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Dynamic Chiropractic Canada – November 1, 2014, Vol. 07, Issue 11
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Three Proven Steps to Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy

By Stephanie Beck

You need a plan for your social media. Maybe you aren't getting the results you like with what you are currently doing or you want to get started but you have no idea what to do. The steps I am about to share were created to position your social media campaign to have the best opportunity for success in promoting your practice.

Step 1

Research which social media sites your ideal customers are spending the majority of their time on and concentrate your efforts there. How do you do this? First, spend an hour on the social media site and search for topics your ideal customers search for and make notes of what kind of information comes up and who is following it. Consumers are using social media sites daily to search for information, recommendations, reviews and answers to their questions. With an overload of information on the standard search engines, more people are turning to social media sites and trusting the information provided on them (by their friends and family) than ever before.

social media - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Next, ask your current ideal customers what social media sites they like the best and spend the most time on. Remember, your strategy for using each social site will differ. The most common social media sites are:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • Pinterest

There is a case study in social media demographics (www.pinterest.com/pin/240590805068049763/) that lists gender, age, education and household income (when available) for each of the social media sites listed above. For example, if your target audience includes female's, ages 35 to 55, married, with at least some level of college education and household income between $50,000 to $99,999, you might be interested to know that millions of them are using Pinterest daily. Once you have identified which social media sites your ideal clients are using, then you can start to develop a marketing strategy that fits with how best to interact with those users on that particular site.

Step 2

Professionally brand your social media sites. If Photoshop, graphic design and marketing are not your forte, I recommend having a professional marketer help you create photos, a logo and set up your profiles for your social media sites. You are going to want to make a great first impression so having your logo, message, photos and profile set up to attract your ideal customers is crucial. This doesn't take much time and should be really affordable. Items to consider when setting up your sites.

Include all contact information, hours, phone and email.

Create "Calls to Action" in your descriptions. I have talked about this in great detail in previous articles, yet this continues to be a frequently overlooked section on most social media profiles.

Include live links to your website, squeeze pages or product/service pages whenever possible, not just in your updates but in your about sections. Some social media sites offer you more opportunity than others to share a variety of information. For example, the LinkedIn company page gives you 10 opportunities to showcase your products and services in great detail. However, Twitter only has two locations for a brief description. The final rule is to complete all boxes available with as much relevant information as possible.

Feature your top products or services and rotate them on a regular basis. Facebook pages (depending on the type of page you select) offer a variety of ways to feature products and services. With the case of Facebook, start by picking your top three and add live links to your website or phone numbers for people to book time, ask questions or find out more in the descriptions. Then make plans to modify or change the offers on a regular basis.

Create visually engaging images and photos. Select photos that best represent or visually tell a story or describe that product or service. If you choose to have someone set these up for you, an average cost is between $100 to $300 per social site. You can find more affordable avenues; remember you get what your pay for so I wouldn't expect to pay less than $100.

Step 3

Start by planning your content. Get creative; develop subjects and topics that are interesting and valuable to your ideal customers. Your objective should be to offer helpful information or solutions. Your content needs to be engaging, entertaining and compelling. Not sure who your ideal customer is? Create a list of your favorite customers or friends and include the attributes that make them your favorite. List your top three types of customers you would like to have and include demographics and what treatments you like to utilize most.

Generate content in several media formats. Use all forms of media when addressing the problems you will be solving for the ideal customers. Some of the most common media forms of shared content are:

  • Videos - You can create your own video using your web cam, phone or digital camera. The best videos for social media sites are no more than three minutes and provide answers to common questions or problems. You can also search YouTube for videos addressing your ideal customers' problems and post the link.
  • Links to articles and blog sites - It can be a link to your personal blog site, an educational organization or research site. Write blog posts to position your site as a great informational source. Your ideal customers will want to connect with people they know, like and trust. You will begin to earn the reputation in your ideal customers' minds as a leader. Your blog can be one of the best tools for building this relationship. Incorporate a strategy to share your blog posts on all your social media sites. Find article links that address your ideal customer's problems, ask engaging questions or share an opinion about the information that helps your ideal client.
  • Sharing info graphics - An info graphic is a form of content marketing. It is a visual image that uses text and/or images to convey a message. They are different from a video or photo. Generally, they are used to demonstrate how to perform ta task, offer a description or tell the history of a product or service. Most updates on Pinterest are info graphics and are available in a variety of sizes depending on the social media site. On Facebook, the shared image size is 504 pixels max width with a varied height while the recommend image upload for a shared link is 1200 x 627 pixels. On Twitter, the shared image size is 375 x 375pixels. On Google it is 497 x 373 pixels. Why is this important? Because you want your images, especially if they contain text, website links or calls to actions to show up correctly on each social site to be the most effective.
  • Share a photo - Use royalty-free photos that represent what you are trying to say and be sure to follow all the licensing rules and regulations for usage. Pictures and videos get the most engagement on social sites so try to coordinate a photo with your post.

Consistency is critical to social media success. Online marketing has a short shelf life so if you are making the commitment to utilize social media you have to be consistent. How much content you will require depends on how often you are posting. For Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+: 1 to 6 posts per day, 5 to 7 days a week. For Twitter: 3 to 6 tweets per day, 5 to 7 days a week. For Pinterest: 1 pin to each of your boards, 3 to 7 days a week. Participate in group or community discussions on Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn once a week.

Monitor and review your analytics regularly. This will help you determine who is the most engaged, the best times to post and help you gain valuable insight into your ideal audience. Review your insight at least once a month. Most social experts review weekly and if you are using any paid advertising, I recommend daily reviews.

Develop strategic online alliances with others on social media sites. Non-profit organizations, trade publications, manufacturers and distributors of products and services you use, and consumer groups are good places to start when you are looking to make connections.

Build your email or cell phone lists. Today, it isn't just about building a list but how active your list is. You don't need a huge number of subscribers, as long as your list is actively commenting, liking and buying your products and services. Create avenues for your followers to join your email or mobile lists so you can connect with them anytime. Add subscribe buttons to your blog. Just remember your 80/20 rule; 80% of the time share updates that are educational and informational and 20% promotional. Here is the simple social media math: 3 posts a day 7 days a week = 21 posts. 20% x 21 = approx. 4 posts a week to be promotional("buy my stuff or subscribe now" type posts). Any more than that and you will likely be ignored by your audience.

Give to get. Whenever possible, help out others. Share blog posts, re-tweet messages, like their pins, share their pins, share their content, follow them and subscribe to their sites. Be sure to comment and like posts daily.

Does this feel like a full-time position? It doesn't have to be as long as you are organized and have a good strategic plan you can easily manage one social media site in less than 40 minutes a day. Here is the bottom line. The world uses social media. There are guidelines for how to best connect with them and have the most success. So, if you want new clients start by crafting a social media strategy.

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