If your goal with social media is to just get as many likes, comments, and followers as possible, then you are setting yourself up to waste a lot of time and money. Read on to see why it is so important to have a well-thought-out social media marketing strategy.
Do You Have a Plan?
This article was inspired by a post that I saw on Facebook:
This person was seeking advice for how to grow her nonprofit’s Instagram page. Commenters asked questions like “why do you want more followers?” and “what do you want them to do?” so they could get a sense of the organization’s social media goals and provide meaningful advice. However, these questions went unanswered, and it looks like she may not really understand why her organization is using social media in the first place (i.e. there is no underlying strategy). The thread then devolved into broad recommendations like “post regularly”, “use hashtags”, and “get the account verified”. Generic tactics like that may get you a few hundred followers but will also inevitably bring you a great deal of frustration.
Getting Frustrated with Social Media
I have seen this scenario play out time and time again: A company will be on social media for a few weeks or months, blindly collect hundreds of random followers (many of whom are often spam bots), and then get frustrated when none of their ‘followers’ ever visit their website, make a purchase, or donate. At this point, many will just quit and say that social media is useless. They have lost valuable time (all of those hours spent crafting witty posts and monitoring their accounts) and maybe even money (if they paid to promote posts). Sure, if you’re a large corporation, you can probably just re-strategize and try again. For a small business or nonprofit, however, there may not be enough staff or money available to try for round two. So do it right the first time. Go in with a plan that is actually tied to your business goals.
Why Are You Using Social Media Anyways?
You need followers and engagement, otherwise people won’t know about your awesome company. But that’s not why business and nonprofits use social media. Going into Instagram with the mindset that you want more followers, comments, likes, and ‘possibly’ a few clicks to your website is a recipe for disaster. I don’t know about you, but no one has ever paid me a penny for getting more followers (I’m not a Kardashian).
A nonprofit’s underlying marketing goals are to get donations, raise awareness about a topic by having people share something, and perhaps sell a product or service. There is also the benefit of branding, learning about and interacting with your customers/donors, and keeping tabs on industry trends as well as your competitors. Your social media marketing strategy should be based on these things, and you should look for followers who are most likely to engage in desired behaviors.
Crafting a Winning Social Media Strategy
Okay, you’re ready to build your strategy. What now? Start by thinking of what challenges your business is facing (such as a drop in website visitors, customer retention, or brand perception) and what opportunities social media may present for you (such as gaining access to a new customer pool in another country). This will help you clarify your goals.
Then ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Who are my customers (think of their demographics, behaviors, beliefs, and values)?
- What do I want my customers to do (e.g. buy, donate, raise awareness)?
- Where are my customers (e.g. Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Tumblr, Doximity)?
- Note: Don’t try to be everywhere. Pick 1 or 2 platforms to focus your time and effort on. If your target customers are high school students, for example, then you are much more likely to find them on Snapchat than LinkedIn.
These are the foundations of any good social media strategy. Once you have established a clear reason for why you are using social media and answered the 3 questions above, then you can start asking “how do I get more followers”.