Social media strategies are no longer optional for businesses or non-profits. Customers and donors use social media to vet new products with their friends, to learn more about a business before purchasing, to learn more about a charity or cause before donating, and to interact with customer service if there’s a problem or just want to express their brand loyalty.
Keeping on top of social media can be expensive. In sheer hours alone, you may find you’re engaging too much with your social media channels. Working to supercharge your social media strategies doesn’t have to break the bank, however, if you know what you’re doing.
What Social Media Strategies Should Businesses and Non-Profits Use?
According to William Arruda, there are three elements to effective social media strategy:
- Focus: Whenever you’re on social media, you need to focus on your brand. Avoid getting distracted by topics that don’t involve your brand. If you’re selling furniture you might talk about other elements of a room, for example, but politics should probably be a no-go topic.
- Authenticity: You need to communicate the qualities of your brand and need to respond to people as your brand. For all intents and purposes, you are your brand’s PR specialist whenever you’re on social media.
- Consistency: You need to be consistent in your messaging on social media. People follow you on social media because they have come to expect certain types of information. If you stray too far from the message they’ve come to expect, you may lose followers, or worse, alienate potential customers.
Tips for Focusing Your Social Media Strategies
Developing an organization-wide social media policy is one of the best ways to stay focused while on social media. A social media policy is an internal document that orients everyone in your organization who is on social media to your goals, audience, and message. It’s a write-up of all your main social media strategies, in other words.
You can use a social media policy to govern:
- Approved topics: What topics do you want people to focus on when they are posting on social media?
- No-go topics: What topics do you want people to avoid when they are posting on social media?
- Approved channels: What social media networks does your brand have a presence on?
The key to creating a good social media policy is working collaboratively with everyone in your organization who is on social media to develop a single document you can all agree on. You need to get all members of your team on the same page regarding social media conversations. At the same time, you don’t want them to feel handicapped or paralyzed with fear every time they post.
Tips for Being Authentic With Your Social Media Strategies
Being authentic on social media means “being yourself.” Of course, you should strive to be an ambassador of your brand, not just any old version of yourself. A great tactic for ensuring that what you post matches your audience’s expectations is social listening. Social listening is a social media strategy for paying attention to what people are saying about topics related to your brand.
You can use social listening to assess:
- Brand sentiment: What are people saying about your brand or the brands of competitors?
- Trending keywords: What topics are people talking about that relate to your brand?
- Follower and team management: What are your followers posting about? How are they interacting with you? How do you manage social media across your organization?
Hootsuite is a great tool for social listening as it allows you to see your newest followers, to display all social media posts containing a specific keyword, to see all your direct messages, and to organize content across channels.
Tips for Being Consistent With Your Social Media Strategies
Being consistent on social media means sticking to specific topics, conversations, and weekly posting times. A great tactic for being consistent on social media is developing a social media calendar. A social media calendar is an agreement within your organization regarding how often you will post on each channel and what you will post.
A social media calendar should contain the following elements:
- Schedule for weekly posting: How often will you post to each channel? What times of the day will you post?
- Topics: What are the topics that make the most sense to post about?
- Content sources: What are sources of content that you trust and that will also build credibility for your brand?
Hootsuite is also a great tool for maintaining a social media calendar as it contains a Publisher tool that allows you to see all the content you have scheduled.
What NOT To Do Over Social Media
Just like all marketing straetgies, social media strategies can be either effective or ineffective. It’s your brand, and what you post on social media is completely up to you. As a rule, though, you should probably avoid the following when posting to social media:
- Arguing with your followers: Every time you post on social media, you need to think of yourself as being on a public stage. Would you argue with a potential customer if you saw them in public? Probably not, so don’t argue with your followers.
- Attacking other brands: Negative messaging is a double-edged sword. Sure, you might negatively influence the sentiment for another brand, but you also risk hurting your own brand’s image. It’s just not worth it.
- Connecting with the wrong people: One of my pet peeves on Twitter is when people set one of their social media tools to auto-follow. Auto-following is when a tool follows people based on recent tweets, whether or not they’ve followed you, and other criteria. You can always tell the auto-followers from the rest of us, because they will often unfollow you within 24 hours of following you. This tactic makes no sense and risks alienating people. Instead, only follow people you trust or who you have engaged with in the past.
- Sounding like a robot: If all of your posts sound the same, it will look like you are abusing useful tools like Hootsuite Publisher. You have to strike a delicate balance between using scheduling tools and developing unique posts that grab your audience’s attention.