Two thirds of Internet users in Germany – and 79 percent of 14 to 49-year-olds – are active users of social media networks. This represents enormous potential for targeted marketing, yet most companies still do not have a clear strategy for managing their social media channels. This can be remedied by following a ten-point plan.
The advent of Web 2.0 in 2004 brought with it a social media revolution. Since then, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been offering almost limitless possibilities for personal interaction, thus opening up a promising new realm of marketing opportunities. Despite this, only around 50 percent of all businesses have a documented social media strategy (source: The State of Social Report 2018). In Germany, this number is even lower: According to a study conducted by the German Institute for Marketing, fewer than 30 percent of the country’s businesses follow a pre-planned, strategic approach in their social media marketing.
Many still work by trial and error, while an array of misconceptions and stubborn myths often hold back marketing concepts that are aimed specifically at making the most of the wide range of opportunities Facebook and its peer have to offer. Nevertheless, the various different approaches applied to this issue over the years have yielded a perfect theoretical method – a ten-point plan – that could also benefit your company. Prof. Dr. Alexander Decker of the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt university has outlined this plan in his new book:
The first step in your strategic social media management is analysis: actively monitoring your business, brands and competitors. While this task represents the start of the process, it should be seen as a continuous undertaking – after all, you will need to check every stage of your strategy process.
Once the analysis is complete, define the objectives you want to achieve and the target audiences you want to reach. Think about the following questions: What can your business achieve using social media – and what does it want to achieve? Who has been your business’ audience so far? What social media networks do these target audiences use?
Once you have defined your objectives and target audience, you can move onto the third step of your strategy: selecting the right social media channels to suit your needs. For this stage, it is important to bear in mind the differences in the demographics and user profiles of the different platforms available.
In order to complete the first three steps, you need to have an awareness of the resources available to your business for this strategy. In the fourth step, you need to define how the strategy is organized and who is responsible for each part of it.
You might also like
You might also like
Next, you need to make sure all the components you have defined so far will work together. This is an important milestone in your journey toward a successful social media strategy, and it is also the point at which your objectives, target audience, choice of channel, responsibilities and organization transition from strategic plan to an operative status.
This point combines all the factors that are important in establishing a concrete set of rules. The netiquette aimed at your users, your internal social media guidelines and all the legal terms and conditions of use for the various platforms – following all these rules is an integral part of any successful social media marketing strategy.
7. Plan and Implement
Agenda setting, mix of measures, establishing a presence – Step 7 is all about sifting through and selecting content, coming up with a concrete editorial plan based on the objectives you have set, and establishing and expanding upon your presences on the individual platforms. You should also incorporate automation tools into your planning at this stage.
One of the key aspects of social media is interacting with your users. As such, we have to allocate an entire step to this important networking mechanism. During this step, make sure you consider all the factors that affect how you communicate with your users – from reacting to posts to establishing contact and cultivating a personal relationship.
People on the Internet are often quick to criticize others, and this trend is only becoming more pronounced. As such, it is important for you to become adept at managing and preventing burgeoning crises by acting early and decisively. Let prevention be your watchword. But if you don’t manage to put a lid on any trouble before it boils over, don’t worry – Step 9 also includes all the measures you need to handle a full-blown crisis.
10. Monitor and Analyze
The last step of the ten-point plan is similar to the first in that it is also a continuous process: ongoing checking and optimization within the framework of your strategy. In order to do this, you need to select, continuously monitor and analyze key performance indicators. For example, you could assess the extent to which you have achieved the objectives you set yourself at any time.
These ten points form the “social media cycle”, which boils down all the different approaches taken from the literature on the subject and practical experience. The cycle combines both strategic and operative aspects, and provides plenty of opportunity for feedback at every stage of the process. As such, it gives you an effective, long-term tool for setting up a social media marketing strategy that takes the subject and the opportunities it presents seriously and exploits them in a professional way.
For more information, see:
Alexander Decker, “Der Social-Media-Zyklus”, Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2019, 575 pages, €34.99.