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8 Important Questions Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Must Answer

Social media has become a necessary and important marketing tactic for nearly every business, helping brands and marketers build brand awareness, share and interact with customers and prospects, and create another vital touch point in the evolving customer journey.

But as the social media landscape continues to evolve, competition for audience attention is stiff. In fact, 40% of marketers say social media marketing has become more difficult for them in the last year, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Industry Report. As a result, many brands and marketers feel their social media marketing strategy needs to incorporate a little bit of everything to compete.

However, adding more channels and tactics to your strategy isn’t sustainable, let alone the key to getting the growth, engagement and ROI you’re looking for. The real key is crafting a social media marketing strategy that strikes a balance between your audience’s needs and your brand’s unique business goals.

And in order to create the perfectly balanced strategy, there are some critical questions you must be able to answer. Below we outline nine questions that can help guide your creation efforts.

#1 – How does my social media strategy fit within my overall digital marketing strategy?

Your social media marketing efforts should not be siloed. They should be an integral part of your overall digital marketing strategy—from helping curate content ideas to building brand awareness to engaging with influencers.

Tip: Use your digital marketing strategy as a roadmap for determining how social media can support your overall objectives, as well as individual campaigns or projects.

Your #socialmediamarketing efforts should not be siloed. @CaitlinMBurgess
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#2- What is my objective?

Simply put, there can be no strategy if there’s no end goal. Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next.

Tip: Whether you want to increase your number of followers, boost referral traffic to your website, foster engagement or drive more conversions, set goals that can be measured. In addition, set benchmark goals so you can gauge the success of your efforts as you go so you can put more effort behind what’s working and improve what’s not.

#3 – How will I measure effectiveness or results?

Once you have your objectives, you have to determine how you’ll know if you’ve actually achieved them in a meaningful way. As mentioned above, your goals should be measureable. However, you’ll need to interpret the data you collect to get an accurate view.

Tip: Go beyond high-level metrics. For example, if one of your objectives is to increase website traffic, don’t just look at overall social referral traffic to gauge success. Dig deeper to understand how those visitors are interacting with your content once they get there. Some things to consider are top performing pages, time spent on page, the average number of pages visited and conversions.

Go beyond high-level metrics to determine the effectiveness of #socialmediamarketing. @CaitlinMBurgess
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#4 – Who is my audience?

If you want to build rapport and provide your audience with relevant content and discussion, you need to understand their interests, motivations and pain points, as well as which platforms they’re utilizing most.

Tip: Get started by defining who your ideal customer is by creating a customer persona, which is a general representation of who your target customer/follower is. Get in touch with your sales team to gather direct insights, and dig into your website analytics to learn which channels are driving the most traffic and engagement. In addition, use the insights and analytics options within social platforms to see when and how your followers are engaging with your content.

The goal here is to uncover which social channels are best for reaching your target audience, as well as what topics, content types and discussions are most relevant.

#5 – What type of content does my audience consume on social?

In today’s social media environment, simply sharing links to your company website or blog with a bit of text will not drive your objectives.

Tip: Use the audience insights you’ve gained from your work to create customer personas to create a plan including the appropriate mix of images, videos, links and discussion starters that connect to your audience’s topical interests and information needs.

#6 – What do I want my followers to know about my brand?

Social media gives your brand the opportunity to show people who you are and the value your offer, not just what you sell. Is your brand focused on innovation? Is your amazing corporate culture something that sets you apart from the competition?

Tip: Tell your company’s story. Develop a brand voice that brings a human element and personality to your social media pages. Leave the jargon and sales pitches behind, and talk to people on their level.

Develop a brand voice that brings a human element & personality to your #socialmedia pages.
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#7 – How often will I engage on each channel?

Consistency is key to fostering continued engagement on your social channels. But that doesn’t mean you have to post 10 times a day on each channel. Ultimately, you want to be a regular fixture in news feeds, but not overwhelm your audience.

Tip: Develop a daily, weekly or monthly plan or schedule that details when, where, what and how you’ll be posting. Below is an example of what your template could look like.

#8 – How will I execute my strategy?

All your research and planning will be for nothing if you haven’t defined the tactics, tools and resources you’ll need to execute.

Tip: Combine your social media strategy with your other digital and content marketing efforts to create a tactical mix that speaks to your audience. Some tactics that you could include are influencer content, paid ads, video and live chats.

In addition, determine which curation or management tools will help you find and share relevant content with your audience. Also, make sure you define who within your organization will be responsible for execution and measurement.

When developing your social media marketing strategy, what other key questions did you need to answer? Tell us in the comments section below.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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