Using social media to drive business results is a different exercise than playing around on your personal social pages (insert posting-what-you’re-having-for-breakfast joke here). Your goals will change from connecting with friends to systematically defining your social media audience and tailoring your posts to educate, advise and help them.
Your goal now is to earn the trust of potential leads who are searching for solutions from an industry expert like you. Sharing your expertise through social channels will result in new relationships with prospects.
Unlike your personal use of social media, your business use should be backed with a sound strategy. A social media strategy will help you define your goals (a certain number of new leads over a certain time frame, for example), stay on budget, target your audience effectively considering the different social platforms, and calculate your return on investment.
Who are You Helping?
Defining who you are helping with your social media posts is foundational to a successful strategy. What are your buyer personas, and how do you create them?
Don’t rely on educated guesses about who your customers are, or create content based on who you want your customer to be. Research who they are.
Dial in Your Strategy
You can start by learning more about existing customers. Think about the questions they ask you and study any data you have about their demographics, motivations, and interests.
You can use services like Survey Monkey to reach out to your existing contacts and ask them about the things you want to know.
With solid information about your customers, the next step is to distill it into a written description that you can refer back to. These “buyer personas” will sustain your social media campaign over time and ensure your posts are purposeful.
Your research may indicate your customers are more diverse than one buyer persona can capture. Many businesses develop multiple buyer personas. Doing so will change your social media approach. Check out HubSpot’s convenient Make My Persona tool to easily and quickly create detailed buyer personas based on information you have already collected about your audience.
Perhaps one buyer persona you’ve written describes an executive at a corporation with whom you have done business in the past. She uses LinkedIn to follow competitors and connect with professional peers. Craft a series of relevant LinkedIn posts to reach out to this persona.
Another buyer persona may describe a young, urban student with no use for LinkedIn but who is very active on Instagram. Optimizing your post for visual impact and hashtags is a good way to speak to this persona.
Tailor each post to a specific persona instead of trying to reach multiple personas with one post.
Buying Is a Journey
Another component of your audience you should become familiar with is where they are in the buyer’s journey. They buyer’s journey outlines the stages people go through when deciding to make a purchase.
Not everyone who sees your social media posts will be ready to buy, so some of your posts should speak to people who will make a decision in the future. The three stages of the buyer’s journey are:
- Awareness: People who have identified a problem or opportunity but haven’t decided whether they are going to buy anything to address it.
- Consideration: People who have clearly defined their challenge or goal and are evaluating different ways to address it.
- Decision: People who have decided how they will address their issue or goal but haven’t yet made a purchase.
Crafting content specifically to each stage of the buyer’s journey will help to support and engage consumers no matter where they are in the cycle. This information should help to guide their decision-making process without overselling your product or service; it should be a objectively informative, while still increasing brand awareness to keep you front-of-mind of consumers who engage with your content.
Make an Offer
A strategic social media campaign should promote a specific content offer that you have created. Your offer should speak to one buyer and be tailored to where they are on the buyer’s journey.
An offer is something you are providing to educate or help your potential customer. It is typically downloaded from your website in exchange for a prospect’s contact information. Your offer helps establish you as a trusted expert in your field. Examples include FAQ’s, e-books, webinars, and product demos.
The nature of your offer – who it speaks to and where they are on the buyer’s journey – will underpin your social media campaign.
Rely on the value of your content offer to guide your social media posts. If you believe in what you are providing to your audience, your posts will be authentic and attract the leads you seek.
You can create a series of posts that describe your offer and how it is helpful to your audience. You can tailor different posts to speak to different stages of the buyer’s journey. Your posts can feature images or video snippets that preview your offer.
Another posting strategy is to write a blog that puts your content offer in context, describing the problem it will solve for your audience. Then post that blog to social platforms with engaging introductions and images. You can also cull other links and resources that speak to the problem or issue your content offer solves.
As long as you keep your posts themed to your offer, you’ll execute a cohesive social media strategy that gets results.
Thanks for stopping by,
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in March 2017 and has been edited and updated in January 2022.