How to unlock social media success

Is social media working for you? Or are you spending hours of your precious time tweeting, posting and pinning but seeing little or no return for your effort?

Perhaps you hear other people raving about the power of social media and how it’s transformed their business, boosted their income and helped establish them expert in their industry? Are you left wondering if they know a secret you haven’t been let in on?

Well I’m about to tell you what it is.

Unlock social media success

When it feels like all the hours you’re putting into churning out content on Twitter or Facebook are going to waste it’s easy to get disheartened and – shock horror! – consider giving up.

Hold on there! Not so fast!

Here are the most common questions I get asked about social media:

  • What do I post?
  • When should I post?
  • What platforms do I need to be on?

All valid questions. The answers to these questions are your social media tactics.

But like a great military general sending his troops off on a mission you need to know what your objectives are – who or what are you aiming at – otherwise how do you know you’re using the right tactics?

So none of those questions are the first to be asking yourself. If they are, you’ll soon find yourself floundering, sending your troops/posts in random directions with no clear game plan. You’ll fire out all kinds of random content, scatter gun stylee, and guess what?

You’ll end up appealing to precisely no-one.

Kurt Vonnegut1

So what’s the secret?

Get clear about precisely who you’re talking to.

Who are you trying to reach? Who are the people who will make the difference between success and failure for you or your organisations?

If you don’t define who you’re targeting you’ll waste vast amounts of time and energy sharing the wrong content, at the wrong times on the wrong platforms. It’s only once you get really specific about who your audience is that you can start getting clear about your strategy and your tactics.

The who informs the how.

The first steps I take with my clients is to get inside the mind of their target audience.

All marketing is about appealing to the right people. Whether you want to attract consumers, donors, small businesses, big corporates, or public sector bigwigs, on the receiving end of all your messaging are individual people. People with hopes, dreams, fears, worries, countless pressures, competing priorities and millions of other posts, articles and messages vying for their attention.

Be specific

Most of us start off with a vague idea in our own minds of who we’d like to work with, or who we think might want to buy what we’re selling eg. female entrepreneurs, or small charities.

But you need to get really specific about who those people are, not just their gender, age and profession.

What problems are they facing that you can solve?

You need to have a real person in mind whenever you write or post anything, because that’s when you’ll start to resonate with your raving fans.

Here are some questions you could ask your audience:

  • What are their habits, motivations, daily routine?
  • What do they read
  • Are they single or married
  • Do they have children/grandchildren?
  • What do they read?
  • What brands to they like?
  • Where to they shop?
  • Which social media platforms do they use?
  • Why should they care about what you do?
  • What might be the barriers to reaching them or engaging with them?

Create an audience persona

The best way to contain and corral all this information is to create an audience persona for each of your target groups.

An audience persona will turn the vague ideas about your audience into a real person.

The best way to gather the information you need to create your persona would be to survey your audience and use the answers to write your persona. You’ll then also have collected words and phrases your audience uses to weave into your posts and updates.

If a survey isn’t possible – perhaps you don’t have clients yet – then a few conversations with people who fit the description will do, perhaps in a Facebook group or at a networking event. Even your best guess will suffice for now. You can always do a survey later and fine tune your personas then.

Think about the different types of people you want as clients, community members or supporters.

Perhaps you have a very specific audience eg. pregnant women in your local area, or freelancers in London. Maybe you have a few different types of clients.

Write them all down.

For instance, my target audience groups are:

  1. Female solopreneurs.
  2. Small business owners in my local area.
  3. Small UK charity CEOs or directors of communications.

When you’ve completed this, you can use it to start answering those questions I mentioned at the start of this post – what to post, when to post and which channels to be on – because you’ll have some idea of where you audience is, what their routine is, and what they’re interested in.

Then you’ll find you’ve got all the knowledge you need to build a successful social media strategy. One that has a defined voice, clear objectives and starts reaping the rewards you keep hearing about.

No more scatter gun. Get precise.

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