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We’re all know that social media is a necessity in today’s marketing mix. Although not usually a direct sales tool, social media is essential to increase your brand awareness, SEO, word of mouth, loyalty and referrals – all of which are essential for the growth and sustainability of your business, particularly in this increasingly competitive landscape.

 

In order to achieve these desired results however, social media marketing needs to be approached strategically. Creating accounts and haphazardly posting beautiful pictures may get you plenty of likes for each post, but will do very little for you in the long-term, no matter how creative the pictures are.

So before you pull your strategy together, what do you need to know about using social media for business?

1. It’s going to cost you!

Often considered free marketing, the amount of time that needs to be invested in an effective social media strategy is massively underestimated. A lot of people still see social media posting as an ‘add-on’ action that can be carried out by an intern or junior member of staff, on top of their regular workload.

In reality, whilst it is a cost effective way of reaching an audience in comparison to advertising, unfortunately it is by no means free. In order to really social media activity, you do need to invest time and effort – online and offline.

2. You need strong foundations

Don’t even think about posting on social media accounts until you have your ducks in a row. Are you clear about your brand identity, values, unique selling points, and key messages? Are these all accurately and effectively reflected on your website?

How effective, attractive and functional is your website? It is effectively your storefront, and should be the hub for all the marketing that you do. Company websites are still generally the first destination for people who hear the ‘buzz’ you’re building, and want to verify what they’ve heard. It’s also a fantastic tool to develop your marketing strategy in the future, allowing you to track visitor activity and harvest essential data about the efficacy of your current marketing. It needs to be engaging, full of interesting, valuable and varied content, and easy to navigate.

Once you are happy with your website, it can be linked to and used a destination for the (hopefully growing number of) people you engage on social media. Don’t start your social media marketing activity until this foundation is strong!

3. There’s more to your audience than their demographics

Do you really know your audience, or have you made generalisations based on basic demographics, hearsay and assumptions? Have you actually reached out and spoken to a sample of your audience online and offline? You may not have the budget for a full-scale brand audit or feasibility study, but hopefully you do have existing offline networks, so reach out and ask those all-important questions!

Think about creating focus groups so that you can hear directly from the horse’s mouth. Ask the right questions to establish your audience’s psychographics and lifestyle preferences/interests, as well as their challenges, concerns and motivations in order to help you develop your content strategy. Find out what and who will influence them the most – which channels they engage with, how often, when and how.

These basic fundamentals are the starting point for any social media marketing. There is no quick fix unfortunately – in order to be effective, these strategies take time and effort in terms of research, data, activation, review, analysis and evolution. There’s no standard cookie-cutter approach that can be applied, however if you have something interesting to say, and deliver your message in the right way, to the right people, at the right time, then you will get results – you just need to invest a the time and effort to get it started and maintain that momentum.

If you’d like some more tips and advice on social media marketing with limited time and budget, we’re running a practical workshop - Social Media 101 - in Dubai on Monday 29th July from 9am-12pm. If you’d like to know more, please email Samantha Dancy: sam@footstepcommunications.com or see further details here.

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