Words by Zafer Younis
Two years ago, The Online Project began offering social media utilization services to companies in the Middle East. As one of the region’s first social media agencies, we serviced clients from a variety of industries and budgets. With unique differentiators, one constant was observed from the start: every enterprise we dealt with had the opportunity to benefit from social media.
Today, our experience has grown deeper across multiple disciplines and this constant still remains true so long as companies begin their exploration on social media outlets with a strategy and direction of where they aim to be.
The opportunity for SMEs to benefit from social media utilization has not dwindled. However, like any marketing or outreach exercise, the beginning can be daunting, so we have prepared this basic guideline for how to approach your endeavors on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media platform you wish to pursue.
Step 1: Identify your goals
Clearly articulating your goals before getting started will guide your strategy, allow you to track your progress and end results. By understanding the objectives you want to achieve first, you and your team will be able to ask yourselves if your actions support achieving that end goal.
Once you identify your goals, it’s important to determine how you will measure them. The online world is full of factors to be measured; identify the metrics that will let you know if you’re getting closer or further from the end picture.
Companies that are using social media to drive sales will have to look at very different metrics than companies who are using it for solving customer care issues or for marketing.
Step 2: Identify your audience and your platforms
Once you know what you want to do and how you will measure your success, you need to articulate who you plan to reach.
Knowing your target audience will allow you to develop a relevant communication plan, and most importantly it will guide you in what platforms to use. Not all social media opportunities are created equally and no two popular social networking platforms cater to the exact kind of audience. Know who you want to reach and then decide where to go to find them.
Step 3: Write down your timeline and milestones
Before we began working with some of the most recognized brands in the region, we experimented on social media with our own brands – the first being a Jordanian based radio station that caters to a young audience.
We knew we wanted to be on Facebook because that is where our audience was, so we broke down our plan to “conquer” Facebook into smaller phases. Each phase had a milestone related to our overall goal, which allowed us to track our progress in smaller steps.
Step 4: Prepare your content
Each brand and community has its own unique personality, which you articulate through content. Preparing content beforehand will give enough time to plan things ahead, like testing variant content, times to post and study the results, it will also help reduce the amount of time the community manager will spend on this task. Instead of doing it daily, it will be done on weekly bases resulting in higher efficiency.
Step 5: Find your most passionate users
The first movers into your community are the ones that set the tone and direction more than you will, which is why it’s important to bring in your brand advocates to start.
Brand advocates are like key players in sports, not only will they strengthen your community from the inside but they will also help spread your brand to wider and more variable audience; they sometimes even spread it into different platforms.
Identify your advocates and invite them to your shared space.
Step 6: Engage, engage, engage
A social media strategy has to revolve around one main element: being social. Let people take advantage of communicating with you to develop a true community around your organization or brand and that is when you’ll begin to see the benefits of going social.
This 6-step process is essential to get you started on social media. Once you’re there and you begin building your community, it’s important to listen to the conversation and see where your community takes you. User generated conversations and content will open up a world of possibilities to grow your brand and improve your services and products.