Getting your business started with social media can feel overwhelming to say the least. With so many social platforms available, it’s important to have a clear plan before you begin. As the saying goes, slow down to speed up. This is especially true for launching your social media channels. Take your time getting organized in the beginning so it’s easier down the road. Here are 8 steps to get you ready to launch your social media channels: \tDefine your goals. \tUnderstand your audience. \tCreate authentic content. \tEngage in conversation. \tIntegrate your marketing. \tCreate a schedule. \tDefine a manager. \tMonitor your efforts. 01 Define your goals. Before you even get started with social media, you need to understand why you are doing it. Are you trying to generate sales? Are you trying to connect & build loyalty with your customers? Are you a new company that is trying to inform people about your products/services? Understanding your goals will help in narrowing down your social media channels and will be the underlying base of your strategy. 02 Understand your audience. Defining your audience will help to understand what kind of content you will push out. What topics are interesting to your audience? What kind of questions can you ask them to get a conversation started? What social media platforms are majority of your customers (or potential customers) using? Let’s say your company sells organic baby food. In this case, most of your efforts will be geared towards Facebook, Instagram and maybe Pinterest – places where those parents are spending a portion of their time looking for baby tips, products, and ideas. Let’s take another example, and say you have a software development company. You would probably focus more of your efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn, where people spend more time discussing or looking for news, B2B & technology focused information. With so many social media channels available (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, just to name a few), it’s really important to define your goals and understand your audience so you can hone in on a few channels and do them really well. If you have a dedicated marketing team, it would be easier to have a presence across the board on all social channels. If you are a new company or are a small business, then stick with a few of your most important channels and do them really well. 03 Create authentic content. What is the “personality” of your business? Creating content that matches with your brand style and tone is key – using the keyboard as your voice can be challenging. Understanding your audience and knowing what types of content will engage them will help guide your content. A few tips to keep in mind here: \tBe sure not to overly promote your business or product in every post. Use the 80-20 rule where only 20% of the posts should directly promote your business. Eighty percent of your posts should be everything else, such as industry news, educational posts & entertaining memes. And if you share content from another source (another blog, news article, etc.), try to give your thoughts in your post that you share. \tDo not get in the habit of sending out syndicated messages; you can have the same picture but change up the verbiage to flow with that social platform. For example, GLIDE just launched a new website for Taco Deli. The content we posted is just slightly different on Facebook than on Twitter: FACEBOOK: We loved working with Tacodeli on creating their new website: https://www.tacodeli.com/. Check it out! TWITTER: We loved working with @tacodeli on creating their new website: https://www.tacodeli.com/. #webdesign + #tacos #hungry There are several social media management tools (HootSuite and Sprout Social, for example), which make managing several channels much easier. You can create content, add photos and schedule posts in advance. Facebook will even allow you to schedule out posts straight from their platform. You can also share a post directly from Instagram to Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr to help save time (but again, be careful with exact same posts all the time across all channels). 04 Engage in conversation. Your job isn’t done with just posting – you also have to manage your channels. Answer questions or comments as they come in (or within a business day). Ask engaging questions in your posts – people love to share their opinion! Thank someone when they have “shared” or “retweeted” a post of yours, and respond to any posts that have you tagged. This is where you are really talking directly to your customers, so don’t ignore the opportunity to interact with them. 05 Integrate your marketing. You want everything to align – so if you are doing any promotions or special events, make sure your consistent with your messaging and timing. Make sure your traditional marketing methods (postcards, e-mails, etc.) are working together with your social campaigns. 06 Create a schedule. I always create a quarterly plan for our clients, which helps guide us (and them) through a few months of the company’s special events, promotions and upcoming national holidays & observances (even the silly social media holidays, such as #PeanutButterLoversDay). This helps tremendously in planning for what photos to use & content to go with it in advance. This also guides us through what posts to push out through the week, for example: Mondays: #motivationmonday – use an inspiring quote on graphic provided by client Tuesdays: any company news or events we need to announce And so on…creating a posting guide for each week and perhaps even a theme of the month or quarter will help make creating content easier. This doesn’t mean you need to post something every day. It’s really finding a balance between what you can realistically do and how often your customers want to hear from you. It’s not about the quantity of posts, it’s about the quality. So don’t worry if you miss a day or two here and there – but do not go totally silent for months at a time. In general, find a schedule that you feel comfortable working with each week (maybe starting with just one post a week) and adjust from there. 07 Define a manager. So now that you’ve got your goals, your audience, and your plan – who can handle this? Is it someone on your team that can dedicate the needed time each week to manage your social channels? Or perhaps it’s a shared responsibility between two people. Be sure and set clear expectations when responsibilities are shared as they have the potential to fall through the cracks otherwise. For example, maybe one person creates the content and another person posts the content and monitors comments. Another option is outsourcing the management to a third party, as we offer here at GLIDE. 08 Monitor your efforts. Check on how your posts do. Most channels have some sort of analytics you can download to see how your efforts are working. Which days/times seem to get the most engagement? Which posts are the most liked & have created the most conversation or shares? It’s not just about having 10,000 followers on your page – I would rather have 1,000 really engaged, loyal fans that are excited about the company and want to share their experiences vs. people who have liked you and forgotten you. I hope that helps you form a plan to have a successful, fun, and engaging social media strategy. Done well, your company will have a clear voice and an audience that is listening. If you are having trouble managing your social campaigns or would like help launching your channels, our GLIDE team is happy to help. We have several options to meet various budgets – whether you want a plan to guide you through that you manage yourself or you want us to do all the work.