Social media is not a campaign. It’s a channel. It’s a means to an end, not an end in itself. That means your social media networks should be part of a larger marketing plan.
That being said, you still need a set of goals to guide your individual social media efforts. Like most marketing plans, social media channels need to go through the following five goals in order to produce the kind of results that are truly profitable.
Step #1: Identify warm prospects
There is no doubt that social media has gone mainstream. Virtually everyone in America knows what Twitter and Facebook is.
Earlier this year, Edison Research published a report that showed how Americans are using social media. One of the things they uncovered is that 52% of Americans over the age of 12 have at least one social media account. And 51% of all Americans are on Facebook.
That’s huge! But just because there is a huge audience doesn’t mean all members of it are your prospects. You need to define your prospect before you decide who to attract and follow.
In fact, without a defined idea of who your prospect is, your social networks will just get big, clunky and messy. You may end up like Chris Brogan or Michael Hyatt who both unfollowed over 100,000 people. While that’s not a career-ending move, it just demonstrates what happens when you launch into something without a plan.
To identify prospects, you can:
- Figure out who the ideal person you are looking to connect with is. Is it a business owner, a VP of marketing, or a social media consultant? This person should ideally be a decision-maker and the one who is going to buy your product or service.
- Once you know whom you want to reach, look for areas where they may hang out. It could be social sites like Twitter and Facebook or other types of sites like Digg.
- After you know the avenues they use, do searches to connect with those people. For example, if you are looking to connect with the VP of marketing, search for marketing-related topics on Twitter and start engaging with the people who are tweeting about those subjects.
Step #2: Establish a conversation with your prospect
One of the most effective ways to use social media is to encourage people to follow you based upon a purpose. This could be as simple as attracting followers with deeply discounted offers, like what California luxury hotel operator is doing.
But after someone starts following you, you need to look at the conversation that is going on with your prospect. What happens to your content after you send it out? Do people ignore it? Do your questions generate conversations? Are you actually getting sales, subscriptions or more followers?
There are plenty of good social media advertising and metric tools out there that will allow you to measure your social media success.
But why is it important to know your social media stats? For instance, when you significantly increase the frequency of posting, the likelihood of you getting a customer jumps. In fact, according to the 2011 State of Inbound Marketing by HubSpot, posting multiple times a day versus just once a day will increase your customer acquisition rate by 15%.
Of course, you have to know if your audience can stomach that much content. It’s not worth burning them out if they don’t want it. You measure and test your social networks in order to help you establish a comfortable conversation with prospects because in the end, your prospects need to feel comfortable.
Step #3: Establish rapport with your prospect
Growing your social media networks is just one part of the equation. While a large fan base is great, you need to engage that audience.
Fortunately, that’s not as hard to do anymore as it used to be. It seems that users appear to be using social media – like Twitter – more, according to the Social Habit 2011 Edison Research:
Building rapport on the social web occurs in a handful of ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as replying and thanking someone for re-tweeting, inviting him or her to DM you to swap emails and sharing content from other followers with your audience.
Social media levels the playing field and brings you into direct contact with the prospect. You must earn his or her respect through repeated conversations to get to the next level of social media success.
Step #4: Develop a social media relationship
Just because you are talking to people doesn’t mean you have a relationship. That’s the mistake a lot of marketers make. They are rushing to the transaction part simply because they have the conversation.
What you have to understand is that those thousands of interactions between you and your followers or subscribers is what builds trust between you and your prospect. Here’s a diagram of what that looks like:
The path of moving prospects to customers is paved with trust. That means you need to figure out how to move those prospects into a relationship with you.
At this stage of the game, a multi-tiered path is a good idea. For example, you move your prospect to join you on a social network. Next, you begin to engage him or her through questions and surveys. Offer a free download or a webinar. Then recommend the transaction.
Keep in mind, the bigger your brand, the less time you need to build trust. Apple doesn’t have to convince many people to trust them. You, on the other hand, will. So, be patient.
Step #5: Track the lifetime value of a relationship
Finally, you need to be thinking about the lifetime value of your social networks. You are probably familiar with customer lifetime value (CLV), which is the amount of money a company expects to make from one customer during the time of their relationship. In the same way, when used effectively, CLV can lead to improved decision-making and increased profitability when it comes to social media.
In fact, CLV is an important tool that can satisfy executives’ desire for social media accountability, which is something KISSmetrics can do. Besides, a plan without measurable markers is worthless. How are you going to know if you are winning or losing?
Social media is here to stay. And how we think about it is still changing and will continue to for years to come. But smart marketers are learning to treat it like every other traditional marketing tool, which means they set goals and measure the success of those goals. So should you.
What other goals should marketers be setting to measure the success of social media?