As a business owner looking for clients on social media, you might feel like Marlin, the bereft father of a little lost clownfish in the Disney Pixar film Finding Nemo.
Just like Marlin found Nemo across the wide-open ocean, you can find your target audience in the hustle and bustle of the online world. But you don’t need to follow Dory’s advice and “just keep swimming.” You need a plan. Before you dive into the deep, read our seven steps to success with your social media strategy.
Step 1. Develop Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are fictional people who represent your ideal clients. Creating buyer personas forces you to think hard about exactly who you think will be attracted to your products and services. HubSpot has a handy Buyer Persona Template to help with this process.
Related Content: How to Craft Vivid Buyer Personas
You only need to worry about a first draft of the personas for this step. In step 2, you’ll use competitive intel to bring your personas into sharper focus.
Step 2. Check Out the Competition
Monitor the blog, social media activity and thought leadership posts of three to five of your closest competitors. Note which content gets the most likes, social shares and comments, and who is responding.
Ask yourself, how similar are the responders to your buyer personas? Perhaps more of them are managers than you imagined, or they skew younger. Refine your buyer personas based on what you learn.
Step 3. Listen
With your clarified buyer personas in tow, go hunting for your target audience:
- Join industry forums.
- Make a list of relevant hashtags on Twitter and keep up with the conversation.
- Identify related groups on LinkedIn and see if you can sign up.
- Attend offline events. Take note of discussion topics and ask questions.
- Read blog comments on your blog and others.
- Check in with industry publications, both online and in print.
Once you’ve found your audience, make like a scholar and study them. What problems do they have? What makes them happy? What jargon do they use?
Add what you discover to your buyer personas in as much detail as possible. Having a crystal-clear sense of what your potential customers care about will help tremendously as you move on to step 4 of your social media strategy.
Step 4. Solve Their Problems
Now that you know what matters to your target audience, use your newfound insight to develop content that answers their questions and solves their problems. Think beyond blog posts: Would they like an app? A webinar? A comprehensive guide that solves a problem? Or maybe they’d prefer a free consultation, or a 20% discount?
Also think about your buyers’ personalities and why they’re on social media. Do they want to be entertained? Inspired? Educated? Create content that delights them, in the form they crave.
Step 5. Mad Men It
It’s time to advertise. Unfortunately, many smaller businesses shy away from online advertising, but that’s a mistake. Advertising is the quickest way to not only expose your followers to your content, but find new followers as well. On every platform, the algorithms are sophisticated enough to allow you to hyper-target the people who see your ad, making it a less expensive and far more valuable tool than many marketers think.
In fact, on some platforms (we’re looking at you, Facebook), you might need to advertise just to get your content to show up.
These guides will get you started:
Step 6. Learn from Your Results
One huge advantage to online advertising – and the real reason we’ve added it as a step – is that it can give you priceless demographic and psychographic data about your audience.
As metrics start rolling in, pay careful attention to who’s clicking on your ads and downloading or otherwise engaging with your content. This will tell you exactly who your fans are and which content they enjoy.
Related Content: 5 Ways Marketing Metrics Can Uncover Content Opportunities
Step 7. Socialize
So far, you’ve developed and refined your buyer personas, listened to your potential clients and learned what motivates them, created content you think they want and learned how to make that content even better. Now it’s finally time to make a splash on social media.
- Follow people and companies on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that resemble your buyers.
- Promote the successful content in a variety of ways and measure results. Does it work to send personal messages on Twitter? To run ads on Facebook? To comment on your targets’ LinkedIn posts?
- When you pull in a new lead, analyze how you did it — and then do it again the same way. Lather, rinse, repeat.
When you invest time, effort and a little of your budget in mapping out the journey to find your Nemo, you’ll meet calmer seas and clearer waters along the way (and avoid ravenous sharks and stinging jellyfish). Bon voyage!