Global internet users spend more than two hours a day browsing social media – a double-edged sword for businesses that have the ability to reach more consumers but also have more people to engage with and respond to. In order to develop your social media strategy, the authors recommend asking yourself the following questions: 1) What are your goals? 2) Which platforms should you be using? 3) What is your content strategy? 4) Are you ready to speak to your audience – in real time?

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Businesses of all sizes today are trying to improve the effectiveness of their social media marketing – and for good reason: Digital platforms are constantly innovating the way brands are discovered, shared and experienced. The data speaks for itself: The number of global users of social networks is expected to reach 3.09 billion active users per month by 2021, and global internet users spend around 136 minutes surfing social networks every day. Many companies have responded by devoting more resources to digital marketing. According to a recent estimate from Gartner, technology now accounts for 29% of total marketing expense budgets, and digital advertising spending in 2020 is estimated at approximately $ 385 billion.

These numbers are a double-edged sword, however. Consumers are now reacting to products, services and advertising campaigns in real time via social media and are making new demands on companies. In order to generate and maintain a high level of commitment and enthusiasm online, the company’s goals and values ​​must be clearly defined.

Successful digital strategies aren’t about aesthetics or style, but about what your brand promises and delivers. Ask yourself the following questions to help you develop your strategy:

1. What are your goals?

For startups and niche products, your social media marketing strategy may begin with a need to test ideas, create awareness, and generate anticipation for new products and services. In other cases, the goals can be far more specific – increasing sales, expanding geographically, increasing brand engagement in real time, or generating high quality sales leads.

Once you’ve set your goals, identify your metrics for success. Would you like to win “Likes”? Would you like to initiate an online dialogue on a topic? Or would you like to encourage behavioral changes, for example to encourage your followers to recycle? Your metrics need to be in line with your marketing goals.

The sheer volume of data available can challenge this task. Well-defined metrics, including a schedule and budget, ensure that your campaign is on the right track. Not only can you clearly measure your progress with goals, but they can also give you a clear answer to the next question you need to ask:

2. Which platforms should we use?

Making decisions about platforms must be based on understanding your customer’s identity and preferences. Different social platforms appeal to different populations, and you need to do research to find out where your target audience is online. For example, younger target groups can be reached more effectively on newer platforms such as TikTok or Snapchat. Health and wellness brands with an emphasis on aesthetics may want to develop a more visual strategy that focuses on Instagram. The same logic applies to geography – WhatsApp is popular in India. However, if you want to reach people in China, you need to focus on WeChat or Weibo.

3. What is your content strategy?

Very often companies have the budget, the team, the agencies, and the ideas, but haven’t really delved into the content. This leaves both sales and goodwill on the table: a survey found that 46% of consumers said they followed brands because of their inspirational content. You need to understand what types of content – e.g. B. Articles, videos, pictures – encourage interaction with your audience. Great content strategies ensure conversation and exchange with the brand and other users.

Your content should be unique, useful, and shareable. For example, one of the authors (Deepa) is currently working with ArogyaWorld, a global non-profit health organization, on a campaign to establish a common understanding of “eating right” in India. Inspired by the U.S. government’s MyPlate.gov initiative, we worked with a leading design firm to translate the Indian government’s complex dietary guidelines into a simple picture for North and South Indian cuisines, with amounts cooked and menu options for different Shows age groups and lifestyles. The graphic will be made available to 3 million employees on social media and as part of the Healthy Workplace program.

If your content is sensitive, your content strategy should take this into account. For example, Techdivine, a company owned by one of the writers (Ananthanarayanan), once worked with a client in the mental health industry who was concerned about the lack of engagement on their Facebook page. It quickly became clear that most of the users were not comfortable dealing with this topic on a public platform. We have realigned the strategy to encourage users to chat with the brand using private messaging options from social networking sites. We have also created resources that enable people to securely get answers to their questions with expert articles shared through private chats on social networking platforms via exclusive password access.

4. Are you ready to speak to your audience in real time?

Social media interactions are two-way – both from brands and from consumers. Therefore, your company needs to show that it is listening and addressing questions, concerns and suggestions. Companies that seize a moment can generate brand awareness and goodwill. For example, when a Twitter user recently mocked a South African man who suggested a KFC, the fast food chain provided the couple with a wedding planner. Many other brands, including Coca-Cola, Woolworths, and Audi, also endorsed the couple, showering them with gifts and experiences.

Social media offers brands the opportunity to create unforgettable experiences. Techdivine, a company owned by one of the writers (Ananth), once saw a tweet from someone traveling to Chicago from Manhattan for the first time and mentioned that they were looking for something spicy to eat. We looked back at her previous tweets indicating an interest in art. On behalf of our client, a Chicago-based restaurant, we welcomed her to the Windy City and even shared links to interesting art events and activities in the city. We made sure not to set up our restaurant prematurely. Curious to know who we were, she thanked us for our tweet and asked about our restaurant. At this point, we sent her a beautiful collage of some popular spicy dishes that the restaurant was serving, along with a card and offer that she could unlock by visiting the restaurant and tagging the brand when she checked in. Needless to say, what followed was a visit, not just from her but many others who saw this conversation online.

Brands today have a much greater ability (and responsibility) to inspire and connect with consumers. Trusted brands are more likely to attract businesses, and social media is a powerful tool for generating engagement, getting feedback, and building that trust with your audience. By answering the questions above, you can ensure that your social strategy aligns with your goals and creates value for your users.