Whether you’re a bricks and mortar mom and pop business or a 100% online digital enterprise, NOT participating in social media is no longer an option. In many ways today’s social networks represent the new discovery engine. Consumers and business decision makers are sending their friends and colleagues to websites they like through their browsers and desktops and, increasingly, their mobile devices.
According to eMarketer, more than 1.4 billion people worldwide will use social networks in 2012. Although the global audience is massive, it is by no means unified, they caution. It’s clear that companies of all sizes need to embrace a social media strategy because what our connections are doing online will drive your customers’ behavior more and more. What still appears murky for many, however, is exactly where to start.
Begin With Social Media Monitoring
I recommend casting your net wide, beginning with social media monitoring. Why? Because basic business intelligence will provide a framework and may also reveal gaps in your competitor’s digital footprint – knowledge you can take advantage of. For example, Google+ is still an underutilized platform for many companies, even with 343 million users. If your competitor isn’t using a specific top-tier social media platform, your business can become an influencer with little effort.
The Core of Your Social Media Strategy: Goals Measurement
Just as every website serves a purpose, so too should your social media strategy. A social media presence without a business objective is like having a website without a Contact page. Business goals involving social media will vary depending on your unique product or service; just be sure to identify them. For example, one objective of social media might be to support sales by answering questions or publishing how-to videos. Another may be to augment customer service.
By establishing specific goals, you can measure results and calibrate your efforts accordingly. The one thing I’ve learned about social media is that it’s a fast-moving ecosystem. If you know what you want to achieve, and you aren’t hitting your numbers, you can always optimize tactics for better performance. Or, if your metrics are anemic, this may be the signal to refine your strategy.
Google recently made it even easier to measure referring traffic with their new Social reports. Since they scour the web looking for new content via links, it was only a matter of time before they released this layer of data. By providing a holistic social media report through your existing Google Analytics account, it will be much easier to replicate success when you know which pages, posts or social links are garnering the most engagement.
Integrate with Search
As Lee likes to say, “SEO is the peanut butter, social media is the jelly and content holds it all together”. The dynamic between social media content and shared links with visibility on search engines is undeniable. When planning out social media content, make sure you tap into keyword glossaries researched by the SEO team or agency. Creating keyword optimized content that is prone to be shared will extend the reach of your social media messaging and attract even more participants to your networks on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Social Goes Mobile
Lastly, no social media strategy would be complete without discussing mobile. It can be argued that the rise in smartphone technology correlates directly to the explosion of social media usage. Keeping pace are technology platforms that can track conversions from social media and email to real-world foot traffic.
Whether you’re a local business who wants to tie Facebook “likes” to in-store purchases with performance monitoring from startup Circl or a cross-channel marketer wanting a 360 degree view of your customer using an enterprise-level solution, like Strongview (formerly StrongMail), gaining insights into customer behavior has never been easier. (Disclosure: Strongview is a client of TopRank Online Marketing.)
Your goal as business owner or marketing department then becomes creating the right offer tailored to the right person at exactly the moment they’re ready to buy, elevating the term “digital handshake” to a whole new level!