Mind your own social media business!

Deltina Hay

Are you as frustrated as I am with the ongoing trend of overgeneralized social media marketing advice?

Advice like:

  • “If you aren't doing so-and-so you aren't doing social media right.”
  • “Do this-one-thing to succeed in social media.”
  • “Top [insert number here] social media tools you must be using.”
  • “Social media is dead, long live social media marketing!”

Admittedly, I can get sucked into reading those articles just as easily as the next guy. I can also start freaking out, thinking I am doing it all wrong and should just stop marketing altogether.

Then I do a reality check by asking myself: Does this social media “advice” really apply to my business, my goals, or my target audience?

Social media marketing may be out of its infancy; but it is still learning to walk. Luckily, the tools have been in use long enough for marketers to get a general feel for what works.

And there are social media strategists who know what they are talking about.Typically, these strategists cite reputable research and case studies and focus on optimization, consistency, relevancy, and digital ethics.

But as far as a one-size-fits-all social media marketing strategy, I don't believe there is one. You know your business and your target market better than anyone, so trust your instincts when considering advice regarding any aspect of your business – including social media marketing.

If you are just beginning to market your business, look to reputable sources within yourindustry for relevant strategies. And don't get sucked into thinking that social media is all you need. Social media should be an integral part of your overall marketing plan, not all of it.

Following are some additional tips to help you plan a social media strategy relevant to your marketing needs.

Learn about your target market.

Another one of my peeves is when “strategists” insist that you must have a presence on all the hottest new social media sites. But if your audience isn't there, why should you be?

If you have been in business a while, you know who your target audience is. If you are just starting out, do the necessary research.

Once you know who your target audience is, find out which social media tools they use. In addition to the social media sites themselves, there are a number of good resources that can help you find out where your audience spends their time, including my favorite:Quantcast.

And, here is a list I recently featured on my Social Media Power blog that doesn't give specific demographics, but lists how many people are using 416 different social media sites.

Check on your competitors.

Which social media tools seem to work best for them? What tactics do they use within each tool? Do they blog often, or at all?

Get a good feel for the social media tactics that are working for your direct competitors and emulate. But make sure you have the resources to maintain any tactic you want to add to your strategy

Your target-market research may even reveal social media tools your competitors haven't discovered yet. Thus leaving the tools wide open for you to jump in!

Know your goals.

Yet another peeve of mine are blanket statements like:

  • “Your social media efforts are worthless unless you get x-number of [likes, shares, retweets, insert whatever here].”
  • “If your engagement rate is below x-point-y your social media plan is failing.”

The problem with these types of statements is that they don't take your actual goals into account.

What are your goals? Do you know what your end-result expectations are from your social media efforts? If not, then you can easily be fooled by such blanket statements.

Say one of your goals is to make more sales. And say that your followers tend to click through on your links and buy without ever engaging or sharing. Sure, it would be nice if they did share, but the fact that they don't doesn't mean you aren't achieving your goals

Know your goals, and have baselines and tools in place to measure whether you are meeting them.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Just like the social media landscape, your social media strategy should be in a constant state of flux.

Regularly revisit and reevaluate your social media marketing efforts:

  • Are they reaching your target market?
  • Are they achieving your goals?
  • Which tactics are working the best?
  • Which tactics or tools should be dumped?
  • Are there any new tools worth investigating?

Question everything!

Finally, scrutinize those social media articles and posts that suck you in with their clever titles. Ask of any recommended social media tactic: Is it relevant to my business? Does it help me achieve my current goals? Does it apply to my target audience?

Asking such questions allows you to take what you need and leave the rest – freeing you up to spend more time on what works for you.

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