A friend of mine was offered a job of maintaining a local dentist’s social media accounts. While she’s not new to social media herself, she is new to managing social media on behalf of another company. In the marketing world we call that role a social media manager (because marketers come up with really clever names like that). Anyway, this friend of mine asked me some tips on getting started and I figured I would share those for anyone else finding themselves in this position.
Do Reconnaissance and Research the Company’s Competitors
Find out what’s working in your particular industry. Take a look at social media accounts that are doing things right and wrong. You can tell who is doing something right by those companies that are successfully engaging their audience. People are favoriting, sharing, liking, reposting etc. Other things to take note of while doing your research is who the audience tends to be for your competitors that are doing it right. I’ll talk about audience later but for now make note of who the company is appealing to. Is it baby boomers, moms, teens?? By noting the company voice you’ll get a better idea of who your competitor is targeting. Your company may not be targeting the exact same audience but it’s still helpful to note which audience within your niche is capable of being engaged. Observation is one of your greatest tools when it comes to being a good social media manager.
Determine Your Company’s Audience
Figure out who your company has identified that they want to talk to or who is their established audience and why. The problem you may run into here is that company’s tend to think that everyone would want their product or service even if they have an established audience. However, you’re never going to make a difference on social media if you try to appeal to the world (unless you’re a cat, apparently). Determine a company audience to start and begin writing for that particular audience. Think of these early stages as tests. You’re testing whether or not this particular chosen audience will engage with your brand or not. Give it a couple months or so and if it’s not working determine a new audience and test that. It’s okay to fail while in pursuit of the right audience but fail quickly and move on. Don’t continue to appeal to the wrong audience for months on end. Ask me how I know this.
Choose the Right Platform
Determining what social media platforms to focus on will greatly help your efforts. It may make more sense to be on Facebook and Twitter than it does sometime to focus on Pinterest and Tumblr. It all depends on your audience and who you’re trying to reach. There is a ton of research (and opinions!) out there about the type of person that resides on the various social media channels out there. It may be worth your time to look into (or Google) the latest research.
Save Time and Use a Social Media Management Tool
In the beginning, many social media managers get overwhelmed with the task at hand. Try dedicating a certain time of day to scheduling all your social media posts for the week or perhaps just the day. There are plenty of free social media management tools to schedule posts. I use Hootsuite but there are many others. At the time of this writing Facebook allows you to schedule a post for your page too. Doing this allows you to take off some of the burden throughout the day. Keep in mind though that if something unexpected happens in life you may need to stop scheduled posts. I’ll give you a tangible example of what I mean. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened there were many running and fitness brands that had scheduled posts that day. Those brands ended up offending a lot of people because their social media manager didn’t think to stop scheduled posts. The posts they had scheduled under normal circumstances would have been fine but in the context of the events, some of them just seemed insensitive to what was happening. Recent events matter and a social media manager should always be aware of how their content relates to them. Keep things in proper perspective.
Use Tools that Tell You How You’re Doing aka: Analytics
There are online tools out there that can track engagement among other things. We call these tools analytics because they analyze what users are doing on social media and your own website. Keep in mind that when you’re starting from scratch looking at your analytics can be discouraging but don’t lost heart. Analytics can better show you who actually is paying attention to your posts. For example, I once worked on a social media account for a newly formed business. The company had hired an expensive ad agency to tell them who their audience was. I began to notice on analytics that there was a vastly different audience engaging with the company than who the ad agency had determined. It was difficult for the company to come to terms with this because they had made an investment with the ad agency but numbers don’t lie and after a while they realized they needed to switch focus…and they did. Once they did that I was able to speak directly to this new audience and it began to grow and grow. That’s a great example of how analytics can really help you know if you’re on the right track or not. There are a lot of good (free and paid) tools out there to use for analytics but when you’re just starting out I’d suggest Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and Google Analytics.
There is one key element in here that is not included, have you noticed? It’s building your audience. I didn’t forget about it, trust me. It’s just that it’s such a large topic that I decided I’d create a future follow-up blog post dedicated specifically to audience building. And to my friend who sparked this post, good luck to you! You got this.