With over 2.77 billion social media users across the globe, it’s safe to say platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter have revolutionized the way companies are doing business. The need for an effective social media strategy, especially in the IT industry, can’t be overstated. By selecting the right platforms, developing a successful strategy, and tactfully monitoring your accounts, you'll leverage this powerful communication tool and improve your business outcomes.
Why IT Companies Need Social Media
Your current customers and prospects are using various social media platforms. In order to reach them, you must implement a social media strategy that you can effectively manage, monitor, and measure. IT companies will benefit from increased brand awareness, new top-of-the-funnel leads, and an effective way to react to your customer’s needs and interests in real-time.
Social media is proven to drive brand awareness. As a key promotion tactic for your content marketing strategy, social media should be used to demonstrate the experience you have in your industry in a way that is helpful and engaging to your audience. The more quality conversations and resources your team publishes through social media platforms, the larger your reach, and the more people are likely to become familiar with your brand. Additionally, social media allows you to give your brand a personality that people can relate to.
Being sensitive to what people actually want to hear from your brand is critical to nurturing relationships with customers and maintaining a strong brand identity. Today, people are talking about your brand, products, services, and your competitors. A strong social media presence gives you the opportunity to guide those conversations.
3 Steps to Create a Social Strategy for Your VAR
Creating a social media strategy doesn’t have to be complicated; it should be clear, concise, and manageable. An effective strategy will identify your audience, goals, and key performance indicators to help you measure success.
1. Identify Your Audience
The first step in creating an effective strategy is defining your audience (current + target customers). Remember your followers are real people, with real needs, and your solutions and services can satisfy those needs.
Creating buyer personas is one method for humanizing your potential customers. By understanding who your customers are and what motivates them, you will be better prepared to craft content that will capture their attention. HubSpot has a great Buyer Persona Template that is simple to use and will get you started. Pro tip: Don't overthink your persona. Pick one that aligns with your primary social media platform and execute.
2. Set Goals + Measure Success
Before you launch a new social media channel or start social media at all, make sure you are clear about your objectives and goals, as well as the metrics you will use to measure your success.
The S.M.A.R.T. goal framework is particularly helpful in identifying your social media success factors. Often times we see clients get frustrated with their social media performance because they are looking at the wrong metrics. There are two types of common measurements used:
Vanity metrics: Retweets, likes, shares, and comments are easy to track, but do not necessarily give you insight into actionable outcomes.
Funnel metrics: Instead, focus on metrics that actually impact acquisition, such as landing page visits, leads generated, or web referrals. These metrics will affirm that your message and the audience are right for your business.
So keep it simple. I typically recommend you measure three things and three things only every month, these include:
Traffic to your website by the number of visits and percentage of overall referral traffic to your site
Number of posts per/month, per/platform
Conversion rate (how many people completed the action you gave them; ie: clicked through to your landing page and downloaded the resource.
3. Develop Your Social Media Promotion Strategy
Once you’re clear on your persona(s) and have identified goals and metrics, it’s time to deploy your content strategy. While it might be tempting to primarily talk about your own products or services, social media should be used to position your brand. Be an expert in the industry by answering questions your audience is asking.
We suggest you build your content in a 70/20/10 formula:
- 70% of your content should be answering questions, providing insight, and demonstrating your expertise.
- 20% should be thought leadership; sharing and commenting on other industry leaders and their content.
- 10% should be your brand/value statements; what you stand for, what you do well, culture posts, etc.
It’s important to create a balance between educational content and promotional content. In order to create the right mix, develop a social media content calendar that helps your team keep track of your posts by identifying the date, topic, message, and type of content that is being promoted. Be sure to build your content calendar inside your content plan. This will ensure it aligns with all your marketing activities from your blog, to your campaigns, to your events.
Choosing The Right Social Media Platform
Pick the right platform. You'll hear me say this over and over again, "your time is valuable, don't waste it in multiple systems." Here's the thing: building your social media strategy is great, but if you don't have the right tool to create, execute, and manage it; you won't do it . I recommend two different tools: HubSpot and CoSchedule.
First, if you use HubSpot then it makes sense to plan and execute your social media content right in HubSpot. This is ideal and the right approach (regardless of your budget) to really maximize your time and the success of all your marketing efforts. HubSpot or the investment in an automation tool will always be my first recommendation.
With HubSpot, your team can create customizable keyword streams across multiple social media platforms to ensure that a relevant topic or conversation is never missed. The platform also allows marketing teams to seamlessly manage all your social media platforms in one place. It's also useful for scheduling posts for future dates in accordance with your content calendar and other marketing activities.
The second is CoSchedule. CoSchedule lets you manage and monitor your social platforms and has an awesome tool called ReQueue which helps maximize the frequency of your social media posts. By saving these posts for later and reusing or "ReQueueing" them in other weeks or months, you increase the lifespan of your evergreen content. This is an AWESOME time-saving resource for marketing teams of one.
The HubSpot social media module is included in the Marketing Pro Subscription ($800 for social, blog, landing pages, email, etc.) and CoSchedule can be purchased for as little as $25 per month for a single user.
Understanding the benefits of social media and building a strategy will better position your organization to serve your customers and grow your business. Take the next step towards a refined marketing approach. Get started with this detailed Social Media Template for IT Marketers that will guide you in building your plan and outlining your objectives to maximize your results.