SOCIAL MEDIA 111 STRATEGIC PLANNING Kay Tilbury, Social Media Marketer from KD Media Publishing Ltd, tells us why social media is such a powerful tool for businesses Social media is evolving faster than ever. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you have to know which platforms to use and how harness their respective marketing opportunities. What was once an additional boost to your brand is now an essential if you really want it to reach its full potential. The number of social media users worldwide this year is a staggering 3.196 billion, that’s an audience you want to capture, whatever your industry. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram give you the opportunity to increase your brand’s awareness, generate leads, keep up-to- date with industry news and help you learn more about your customers – best of all it’s free to join! The creators behind-the-scenes of these platforms have really noticed how beneficial these sites can be for businesses too, with a variety of advertising campaigns, page boosts and an option to specifically target audiences now available. These are paid for advertisements, but it’s a highly cost-effective way to expand your reach. Brands must be fully invested in their social media marketing, with a clear strategy and goal in place. Here are my top tips on the steps you should take to get started: DECIDE ON YOUR NETWORKING SITES Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are today’s most popular sites. It’s therefore important to familiarise yourself with each platform to find out how they work and which audiences they appeal to, then decide which platform is best suited to your brand. RESEARCH COMPETITORS Investigate which channels your competitors are using and the content they’re posting, as this will help you gauge what works best in your industry. Other brand’s contents may inspire your posting styles too. GOALS, OBJECTIVES, TIMELINE You simply can’t move forward without knowing what you’re working towards, so with your company’s needs in mind set realistic, measurable goals. What are you trying to achieve? Define your business’s objectives and – most importantly – make sure you allow time each day to be active on your channels. A neglected account can be damaging to your brand. FIND YOUR VOICE Ensure your brand’s voice is engaging, purposeful and has the right tone. Listen to how customers and others in your industry communicate with each other – is it formal, casual or even quirky? But remember, you wouldn’t speak to a colleague the same way you’d speak to a friend, and you wouldn’t speak to a friend the same way you’d speak to a customer. Exactly the same principle applies to social media for business. It’s essential to remember you’re representing a brand too, so always use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. BUDGET Targeted advertising on social media can be very powerful when it comes to boosting your brand and content, so set yourself a small budget to test which promotional tools work best for you. ANALYSE AND REACT A social media strategy isn’t set in stone, so analyse your content, audience and timings. Continuously keep an eye on the competition. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your strategy if needed. ➯ ➯ ➯ ➯ ➯ ➯ Remember, each goal should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound!