum ROI for your business.
The reason for the previous few paragraphs is to bring the seriousness for social media which is very much needed for your success. So are you ready to begin with the proven steps to succeed in social media marketing? Let’s go to the solid 7 step method that will drive you amazing results from social media, try and practice it while reading:
(IMPORTANT: Do not forget to download the working template given at the end of this article, it will help you to practice what we are preaching!)
STEP 1. Set goals & align with tangible KPIs
You can’t win until you know your target. You need to decide what do you want to achieve and what will define your success on social media. List down your objectives and be reasonable with them. For each of these objectives write down the KPIs that will help you measure the success of each objective. All sounds theoretical? No problem, let’s do it with an example to understand it better.
e.g. I am going to consider one hypothetical example of a store which sells medical products for senior citizens (please note, we will carry the same example for all the following steps too):
- Create awareness about my shop in the city and amongst the right target audience
- Build a community of my fans online.
- I want to bring customers to my store or sell them stuff online.
- Create loyalty and spread word of mouth.
You also should understand what is the most important thing you want to achieve. It should not happen that you define some hypothetical objectives or completely irrelevant objectives. So even if you achieve something it will be useless for the business. Always think of benefiting your business first. The number of sales is always bigger than the number of likes or followers.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”People who think sales but with practicality and understanding of the constraints are the only smart people. @faizanization ” quote=” People who put sales as their top priority with practicality, keeping the pros and cons of the media in mind are the only smart people.” theme=”style4″]
People who talk about hypothetical sales are fraudsters or those MLM guys you should be aware of. People who never think of sales and their objectives are only to get name and fame or make a campaign viral with no clear direction are another set of people you should be aware of. If you are either of them, it is time to rethink your strategy!
Once you have clear objectives defined, you need to align them with tangible KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). If you can’t measure the results, you are going to lose money, my friend. So, let’s align these goals we mentioned above with some KPIs to measure the results:
You can use the template provided at the end of this post to create a similar table for your own business.
STEP 2. Identify your Target Audience & Create Personas
When you don’t know the goal post, you will surely hit the pole or the ball goes in the crowd and not to the one intended. You need to have your audience clearly defined. You may say, I have been listening to this or reading about it for a long time (and especially if you do not come from a marketing or UX background) it is difficult to actually define your audience. So let me make it easier for you all.
Understanding your target audience is the 101 for a business owner, I seriously can’t understand when business owners don’t know themselves who they should target or who are their target audience. You definitely can’t define your target audience for social media if you do not understand who is a customer already. Who are you already selling to.
Following few steps will help you identify or define your target audience:
A) Look at your current customer base:
This is basic, you need to keep a track of who is your customer, what region they come from, what ethnicity they belong to, what language they speak, what is the age group of the majority of your customers. etc. etc. etc.
B) Do online surveys to study your consumers more
Find out more about your customers or consumers, what do they like, dislike, what type of content they consume. Try and find out their biggest pain points and see if you are addressing the same or not.
C) Check your competitors
Try and find out who is buying from your competitors, and do the similar kind of study on your competitors’ customers. This would be a bit difficult but conducting surveys, offline or online will help you figure this out. If the competitor is a big fish in the pond, it is even easier, a little bit of internet research will help you identify the same.
D) Analyze your products & services
List down all your products and services & find out which target group fits to which product. Try and categorize your audience into major categories according to your business.
Consider the same example as discussed in the previous step: You sell medical products like wheelchairs, potty seat, diapers for senior citizens. You have analyzed your existing customers, your competitor customers and now you know who are the majority of people buying from you. So you create categories like below:
- Senior Citizens (living alone, will buy for themselves)
- Working professionals (always busy with work, will buy stuff for their parents)
- Old Age Homes
If you look at the above 4 categories, you would realize we can further categorize these 4 categories into to 2 i.e. B2C Customers & B2B Customers
B2C Customers -> Senior Citizens, Working Professionals
B2B Customers -> Old Age Homes, Hospitals
So if you notice, I have tried to reverse engineer the process. In a typical situation what you can simply do is, create a table like below:
Don’t worry, if you do not understand what would come under demographics and Psychographic, I will further simplify it by listing the details below:
Creating Target Personas, Listing down the pain points of each & writing how do you or your business help them:
Once you have all the above-mentioned activities done and your list of TG is ready with all the details. The next set of details you need to add is their pain points. Try and find out why this kind of people use your product or service. What was the reason somebody became your customer, what problem this category of people are facing and how your product or service solves that problem? If you can clearly identify this, trust me you will win the business even if you don’t do anything else, because you understand where it pains and you have the cream for the same.
Try and put each of your target audience in the following format as a persona with whom you would communicate through social media. This will help you create content and understand each of your audience in a better way.
I feel this is quite limited information for you to understand how to build the right target personas. But I believe this will set you in the right direction to find out stuff on your own. During this process of finding your TG & creating target personas, the best teams to keep in the loop are Sales & Support teams. They deal with customers or consumers on a daily basis, they have more insights to share about each of the target personas you will create.
If you have followed this post this far, thank you for that 🙂 Be with me, you will be able to up your game of social media at the end of this post. Now as you have seen the first two steps, please go to the end of this post and download the “Working Template”. Try to fill in with your objectives, your target audience and create personas for your business. Do not go to the next step if you have not done that already. If you have already done that, let’s move on to the next step.
STEP 3. Connect your Audience with the Right Social Media Channel
The last step went into a long discussion, however, it was very much needed. I skipped discussing B2B & B2C marketing. I am sure you would have already Googled about the same. Honestly, it is not a rocket science you can’t understand. But as I said, I will discuss the two, so let’s understand these two business models in a very simple way. Although it is all common sense I don’t want to lose any thread or leave any subject hanging.
B2C – In simple words, it is direct selling to individual customers or consumers. E.g. if you are a retail shop for kids’ toys. Your customers are direct parents or kids themselves, that means you are selling directly to the customers. And you fall under the B2C category.
B2B – In this case, your customers are not individual customers, you sell your products or services to businesses. E.g. you are a corporate lawyer and you provide your services to big IT firms. Then you are in a B2B business.
Now, the most common question that comes from a nowise is why the heck on this planet we need to understand this? I mean I can tell you who is my customer without even categorizing it. True that, but to sell to these two groups are two extremes totally. The way you approach B2C customers can’t approach the same way to B2B customers and vice versa.
It is easier to understand what channels are suitable for B2C advertising and what are good for B2B. However, it also depends on the category of the business and what type of clients the business wants to target.
Here is an example that will help you to map the right social media channels with each of your target audience. I am again considering the same example of the store that sells products for senior citizens.
The channels could vary based on the type of product or business. This could be a generic scenario, however.
Once we have this finalized, it is time to move for some actions. & get your hands dirty with the content creation.
STEP 4. Create Content Pillars & Align them with the right objectives
By now you know who is your target audience, which platforms they use and you must already be thinking of ideas to connect with your target audience. If this is not happening, trust me you are directly reading this part and have not followed the post entirely. As I mentioned earlier, you know most of these things, but the most important point is to follow it step by step and get actual results in numbers.
Let’s try and understand how to create engaging content. As Craig Davis said:
While creating a persona we have already figured out the pain points and few ideas of how we can connect with the persona we created in step 3. It becomes easier for you to connect with your audience when you hit directly on point by solving their problems. When you know what they need and you know the solution to their problem, that is the best thing to talk about on social media. We create content around the same and try to provide value to our Persona. I am assuming you have referred to step 3 in detail. For a revision, you can at least have a look at the persona image.
To simply the ongoing content creation process, we will first create content pillars. Considering the arguments of the first above two paragraphs, we need to understand we will be creating content that will enable the community to engage, be informed or get entertained and in return we share something for them to take an action. This action drives our business objectives. The core content pillars will focus on our products or our services whereas we will have something called content fillers that will be focused on engaging the community. The terms I am using are not official, these terms I use for my ease of work.
Try to understand this with the construction of the building. A building can stand only pillars, but you need walls, roofs, and other fillers to make it a complete building. Similarly, your content strategy needs content pillars which are the backbones of your business and would directly affect your business if you don’t have them. Whereas the fillers would help you make the construction complete and make your building look beautiful and attract people towards the same.
Next, you need to do is, to align all of your content pillars with the right objectives. Following will help you understand that.
Once we are done with the above-mentioned steps, we need to start creating content accordingly keeping all the previous steps in our consideration. In addition to that, we also need to understand the essence of each social media channel, you can’t simply copy something on Instagram what you have created for Twitter. You need to think creatively. As the 6th guiding rule says, we need to innovate with everything we do. Let’s focus to maximize on the content.
Before creating any piece of content, we should ask these questions to ourselves. Whether our content will be able to deliver any value or not. I am listing a few questions that can help you to find out whether your piece of content is to the mark or not. While creating any post or any content we should always ask these questions to ourselves:
- Is my content inspiring for the persona?
- Does this motivate my target audience?
- Are we being able to emotionally connect with our audience?
- Is this post adding any value to our audience lives?
- Is it entertaining and engaging?
- Does this make someone feel about him/her?
- Would I love to see it on my timeline?
- Will my audience be sharing it with others?
- Does this solve any legitimate problem of my audience?
- Will this post be able to excite my audience?
- Are we revealing some secrets that the audience would love?
- Is it informative to educate my audience?
If your post fits in at least three of the above-mentioned criteria, go ahead with it. Now, you may ask how do you create content? Which format? Everybody is talking about videos, videos, but I don’t have the skills or time to create videos. The only thing you need to understand at this point in time is you can’t avoid going without a post be it an image post or a video post. You need to create content whatsoever. And what we discussed by now will surely have widened your thinking about what content to create. What topic to discuss and how the language would be. Don’t chase perfection, if it is perfect it is late 🙂
Once you have your idea ready, just putting it up in the form of an artwork or video won’t be difficult. Based on the need of platform you should have your content ready. For Instagram, you can’t gain organic reach or followers if you are not super active. By super active I mean sharing 2-3 pieces of content per day. If you can’t do that at least have one post per day.
Prepare your posts well in advance:
You can’t get up every day and decide what to share or what to post. This should all be planned well in advance. For example, in August mid you should start thinking of September month’s entire social media posts. You need to put that in a calendar format and then share it with your designer or get designed by yourself. Once you have everything ready, simply schedule your posts using Hootsuite or any other platform that you are comfortable with.
The second major question while designing stuff by yourself would be which software to use. I would highly recommend you to use Canva.com as it is freely available. Plus it has 1000s of free design templates to make your life easier. Just try and fit your idea in one of your given posts. I am writing another post on Canva specifically, would share it with you asap.
For image sourcing, there are 100s of free and paid stock image platforms. Few of them are Shutterstock (paid), pixabay.com (free), Kaboompics (free). You can use these images and put them on Canva designs and make a great looking design in minutes.
Check out this link for your reference, you will find few cool designs that I have created on Canva literally in minutes and they have come out pretty well.
Once you have designed your posts, given them witty and connection captions, and scheduled on Hootsuite, the next thing you will have to do is to promote them.
Step 5. Promote your content with ads to reach people
Yes, you heard it right. There is no quick fix to it, there are no shortcuts to it, there are no hacks for it. You need to have adequate budgets to promote your content. The organic only strategy will soon die completely from most of the social media channels. You need to buy ads to reach out to the people and rest your content will do.
If you are aware of Facebook’s 2018’s biggest update of going zero with organic reach for business except for few which have some certain criteria. The following graph shows how the organic reach on Facebook has fallen.
So what you need to do and how?
You need to buy ads using Facebook ads manager or business manager for Facebook and Instagram. Pull out your personas and look at the content you want to promote for these personas. You should always keep a separate budget for ads, be it very less but you need to have an ongoing budget to get good results. The only organic strategy will not help you in the longer run to generate ROI.
The best practice is to divide your monthly budget into two parts:
- For promoted posts (or to boost your content)
- For the lead generation (to generate leads for offers)
You need to signup at Facebook’s ads platform, fill in your details and get the account ready. Adding payment information will be crucial to initiate the ads. Initially, your card will be charged on the go as and when to see if you are regular with your payments. Later you will be able to get a monthly threshold based on your previous spend.
Once you signup with Facebook’s ad platform you need to create campaigns with any of the objectives mentioned in the below image. Here we are talking about boost posts or promoted posts so we will select, Engagement as your objective. After selecting engagement you can go and create and engagement posts.
The next question will be asked to select your audience, you need to be precise with who do you want to target for this post. Later, you will be asked to select the post from the page. Following two screenshots will demonstrate the same.
Creating ads is not that difficult that you feel. You can learn it in simple steps and do wonders for your business. However, in this post I am not detailing out the process of running ads, I will soon write another post to demonstrate that. Do follow me on Instagram for instant updates: https://www.instagram.com/faizanization/
Step 6. Collaborate with Influencers
More done than said, Influencer marketing is a crucial element of the overall social media process. In fact, Influencer Marketing is the key element of overall marketing activities in today’s time. The good part is, you do not actually require a PR agency to handle Influencers. First be clear with your objectives, have a clear vision to be achieved. Identify the right Influencers exactly the same way you have segmented your audience. Try and identify influencers for each of your target group.
Let’s consider the same example of a senior citizen medical products shop. You need to identify influencers in your city, you create content around health and wellness, lifestyle or even family and values. Consider you have identified 3 Influencers who have 20k+ followers on Instagram and a similar number of followers across other channels too.
The first thing you need to do is to get your idea ready, before contacting any Influencer
So think of something valuable you can offer to the audience of the Influencers. Either a good piece of content, or an idea around that they can create something, or simply some gifts or vouchers that their audience would be interested in. Yes, I am not thinking of Influencers themselves, I am thinking of what their audience would be interested because we are interested in their audience.
I have written another post: Influencer Marketing – Everything you should know about. Please read this post for a better understanding of Influencer marketing. Out of all the proven steps to succeed in social media marketing, this one is really very crucial in today’s time. Read the entire post for better understanding.
Step 7. Measure & Repeat (final step to succeed in social media marketing)
This step has a self-explanatory importance. Like you can’t quantify your results unless you will measure the same. Everything is dependent on how good you are doing it. But measuring results is not just to feel good it helps you to prepare future. You need to observe or monitor or measure results to identify:
- Types of posts are working better for you.
- Category of the posts or pillars that are are getting more engagement
- The least performing posts.
- Time of post to get maximum engagement.
- The day that gets most of the engagements.
If you remember we had set some KPIs in our second step. Here is the time to measure the same and see if we are going in the right direction or not. Now there is a huge debate of when you should do this analysis or when you should do the measuring. Some people would say you should look a the insights every day. Few would say weekly or monthly. I prefer daily alerts however analysis should happen monthly. You can’t be a good judge by looking at the data for only a week.
Monthly reporting gives you the opportunity to plan for it in the best way. You can identify days and time to post and types of posts that work, look at the happenings and key moments of that month. And plan accordingly.
Following are a few tools that work great for reporting or analysis:
- Social Bakers
- Sprout Social
All these tools have their plus and minus benefits, and there are several 100 more tools that can help you to measure your social media efforts. All you need to do is to check what is the budget you can spend on this part, and how many accounts (social media channels) you want to monitor.
If you want to have posts scheduling, community management (responding to fan queries in general terms) and reporting, all in in the same dashboard, I feel Sprout Social is a great platform for that.
For only reporting or analysis purpose, Socialbakers is a great platform. Their builder sucks to date. I love Socialbakers’ reports, so I use it along with Hootsuite. Hootsuite helps me to schedule the posts and have community management with one dashboard. Socialbakers helps to analyze everything and create monthly/weekly reports.
For social media listening and sentiment analysis, Sysomos is a wonderful platform.
To conclude, I would try to put everything in simple words. You need to define clear objectives, align them with tangible KPIs, identify your target, create right personas, identify content pillars and map your audience with social media channels. Create content, promote it with adequate budgets, collaborate with creators and influencers, measure everything, optimize and repeat.
I would like to again emphasize that this is not a silver bullet to success. However, these are some proven steps to succeed in social media marketing that can be implemented for your business or brand. All you need to do is to be super creative with whatever you do. Something which is relevant today might not be the same tomorrow. We need to keep our eyes and ears open, keep looking at what’s trending in our industry and take actions accordingly.
If you have followed this post till this point, it shows you are super serious about getting results from social media. If you have followed it well and actually did all that has been asked to do. I am sure you are at another level of understanding with social media marketing. Please show some love, and share this with others too. And let me know if it helped you in comments below.
If you are in India or Dubai, hit me up on f [at]beyondbillboards.in (replace [at] with @). I conduct one of its kind social media marketing masterclasses. Where we start from the understanding of consumer journey to the actual content creation and setting up ad campaigns. The masterclass is specially designed keeping the needs of entrepreneurs and startups in mind, specifically solopreneurs who want to do stuff on their own. It is a practical oriented workshop that helps people to build the right mindset towards social media marketing and implement the correct strategy to achieve results.
Thank you for reading this far 🙂
Look forward to seeing you soon.
DOWNLOAD the working template by filling in the below form, this will be useful for you to follow this post.