How does your Social Media score?

As a freelance Social Media manager, my number one aim is to make Social Media work as hard as possible for businesses. I have read up, studied, listened and debated about how to do it right.

So, sometimes when I come across brands or businesses not making the most of what Social Media can offer, I wonder how I can help them. Often these accounts are managed in-house with little resource or experience to push them along. Sometimes I find they are outsourced, but seem to be lacking in strategy or direction.

The problem is that many marketers and businesses find it hard to judge when their Social Media is working for them. Just doing it, or having someone ‘do it’ seems to tick the box.

So I thought I can maybe help by posing seven key questions businesses should ask themselves when looking at their Social Media presence to judge whether it’s working as hard for them as it should be.

1. Do you have a purpose?

It might sound obvious, but in the excitement of jumping into the big new world of Social Media, businesses often lose sight of the purpose for being there. Also, objectives often change over time, so it’s good to re-visit now and again.

A Social Media objective is the very first thing any business should agree before even thinking about posting or tweeting. Any activity on these channels is at best pointless and at worst, damaging without having purpose.

Are you wanting to spread awareness of your brand? Grow your customer base? Or connect and keep in touch with your existing customer base? Get visits to your website? By examining your business objectives, you should be able to translate these to Social Media objectives. Then you need to plan all your online activity around this.

2. Do you know who you’re talking to?

Second only in importance to defining objectives, identifying your Social Media audience is essential to a successful strategy. If you have a clear idea of who you’re talking to and why they would want to listen, you can make sure that every tweet or post is crafted to be something that will engage them.

Businesses know their audience like no-one else, and should take the time to study their profiles and online behaviour, their likes and dislikes. In this way, they can reach out to them via Social Media and offer them content that’s really valuable.

Social Media channels have evolved, so it’s possible to segment audiences and target them with different messages. Something to bear in mind if you want to test their reactions to different content. If you have a solid knowledge of your audience, you can engage with them better by giving them what they really want.

3. Are you in the right place?

There is an ever-growing choice of Social Media networks to choose from. Businesses need to think carefully about which ones they should be using. Try to have a presence on them all and chances are, they’ll be neglected (or you’ll spend all your time updating them).

Firstly, consider which platforms your target audience are likely to be using regularly. That’s probably where you want to be. Also, consider the kind of content you have to share. Is it very visual, or mostly blogs, or a mix? This will help you decide where to be. Invest your efforts in doing one or two networks well and you’ll see better results.

4. Are you being sociable?

So, perhaps you’ve ticked all the boxes. You know what you’re doing, who you’re talking to, what you sound like and where you should be. But are you interacting?

Social Media works best when it’s used for engagement and conversations. Simply posting stuff (even if it’s great stuff) won’t work so well for you if you don’t get chatting. You can ask for, and get, great feedback from your audience and best of all, you can listen and find out what they think and what excites them. If you do this and act on it, you’re onto a winner.

5. Is it all about you?

The beauty of marketing on Social Media is the potential for engagement and conversations. If you’re treating it like another print ad or promotional email, you’re missing out. Your fans or followers might be interested in your business, but they don’t want to only hear about what you can offer them.

Try mixing up your content with industry news, or fun and interesting stories from around the web that you know your audience will enjoy. As long as it’s relevant plus useful or entertaining, you’ll create a more engaged following than if you just try to sell to them.

6. Do you sound like yourself?

Social Media channels can be great vehicles for conversations with customers, potential customers and influencers in your industry. So you want to make sure that your brand tone of voice is consistent and spot on every time.

On these platforms you have the opportunity to give your business a human edge, be conversational, not wooden. Talk to customers like a person, add some humour if it fits your brand. Churning out posts that sound like classified ads isn’t going to engage with anyone.

7. Is it working for you?

Are you content that your business has a presence on Social Media and that you have posts going out? Is that the box ticked for you? Or are you actually checking whether these are working for you?

All Social Media platforms have excellent analytics and insight reporting built-in, so you should be using this to check whether your activity is having any effect on your audience. Look at the engagement, are people reacting to what you’re doing? Are you gaining followers? Are people clicking through to your website?

Knowing what metrics to gauge is a skill all Social Media professionals should have. Make sure you’re getting regular reports on how you’re performing and use this information to refine and improve all the time.

So this is how I hope I’ve helped. By giving you 7 important questions you should be asking yourself. If you’re unsure how to judge whether your Social Media efforts are working for you, use these as a self-test. Do you pass?

Sit down and discuss them with your team and I hope they help you focus your Social Media strategy for success!