Managed Marketing for Growth-Driven Businesses

Tending Your Social Media Garden

September 13, 2016
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Let’s face it: social media strategy is overwhelming at best. For so many of us, our days consist of client meetings, pounding the pavement–making the magic happen! Small business owners in particular often wear a multitude of hats—who wouldn’t be reluctant to add “social media marketing strategist” to a never ending list of responsibilities?

Social media marketing is akin to staring at a white canvas, a blank screen or an empty garden bed. How do you know where to start?

When explaining Social Media Strategy, I find it helpful to use gardening as a metaphor for tending to your Social Media plan.

Step 1: Choose Your Social Garden Plot

First things first: you need to figure out which Social platforms make the most sense for your business.

When making this decision, think about your audience and where they are likely to spend their time. Let’s suppose you are an interior designer or a residential architect. For folks within this industry, having a presence on Pinterest and Houzz is incredibly powerful. These social sites were built for people who are collecting and curating visual inspirations for homes and living spaces. By cultivating an active presence on these sites, a designer or architect has the potential to connect with customers in a more interactive and engaging fashion.

Step 2: Prepare The Soil / Devise a Plan

Now that you have a viable garden plot, resist the temptation to throw down some seeds and walk away. The ground needs to be tilled, fertilized, groomed, and organized into sections to maximize growth potential. When it comes to Social Media, you cannot simply pick three sites and start posting. You need a plan.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
• What are my reasons for being on these Social Media sites?
• What are my short-term goals and long-term goals?
• Who is my audience?
• What does my audience want?
• How do I plan to engage my audience?

Answering these questions and putting a plan in place is the key step to any Social Media strategy.

Step 3: Plant The Seeds / Execute Your Social Media Strategy

When your garden is ready to be planted, it’s time to plant the seeds. The seeds need to be properly spaced to allow for sufficient growth. They need to be placed at measured intervals and at a calculated depth into the soil. Now that you’ve determined your Social Platforms and why, you need to determine HOW you will use it.

Now ask yourself a new set of questions:
• How frequently will I post?
• What type of posts should I generate?
• Who will be responsible for making these posts?
• Who will respond to customer requests and engagement?
• How will I handle negative comments
• How will I cross-advertise across multiple platforms?

These are important calculations that you must make to ensure a successful strategy.

Step 4: Water Your Garden / Engagement & Maintenance

Once you’ve planted your seeds in a helpful and thoughtful way, your social media garden will start to grow. But again, consistency and proper scheduling is key to keeping your audience engaged. Interesting, fresh content must be provided at the appropriate times to feed your social garden. You also need to monitor your engagement and respond quickly to comments and reviews. It’s important to remember that, much like watering a garden, this is the one never-ending step of the process. But if you are diligent and respectful to your audience, the hard work will most certainly pay off.

Step 5: Be Human!

The end game is to establish your business as a trusted and respected authority within your industry. Once you’ve earned some of your social followers’ time, attention and respect, many of your connections will become leads–and those leads will become sales. But in order to keep this cycle moving in a positive direction, you need to stay top of mind–not just with new customers but old customers too–and offering thoughts that are useful and of value.

Please remember that a real garden supports living, breathing things just like your customers. You aren’t talking to a robot or a faceless/emotionless creature. You are vying for the attention and trust of other goofball humans like yourself. Your customers want to know–even need to know– that you are not an internet cyborg. It’s imperative that you demonstrate to your audience that you are willing to share unique thoughts, opinions and offerings of value.

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