How to get the most out of your social media efforts

Social media goals iconAnywhere you go, any trip you take always starts out with an end in mind. You don’t board a plane or get into your car without knowing your destination. The same is true of social media marketing.

Knowing what you are trying to achieve will ensure you reach your goal. Not knowing what you are trying to achieve will get you everywhere and nowhere. Commonly called the “scatter-gun approach”, this will pretty much guarantee your failure in this new marketing arena.

When thinking about how social media marketing could be used in your business, begin with the end in mind. What are you trying to achieve? What are your objectives?

Here are some to consider:

Expanding your reach: Every business wants more customers and to get more customers, people need to know about you. So reaching a wider audience of potential customers who do not yet know about you may be one of your goals.

Brand building: Becoming the brand of choice in your market is an objective of many larger companies. Effectively, you are selling your brand or company name rather than specific products when you focus on this.

Engaging readers: You might have lots of really useful information to pass on to customers, because it will help them in their businesses. You want to make this enjoyable or entertaining. This type of content may be your own or it may be someone else’s, like a YouTube video for instance.

Attracting industry heavyweights: In order to become known as the go-to person in your field, you might want to connect with other, well-known experts. Your goal here may be to become online friends with them, to become part of their networks, or simply to have their tacit endorsement by their link to your site. To achieve this, you need content that is unique and that they will either learn from or get something out of.

Turning casual customers into raving fans: Every business is keen to increase the loyalty of their customers, but we all know how hard it is to do. Using social media to spread the word about special deals or rates, upcoming events or sales, is a great way to achieve this. Especially if this information can’t be found anywhere else.

Event promotion: If you are holding any kind of event, social media is the place to advertise it. The viral nature of the medium means your event could be publicised in places you don’t even know about. And, if it’s something quirky, or something that captures the imagination, you might find yourself with not only many more visitors to your page, but many more potential clients at your event.

Customer service: Today, if a client has a gripe of any kind it is much more likely to be aired on a social media site than directly to your company. Which means other people often read about it before you do. But the upside is that you can engage the complainer in online conversation, show a willingness to resolve it, and sort the problem out. In fact, this is very positive because it shows you’re not just a faceless corporate that doesn’t care about its customers; that you do take your customers seriously and care about them. This is the epitome of turning a problem into an opportunity.

Generating sales: you’ll notice this is the last item on the list rather than the first. That’s because social media marketing is so much more than just selling stuff online. And businesses are more than about sales. They’re about the customer experience, about helping people achieve their goals, and possibly even about having fun along the way.

Never forget that social media is a two-way conversation. It’s not top-down like traditional marketing, it is driven by your customers and what they have to say about you. This can be very scary for some people, but today people expect to be heard. When they’ve got a problem that remains unresolved they don’t just tell 20 friends and colleagues, they tell the world (See this YouTube video as an example of what I mean). And this gives you infinite opportunities to interact with them in a positive way.

I’ve listed eight objectives or goals for your social marketing efforts. Work out which of these is the most important to you before setting out and your efforts will be richly rewarded.