Does your social media marketing leave you feeling like you can barely keep up? Do you feel overwhelmed by every new platform and tactic, every new app update and image filter? Don’t worry, you are not alone.
Entrepreneur or not, we’re all grappling with information overload, and social media is a huge culprit.
Consider all the decisions you face when using social media marketing to build your business. You can work on paid traffic, posting content, promoting content on social media, creating content, setting up incentives for people to sign up to your email list, creating landing pages, creating funnels for your products or services, creating funnels for your webinars, creating visuals, creating videos, hosting a podcast, engaging with others in online communities, and the list goes on.
You could easily hire a full-time staffer to oversee all this, but for a new startup, that’s hardly a sensible option. That means you need to prioritize. So where do you start when it comes to using social media marketing tactics effectively?
In other words, what do you need to focus on first, second, and so on?
Now sure, the popular advice is to have all the above and more in place. And perhaps one day you will.
But for now, right now? All those tactics seem like Mount Everest, and you are without a sherpa to guide you to the summit. You don’t even know where to start.
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There is hope, however, and after reading this article, you will know, at the very least, where to begin. Consider this social media base camp.
And once you’ve worked through the following actionable process, social media marketing will look less like Mount Everest, and more like a series of hills you can stroll across.
I’ll explain why it’s so important to focus on one big social media goal, and why that goal varies for every organization depending on their business priorities. We’ll also look at how a minimum viable approach can solve issues of focus and viability in your social media outreach. I’ll also provide a simple framework whereby you can evaluate what social media tactics are worth implementing based on priorities and resources available.
Ready? Let’s hit the trail.
Step 1: Focus on Your Most Urgent Business Goal
The first thing to understand is that social media marketing does not have a one-size-fits-all strategy. Why? Because of a few challenges we face:
- There are dozens of social media platforms. Some you may have never heard of, with very specific demographics.
- There are many different ways to use them for your business.
- Your business may have a wide variety of products and services. Each of them could need different, tailored marketing strategies.
Because of these challenges and varying approaches, you need to define your most urgent business goal so you know where to start and how to define which approach is right for you. It also depends on the resources you have at hand. By resources, I mean the people, the tools, and the time you have within reach.
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If you instead spread your resources across a bunch of different business goals, you likely will take longer to achieve any single business benefit. That approach may also take longer and suck up more resources before you find out that the path you are on isn’t viable.
However, if you concentrate your resources on achieving that most urgent goal, you will know much sooner if it is viable. This, in turn, will put you in a better position to build out your social media strategy beyond that primary focus.
If you’re not 100% clear on what that focus is, let’s first examine what your business goals might look like before turning to a process to help you discover your most urgent one.
Examples of business goals would be:
- Reduce overall customer acquisition costs by 10% before July 2018
- Increase market share by 5% before August 2018
- Increase revenues by 20% before Sept 2018
I will acquire five new clients for my coaching business within two months by launching a social media marketing campaign, asking existing customers for referrals and networking with local non-competing businesses. This will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue.
To help find your most urgent business goal, answer the questions below:
Purpose. What is the purpose of the business? How is the purpose best pursued?
Priorities. Given the purpose and the vision for the business, what matters most to the business now and in the future? Rank your priorities and associated projects according to beneficial impact and necessity.
Goals. Based on the answers to the above two points, which projects are likely to have the most strategic impact and should be supplied with resources available? Which projects should be stopped or scrapped?
Performance. What are the metrics that will measure the performance of your social media goals?
By answering the questions above, you can sort through your priorities to discover your most urgent business goal. If you want to boil all this down into one sentence, it would be this: What are you really trying to accomplish, and what will get the most bang for your buck in getting there?
How do you focus on your most urgent business goal?
The challenge for most people lies in determining what will best accomplish the urgent business goal quickly and then removing distractions that take away from this.
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Let’s say, for example, you were starting from scratch on a new business venture. You would start by asking yourself, “What social media platforms will help accomplish my business goal the fastest?”
You would select only the platform or platforms that most match your needs to achieve your goal. Here are some of the most popular social media platforms to choose from (feel free to jump ahead if you’re on top of these):
LinkedIn – LinkedIn provides exposure to those hunting for products or services, gets you introductions, allows you to connect and engage with others who could potentially be added to your personal network
Twitter – Depending on your business needs, this platform can be used for communicating with your followers and prospects, showing your brand personality, researching trends, seeking feedback, and providing customer service.
Facebook – This is a platform with a large number of users, making it an attractive option for many businesses. A Facebook page shares basic information on your business. The platform allows you to share pictures and videos from your business, talk to existing and potential customers, provide customer support, raise brand awareness and positive word of mouth via the “Like” button. The platform can also help steer traffic to your website and provide targeted advertising to potential customers.
Instagram – The rise of visual content is most apparent on Instagram. The platform allows you to connect with customers across multiple channels, re-use visuals/marketing materials, attract engaged traffic and build a community, allows you to boost your marketing with user-generated content and lets you know how content will perform ahead of time.
To make the most of your resources and focus on your business goal, you need to find a focus for each social media profile your business owns or might own. In other words, you’re defining what you want to get from each platform, and connecting it to that main goal.
To do this you can create a mission statement for each social media profile you wish to use. See, each social media platform is better at certain aspects whether it is visuals, in the case of Pinterest and Instagram, or the network’s well-defined audience, as in the case of LinkedIn. Your focus should, therefore, tie the purpose of the platform to the business goal. This is where a mission statement comes in.
Your mission statement includes the description of each social media profile’s purpose, and how this purpose contributes to your business goals. You can use a statement like the one below to help put it together.
Your social media focus = We will use (social media platform) for (purpose of this social media platform) to achieve (business goal).
So for example, your social media focus = We will use LinkedIn to connect with influencers in the personal finance space to build our audience reach and engagement.
This is will help provide a framework or a filter for all social media tactics you engage in. It’ll help ensure you are on the right track towards achieving your business goal and will also ensure that you choose the right platform. For now, ignore any social platform that will not help you achieve your most urgent business goal.
Tip – Use the mission statement to check on progress towards your goal or when you conduct a social media audit. That way you can determine if progress and performance on each social media profile fits the mission statement. If it doesn’t you can re-evaluate and tweak the statement or your social media efforts as needed.
The key here is, once you have your leading business goal and how you expect certain social media profiles to serve it—don’t get distracted. If you see a cool new tactic on a blog and start to buy some new SaaS or assign a team member to set it up, STOP. If it doesn’t fit into your mission statements, your filters, ignore it for now.
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In entrepreneurship, we call this “shiny object syndrome.” We entrepreneurs are constantly bombarded with new ideas, tools, strategies. Don’t chase them around. Jumping from idea to idea will never allow you to let your current strategy play out. And then you’ll never learn what was the right or wrong approach.
Step 2: Develop an approach to achieve your business goal
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Next, you want to think through all the factors that you need to have in place to get you closer to your business goal. There could be quite a few steps involved.
This is why developing an approach to achieve your goal is critical. It can help get your idea implemented in its most basic form. This approach, when tested in the market, should allow you to gather feedback.
Your approach will determine your social media to-do list. It’ll also help prevent you from chasing after every new idea you come across.
So for example, if you are in the business world, there is a good chance that your goal is to drive profit. If you work for a charitable organization, it would be to drive donations. Or create a movement towards some community action.
Once you know your focus, you can list out a few tactics that you can implement like:
- Engaging with influencers who have the attention of your target market
- Sharing content from those influencers
- Sharing videos and images related to your business
Some can have a measurable impact on your business goal right off the bat. But most are investments that will need to be considered instead for the long term. That’s because, for certain tactics to provide any measurable benefit, you need to have certain elements in place.
Take, for example, sending paid Facebook traffic to a site that has little or no content for your audience to consume. This would be a mistake. In this instance, using paid traffic will only have a benefit if you’re already putting out content on your site.
Starting a group on Facebook at this point is a waste. That is unless you have enough engagement, interest, and an audience on your social media channels to get a community going.
Using Facebook ads to drive traffic to your site isn’t going to pay much by way of dividends either, unless you can leverage your existing audience and customer list. That way you can be sure you’re targeting the right audience.
So the first things you should think about when you come across a new social media tactic are:
Will it help in delivering on your business goal? (Got that part down yet?)
Where does it need to fit in the scheme of things for it to work?
What needs to done before and after for this tactic to pay the dividends you seek?
Think about your customer’s journey. What are the touch points as they get to know, like, and trust you over time? Jay Shemenski shares this social media metrics map to help with the process.
A customer journey on social media might look something like this:
- A prospect sees a comment you made on a post and clicks through to your social media profile page.
- On the page, they see your business page and click through to that.
- They read through some of your posts, which look interesting to them.
- They see your call to action to register for a downloadable resource or email series.
- Once they register, they get a series of autoresponder emails about the topic.
- One of those emails includes a special bonus if they sign up for a popular product with a code you provide.
- Those who buy then get invited to a special Facebook group where they can join in on a specific topic.
There are a number of ways in which this journey can be implemented. But to get this off the ground, a minimum viable product approach is best. You may know this concept from the lean startup methodology, but it’s also a good principle to embrace when setting up a social media strategy. It helps you test viability early on, and as you get feedback it can be improved upon. That’s next.
Step 3: Develop a 3-phase approach to test viability
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The objective here is to get your social media to approach out of your head and moving toward implementation. To do this, it’s best to break the approach down into phases to ensure it is viable before you invest further resources into it.
Let’s say we needed to launch into a new market and the business goal is to increase promotions and conversions on social media. The approach could be broken down into three phases like this:
- Test viability of an offer with the audiences of influencers that share your target audience.
- If viable, then build out the offer and engagement with prospects to increase conversions.
- Build out your promotion campaign and offer to get more conversions.
Let’s look at these three phases in more detail.
Phase 1: Minimum Viable Product
The minimum viable product (MVP) approach is a term popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries out of the lean startup methodology. Essentially, it refers to an approach wherein a product is built with just enough features to gather critical insights to inform decisions about its continued development.
This approach was created for startups to minimize their risk of failure. However, it can also be used in other business areas, including marketing and social media, as I will explain in a bit.
First, it is important to know that generally speaking, it is not a good idea to build a complete social media marketing approach straight off the bat and set it loose into the world to see what happens.
Why is it not a good idea?
Because you have no data on whether this is what your customers want. In other words, it can be a very complex way of finding out whether it will work. Also, technology can be expensive and it doesn’t always work the way you’d like. Most importantly, it can be a very expensive way to find out that something will not work.
The MVP approach takes a different path.
You can test your idea with a small scale version before you build out the real thing. You can deliver real value to potential customers using a cheaper and easier version of what you have planned. It gets you to focus on gathering feedback and data, not on earning millions.
Quite simply, this is a much better way to build your social media marketing approach. Confirm your hypothesis. Then move forward to the next step. You’ll have confidence in making the investments required.
Minimum viable products can come in various forms and can be as simple and as fast to put together as:
- A couple of audio recordings of interviews
- Access to a Q&A weekly meeting
- A downloadable checklist or worksheet
- Personalized coaching sessions
Your buyers will provide the feedback you need. Based on that, you can decide whether it would be worth your while to create the solution.
So how do you get your minimum viable approach underway? This is best answered by thinking, “What’s the shortest route to go from ‘idea’ to ‘live’?” That question alone can help cut through the clutter and confusion.
The faster you go from idea to implementation, the faster you’ll get feedback and results. Feedback is how you’ll know if you can get traction and what platforms work best for your audience.
In terms of social media marketing, let’s say you wanted to expand into a new market. Your business goal is to connect with influencers in that market.
A minimum viable approach might look something like this:
You want to break into a new market and you decide a great way to engage your desired audience is to work with influencers. Your full approach might include compiling a list of 30 influencers who will partner with you and mention you on their channels on a regular basis as a way to raise awareness, get mentions, and invite engagement.
That’s your full approach, but instead of rolling it out full tilt, create a list of influencers in the target niche who might be open to sponsored posts. Engage with these influencers and then direct message them to see if they’d be open to partnering with you. If they are, set up a monthly sponsored post campaign.
That is a minimum viable version of this plan. One that will get you from idea to feedback/data in the shortest possible amount of time.
Phase 2: Nice to have (but only if there’s time)
This is where you can add a bit of “spit and polish” to your campaign if you have the time.
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In Phase 1, we looked at connecting with influencers in a new market. The purpose being to increase reach, impressions, and to drive engagement with their audiences.
What if you could take things further? In other words, deepen the level of engagement and increase conversions with certain segments of the audience. Especially those that respond to your posts and promotions.
If you do have the time, then you could try ideas like –
Create landing pages for your social media offers and include a call to action to watch a webinar. When they sign up, visitors will receive a sequence of emails including one that offers a special bonus purchase code. Those who purchase receive autoresponder emails containing tips to make the most of their purchase.
To test these out, you could build out 2-3 landing pages and promote them by reaching out to owners of groups that share your target audience. Add value to the webinar offer by providing a worksheet in preparation for the webinar and creating a sequence that promotes the bonus offer more than once. Use marketing automation to create email sequences for purchasers and tailor them to the behaviors they exhibited during the initial autoresponder series.
Phase 3: Implement later
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These are tactics you would only use once the MVP tactics have all been successfully implemented. Here you can further build out each tactic we covered in Phase 2, or finesse them a bit. The aim here is to improve the level of engagement and conversions with the target audience that respond to your social media posts and promotions.
Keep in mind that you don’t need any of these to kick things off. But once you have tested out the primary tactics, you can look at improving the performance and adding bells and whistles.
What would it look like? Here are a few examples:
Your approach may begin when prospects see your webinar post in their social feeds. Those who click on it visit a landing page with an offer. Once they register for the webinar they receive a series of emails related to the webinar topic. People who buy the course get tips on how to make the most of their purchase.
To implement this, you could use paid advertising to drive traffic to your landing page which uses software to create a webinar funnel and associated offers. You also build out the autoresponder series of emails, add related content to your site and sprinkle offers throughout the email series. When people make a purchase, use marketing automation to upsell related products depending on past behaviors.
As you can see, prioritizing your social media marketing to do list is not only achievable, it’s essential. It just requires laser focus on your most urgent business goal. This focus, in turn, informs an approach to take your business goal from idea to fruition. To minimize risk and waste of resources, a phased process based around a minimum viable product approach will help.
It is important to remember that a feeling of overwhelm and confusion is common. I have been there myself, as have many others.
On the bright side, there is hope. You no longer have to be subject to such feelings. The minimum viable approach can help with this.
Any questions on how to get started with your social media marketing? Any techniques you use to stay focused on your most important tactics? Let me know in the comments.