Your Social Media Strategy for 2016

social media strategyAs we come to the end of the year, it is a good time to refocus your marketing efforts and prepare to fire on all cylinders come new year.

Undoubtedly, as people in Southeast Asia get on board social media by the millions, it might be wise for you to review what you’re doing and what you haven’t done to reach your next customer.

If you don’t know where to start, here are some tips of what you should start doing and what you should avoid in 2016.

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What you should do

Try paid advertising

If all you’ve done on social media is posting sporadic blog posts on Facebook and couple of tweets on Twitter, you should consider getting serious and set aside a small budget for paid advertising. Facebook, like all mainstream social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, is constantly optimising their paid distribution algorithms. If you want to reach new users faster, parting with some cash for your content might not be a bad idea at all.

If Facebook is your main social media marketing channel, here’s another reason to try this strategy: Facebook could be restricting your organic reach. That being said, stop focusing about creating “viral” content and spend adequate time and effort producing quality content.

Try something new

What’s stopping you? You don’t need a digital movie camera and expensive software to produce short videos. You don’t need a condenser microphone and a studio to create podcasts. You certainly don’t need to hire full-time designers to come out with infographics. Take this as a challenge: Brainstorm for new forms of content that could potentially work for your brand. Find ways to do it at more affordable rates (look for affordable software or freelancers you can work with) and do it consistently. Measure the results through social media analytics or solicit feedback directly from your customers if they are enjoying the new content. If they don’t, try something new. If they do, congratulations! You just improved your repertoire of social media content that works for you.

social-media

Start keeping track of your social media efforts

Personally, I have two spreadsheets that help me understand the ROI of my social media efforts: one for sales and another for organic engagements. As I encourage you to do the same, allow me to run through how these spreadsheets help me in my work.

All marketing efforts should lead to return on investment in terms of sales, awareness or relationship management. While you can’t quantify awareness and relationships, you can certainly keep tabs on your sales. Like all other marketing efforts, it’s a good practice to create a system to track your expenses on social media and how it translates to any change in sales. In other words, by tracking, you will begin to understand how social media can boost your sales, and to what extent. For my first spreadsheet, I log down every single cent spent from my marketing budget and my formula will help me track the monetary ROI of my campaigns.

On my second spreadsheet is where I log down the organic engagements on a weekly basis. This spreadsheet not only makes my regular social media reports a breeze to generate, the data  gives me a micro view of the recent content trends and readership patterns. With that, I am better equipped with information of how I can optimise my postings.

If your startup’s marketing strategy relies heavily on social media, I encourage you to start creating a basic tracking system, as this will help you as you scale up your operations.

Doing fewer things better

One common mistake that social media first-timers make is to have your feet in many boats at the same time. Which is better: having superficial presence in ten social media channels or having deep engagements and meaningful conversations in two? While the former can help you improve your SEO, customers will prefer the latter as they will trust you better when they feel the respect and care you show through your conversations with them. Focus on fewer channels and spend quality time with your customers on those channels.

Furthermore, I am a firm believer of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.It is a common rule of thumb in business that ‘80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients’. In the same light, I believe that 20% of your marketing efforts account for 80% of the sales you make. If you are able to find out what that 20% is and be laser focused at getting better at it, you are likely to generate more sales than if you spread yourself out too thinly across social platforms and content experiments.

What you should avoid doing

social-appsBe culturally and politically insensitive

If there’s any surefire way to go viral, it is to make insensitive remarks against any minority groups. This year, we have seen countless examples of social media fails and netizens are more acute and critical to discriminating remarks than ever. Now that everyone’s got a voice through social media, it doesn’t matter if you’re the President of the United States or the owner of a small retail store, social media crises can break out any moment if you’re not careful, leading to a PR breakdown, drastically affecting sales at worst.

One practical step to take is to be constantly in the loop of the latest trending topics and talking points. Most PR crises break out because the insensitive remark or comment in question could just happen to be a worldwide trending topic because of an unrelated major issue, and users could be still raw about the subject. Steer clear of sensitive cultural and political issues altogether if you can. It’s also important to remember that you’re not a politician. Just because you have 50,000 fans on Facebook doesn’t mean you can comment freely about certain government policies and endorsements, terrorism incidents or cultural behaviour.

Just like any press releases and traditional marketing collaterals, make sure you are all-inclusive in your campaign messages. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a PR specialist; by all means, have fun and be cheeky, but always remain neutral and objective.

Thinking you’re a celebrity

Yes, we get it. You have 1,000,000 fans on your startup’s Facebook page. But that doesn’t make you a celebrity or give you the right to act like one. If there’s an unchanging truth about social media that I learnt through my experience, it’s that there are always going to be trolls or “keyboard warriors” lurking around. Because of relative anonymity, people can get nasty without reason. Do not be defensive, sarcastic or condescending in your responses. If the Tinder PR meltdown this year taught us anything, it’s that a defensive stance only spurs more destructive arguments. Nobody likes that guy who thinks he’s always right. If you’re caught in an argument, seek to understand the issue, apologise if needed, and strive to resolve the issue privately.

One positive example is Singapore’s Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong. For a man of his stature, even if he has a personal assistant doubling as a social media manager, it’s refreshing to see him doing his best to be as genuine and close to his 900,000 Facebook followers as possible. His personality is consistently shown through his candid photo updates and personable captions.

And if anyone is likely to have a tough time on social media, it’ll certainly be politicians. Mr Lee seems to be doing pretty well on social media so far.

Talk only about your product

Have you ever been to a networking session and meet that one dude that always talks about his investment portfolio, sports cars and exclusive parties? No one likes that guy. Don’t be that guy.

It’s the same on social media. If you treat your Facebook page simply as a megaphone, shouting your promotions and “salesy” messages to your followers, you are unlikely to see much success. There’s nothing wrong with Facebook; people just don’t like seeing flashy promotional posters and messages that often.

There’s no glory in constant self-promotion. Although you should definitely post product reviews by actual customers, remember to develop a suitable mix of social content for your followers. If you want to convert your followers into loyal advocates, you need to catch their attention and offer value consistently. To help new startups with their first baby steps, some social media experts recommend content curation methods like the “Golden 5-3-2” which states that for every 10 updates that you post, 5 should be syndicated content from reputable sources relevant to your audience, 3 should be content created by you that are not promotional materials, and 2 should be personal, non-work related content to humanise your brand.

Ultimately, you know your customers better than anyone else. You have data to your customers that no one else has. You should adopt and optimise any content curation methods to suit your audience as time goes by.

Final thoughts

With each passing year, social media becomes a noisier landscape where advertisers are literally shouting over one another with their massive marketing budgets. My mentor taught me three things will always be true on social media:

  1. Content is king.
  2. Community comes first.
  3. If you are not engaging your followers, someone else will.

This list is definitely not exhaustive. I hope these tips can jumpstart your social media strategies for the new year. Feel free to add on to this list if you have any brilliant tips or good practices you’ve adopting!

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