Developing A Social Media Roadmap For Businesses
We used to say that if your business doesn’t have a website, it may as well be invisible. But with the way we use the internet and how it is changing rapidly, that is no longer the case. Now, if your business is not on social media, it is out of the conversation.
The average American now spends around four hours a day on social media platforms. They are just as likely to search for something on social media as they are on search engines such as Google.
People also see social media as a source of trusted information. Unlike a company website, which only has the information provided by the company itself, on social media, people can see the opinions of the family, friends, and peers. According to recent research, 92 percent of people trust what their peers have to say about a product or brand over what the company says.
Thus, social media is the place for small businesses to be if they want to engage audiences where they are. It also offers a unique opportunity to engender trust, as it is a place where businesses can get other people talking about them.
But effectively using social media as a business can be challenging. It is very different from using social media on a personal level. In order to ensure you are achieving what your business wants from social media and you are using your limited resources wisely, you need a social media roadmap.
But what exactly is a social media roadmap and how do you go about developing one? Read on to find out.
How To Develop A Social Media Roadmap
A social media roadmap is a plan for how exactly your business intends to use social media in order to meet its goals. It is a strategy for how to get the most out of your social media activity, but it differs from a strategy in that it needs to be highly fluid and adaptable so it can move dynamically to accommodate the rapidly changing social media landscape.
What exactly your social media roadmap should look like and contain depends on your industry, the aims of your business, and your business’s size. But the steps for developing a roadmap are fairly consistent.
Step One: Define Your Goals
In addition to deciding your business needs to be on social media, you will need to decide what your business wants to get out of being on social media:
- Are you looking to drive traffic to your website?
- Are you hoping to increase sales?
- Do you want to raise awareness of your brand?
- Are you looking to develop advocates that will promote your brand?
As well as considering what you would like to achieve, your roadmap should also consider who you would like to achieve this with. Who is the target audience for your business?
- Is your brand targeted at young people in the valuable 18-24 years age bracket?
- Are your products designed for busy working parents?
- Are you looking at an older audience with a bigger disposable income?
- Do you want to engage locals that live near your place of business?
- Are you hoping to grow a new international audience, such as tourists from China?
Goals should be specific. If you simply say you want everyone to be talking about your brand, or visiting your website, or buying your products, you are setting yourself up to fail. The type of content that you put out there appeals to different audiences. The types of calls-to-actions that are likely to appeal to each also vary greatly.
There is no one size fits all package. You can certainly have more than one goal, and more than one target audience, but each should be specifically defined.
Step Two: Identify The Right Tools
Once you have identified your social media goals, you can start identifying which tools will best help you meet them. In the first instance, this means choosing the right social media platforms.
There is no need for you to be posting daily on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Snapchat, and more. This would be very time consuming and far from effective.
You need to prioritize the platforms your target audiences are using. For example, if you are looking at a professional B2B audience, LinkedIn and Twitter could be your main platforms. Meanwhile, for young people under the age of 25, Instagram and Snapchat are the best, with Facebook being much less important.
What social media platforms should your business be researching?
- Facebook – 2.44 billion active monthly users
- YouTube – two billion active monthly users
- Instagram – one billion active monthly users
- Tumblr – 642 million active monthly users
- Tik Tok – 500 million active monthly users
- Twitter – 330 million active monthly users
- Weibo – 313 million active monthly users
- LinkedIn – 303 million active monthly users
- Snapchat – 210 million active daily users
- Pinterest – 200 million active monthly users
- Medium – 60 million active monthly users
Once you have identified where your target audience is, you can also start getting an idea of the kind of content that will appeal to them. Are you looking at image-rich Instagram, will you need to invest in creating videos for YouTube or Tik Tok, and will you need to master getting your ideas across in less than 280 characters for Twitter?
You should dedicate time to research your most probable platforms. Look at your competitors and see what kind of content works best for them. Seek out influencers in your area and see how you might be able to engage them with your brand. Influencers are basically power users that have a lot of followers, and are generally trusted.
You will want to investigate the algorithm and how it prioritizes posts, as well as paid options that allow more people to see your content. Generally speaking, most platforms also have an ideal time of day for posting when most people will see their content. For example, many workers check their Twitter between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. before getting stuck into their day.
As well as the platform itself, you will want to look into tools that help facilitate your use of the platform. For example, if you are based in the United States, but you also have a big audience in Europe, you don’t want to be up all night so you can catch the ideal posting window for your European audience. There are platforms that allow you to schedule your content to go out at the ideal time.
Step Three: Put Success Measures In Place
Whenever you invest in your business, you want to know you are getting a positive return on investment. The same is true of social media. You want to know the time and resources you are putting into developing content is getting you the results you want.
You need to have an idea of what social media success will look like and then be able to measure that success. What kind of metrics you put in place will depend on your goals. But what kinds of metrics are useful? Here are some examples.
Number Of Followers
Most companies will have a metric in place that focuses on the number of people that follow them on a designated social media platform and have goals related to growing that number, for example, by five percent each month.
This is a useful metric in terms of measuring general interest in your brand among your target audience. If possible, it is also useful to profile your audience and understand your demographics to see if the people who are following you are the people you expected.
Number Of interactions
More important than the number of people that follow you is the quality of your engagement with your followers. You could have a million followers on Twitter who simply scroll past your posts without really even giving them a thought.
Engagement can be measured through audience activity related to your posts, such as likes, shares, and comments. Shares and comments are the most valuable as they show active engagement and also word of mouth recommendations (or sometimes criticisms). This would also be the key metric to measure if your social media aim is to develop brand ambassadors.
Learn more about why social mentions are so important.
If one of your key goals on social media is to drive traffic to your website or to drive sales, then you will want a way to measure how many people go from social media to your website, and perhaps how many of those people then went on to buy something. Some of this can be achieved using your website analytics.
You can also track this kind of activity by using bespoke short links for each of your campaigns. Then count the number of people who click on the link. In this way, you can also track how many people went from a static Instagram photo to your site, and how many were brought there by a different post that utilized product tags. This can help you decide what kinds of posts are most useful for achieving your goals.
Learn more about using social media to increase your conversion rate.
If your main aim is to improve the reputation of your business among a target audience, you can employ sentiment analysis. This is an automated process that uses AI to determine if people are saying positive, neutral, or negative things about you based on their comments. You can then track the evolution of this over time.
Step Four: Develop A Content Strategy
Once you know your goals, target audience, and what success should look like, you can start developing your content strategy. This should include:
- What type of content you will be posting that tells your story, meets your goals, and appeals to your target audience.
- How you will be sourcing and creating this content.
- Your method for ensuring the quality of content.
- When and how often you will be posting
- How you will encourage audiences to engage with your content.
- How you will monitor and respond to audience engagement.
- Processes measure the success of individual posts and your channel overall.
Your content strategy will develop over time. It is hard to know what will work and what won’t without a bit of experimentation. For example, you may think that video content will work best on Instagram. But you discover that your photos get more likes and comments.
Or, you might decide it is best to post in the evening, thinking that this is when your target audience is most active. You soon learn that your early morning posts get the most traction.
While you will want to be evaluating this constantly, it will prove most important when initially developing your strategy.
Step Five: Evaluate And Refocus
And that brings us to the final step. The one that never ends. You need to be constantly evaluating the success of your social media activity. You can then make adjustments and changes to improve its success. This is not only because you learn more as you use each platform but also because the social media landscape is constantly changing.
New platforms emerge, and new applications are created for existing platforms that change the way people use them. A social media roadmap needs to evolve with the platform and its audience in order to continue being effective. Identify what works and invest in that activity, but also don’t be afraid to experiment and push at the cutting edge.
Getting your business started on social media can seem easy. All it requires is creating an account, much as you did for your personal use. But using social media successfully for business is something very different. It requires working strategically, with firm goals and a clear strategy for how you plan to achieve them.
The task of coming up with an effective social media roadmap can seem daunting, but it need not be. Following a few simple steps can get you started, and as you learn by doing, you will find it increasingly easy, and also gratifying, to adjust your approach in order to get the best results.
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