I’ve spoken at length about the business upsides of committing to your social media presence. Whether you’re hoping to attract talent, generate business leads, drive online sales or raise the profile of your business, the right social media strategy can play a huge part in making you successful.

However, there are three challenges for a business to overcome if it really wants to fully exploit social media …

Those three key steps to make your business more social media savvy are:

  • Devising an effective social media strategy
  • Securing the social media skills necessary to deliver this strategy
  • Making the whole business more proactive on social mediaLet’s look at each in turn – and the changes you have to make in your business to exploit the full benefits that social media can bring …

    Devising an effective social media strategy

    Planning is essential when it comes to winning with social media. Once your team is let loose on social media, it can become a major time drain on the business. Your company needs to have a defined audience that it would like to reach, a specific outcome that it wants to achieve – and a funnel that takes people on that journey from first encounter to desired outcome.

    For some businesses this may be achieved entirely organically. You’ll seek to build up an ever larger audience and become increasingly effective at converting that audience into business leads, website traffic, online sales or candidate applicants. Yours will be a business that wins itself a rapidly growing fan base and engages to steer fans in the desired direction.

    For other businesses the focus may be much more focused on direct marketing. You will become expert at using the vast array of advertising options and re-targeting approaches that are made possible by social media advertising channels. You will test, learn, test until you’ve found the formula of audience targeting, advertising copy, call to action and landing page that delivers a favourable ROI on your social media spend.

    In my experience, most businesses will use a combination of both of these approaches to fully take advantage of social media and the business upsides social can bring.

    Securing the social media skills necessary to deliver this strategy

    You probably noticed that we’ve just uncovered a significant obstacle for any business wanting to take advantage of social media Having the skills in your team to do all of the above is a big ask. Maybe you’ll choose to outsource your social media to a social media agency to dodge this challenge altogether, certainly this is an option that some SMEs have been adopting.

    Many businesses would like to have these skills in-house though. At which point you have two options. For the most rapid results, there’s no avoiding the fact that you’ll have to hire a proven Social Media Manager to lead the delivery of this strategy. You’re going to need to involve someone in the hiring process who has deep knowledge of social media, or you run the risk of hiring someone whose seemingly impressive social media skills are actually quite mediocre. Or you’re going to have to find the budget to engage a specialist social media recruitment agency who can select a proven expert for you. Obviously this ratchets up the cost of delivering on your social media strategy quite considerably.

    Once on board you’ll need to invest in keeping their skills current, given the rate at which social media best practice is evolving. Social media training like this actually opens up a second option though. Many businesses are attempting to get social media results at a lower cost by relying on admin staff or interns to deliver their strategy. Without investment in their training, this can be a horribly ineffective option. Social media is often viewed as being free and easy to use. But there’s nothing free or easy about getting business results on social media – and misjudging this is the single biggest reason that businesses fail to get results from social media in our experience.

    However, if you can afford to wait a few more months to see social media results in your business, training up an under-utilised or lower cost member of staff may be a highly attractive option. Online courses can make it possible for a staff member to learn these tools and approaches on the job – and to undertake training that is bespoke to the needs of your individual business. Take a look at The Unfair Advantage if you’re considering going down the route of training staff in social media skills.

    Making the whole business more proactive on social media.

    Numerous studies have shown that potential customers need something like seven touch points with your business before they will feel reassured and ready to “buy”. Whether your “customers” are potential hires that you want to join your business, or people who you want to buy your services online, or businesspeople who you want to request a consultation … the same logic holds. If people have had more exposure to your business brand and its advocates, they are more likely to take the desired course of action and in a shorter space of time.

    It stands to reason, therefore, that a team who all play ball in sharing a company’s messages on social media will achieve stronger results than a company that’s trying to get its message out there on its own. A company whose voice is multiplied is also more likely to be noticed and shared by social media influencers, taking your social media reach to a whole new level.

    Success on this front comes down to two things. Firstly, conveying the message from your CEO that this is critical to the success of the business. You need your staff to really buy in to the importance of them being more proactive on social media. Secondly you need to give your staff the tools necessary to do the job. From curating the content to be shared to providing the tools that make that sharing hassle-free, the easier you make things for staff to get involved the more they will do so.

    Related Video: Social Media Marketing Insights for Small Business Owners

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