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Social Media Management Services: 6 Things to Expect From a Leading Agency

Let’s be honest–sometimes it’s easier to let the professionals handle your social media marketing activities while you get on with conquering your industry. As a hands-on business owner, it might be tough to let go, but the right agency offering the right blend of social media management services can be far more effective than you could ever be on your own.

What should you expect from an agency, though, and how will it benefit your brand? Stay tuned because you’re about to find out.

Social Media Presence Audit#1. Online Audit and Needs Analysis

The ability to conduct an audit of your online presence, as well as analyze your industry, competitors, and target market, should fall within the basic package of any social media management agency. Since each strategy will require a different approach, the provider you choose must be able to evaluate your current reach, traffic drivers, and marketing efforts, and then provide recommendations for strategies that will increase efficiency, improve visibility, ensure the right people hear the right message, add value to your brand’s reputation, and maximize results.

#2. Social Media Strategy Development

Once your current situation is properly understood, the agency should be able to establish platform-specific goals, identify tactics that will improve brand awareness, and build a model for effective stakeholder engagement. Although the strategy may be presented to you in a number of different ways, it should:

  • Help you understand the value proposition of a social media strategy for your business
  • Outline your marketing and communication goals
  • Provide a summary of your current social environment
  • Explain how you’ll tap into conversations and analyze findings
  • Define your objectives and the metrics you’ll measure
  • Describe how you’ll identify and approach influencers
  • Map out a social content strategy
  • Include a social media planning calendar
  • Define how you’ll facilitate and engage in conversations
  • Include relevant tools you’ll use to monitor and measure results
  • Provide details of your social media marketing budget
  • Outline a social media policy for your business

#3. Account Setup

If you haven’t entered the social media realm just yet, the manager allocated to you will create accounts on platforms that are relevant to the needs of your business. That usually includes branding, customization, and other elements that set the tone for your social campaigns. After all, you want optimized profiles that rank well, communicate your brand message effectively, attract followers, and generate leads. If you already have accounts set up, the agency will likely recommend a few tweaks here and there to ensure your profiles are in the best shape possible.

Strategy Implementation#4. Strategy Implementation

After your accounts are set up, it’s time to put your social media plan to work and promote your strategies across multiple channels. Depending on the social sites you choose to leverage, implementation services may include:

  • Business page, pin board, or tab creation
  • Community management and interaction
  • Content development
  • Professional copywriting
  • Media bursts
  • Publishing
  • Background artwork and cover design
  • Vanity URL creation
  • Social ads
  • Competitions and promotions
  • The establishment of discussion groups or forums
  • Video uploads
  • Conversation and trend monitoring
  • App integration
  • Customer service
  • Relationship management

#5. Monitoring and Reporting

Monitoring and ReportingWhen it comes to social media management services, this one is non-negotiable. Measuring your performance against the targets you’ve set, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and then providing suggestions for potential improvements is a key part of any strategy. Therefore, it makes sense that an agency would offer this service.

What you need to worry about is the frequency of reporting, as well as what data is included in those reports. Can they tell you whether you’re generating ROI from your efforts? We’re not talking about “likes” here either; we’re talking about cash in your pocket. If not, you might want to look around for other options.

#6. Training and Support

Whether you hope to relieve the agency of its duties in the future, or you plan to manage your marketing efforts in-house right from the start, a professional company should be able to provide the necessary education, training, support, and advice to ensure your success. This is especially crucial if you’re using new social platforms, management, or monitoring tools.

No one will blame you if you decide to surrender this taxing task to people who can actually keep up with the pace at which networking sites change. Just imagine, you’ll never have to master a platform only to have the features change on you overnight. You’ll also never have to wonder how you’ll manage every facet of a social campaign without being bogged down by the daily grind of profile updates and stats. Whatever you do, though, choose an agency with employees who know what they’re doing. You may have to spend a little extra for quality, but it’ll be well worth it.

 

Are you using social media management services? What would you say is the biggest benefit of outsourcing this task? Perhaps you have a question about hiring the professionals. Pop it in the box below and we’ll do our best to answer it.

5 Practical Things to Look For In A Social Media Editorial Calendar Template

Social media calendarsDo you struggle to stay on top of your daily social media activities?

Perhaps you’re a kickass communicator, but organization isn’t your forte.

Don’t worry. There are thousands of free social media editorial calendar templates you can download to help you plan, execute, and track your social program.

Which template should you choose, though?

Follow along as we look at five practical things you need to look for in an effective calendar for your business.

1. A Great Layout

If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably come across some downloadable templates that look like the inside of a compulsive hoarder’s house. If you can’t make heads or tails of the layout for all the chaos you see, then the calendar is probably not for you. Be sure to pick one with a framework that’s structured and uncluttered.

2. Flexibility

As your social media strategy changes, your need to add or eliminate certain calendar elements will change too. You may even want to integrate other marketing activities into the calendar in order to plan and schedule all promotional initiatives in one place.

Make sure the template you choose is easily adaptable to your business needs. If reconfiguring the layout so that it aligns with your strategy poses too many problems, you might prefer to build your own calendar from scratch. Thankfully, many downloadable templates are created using an Excel spreadsheet, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble making someone else’s calendar your own.

3. Elements That Cover Your Social Properties

Many basic—and older—calendar templates will only provide for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn scheduling. While that’s not a bad start, the chances are you operate on a variety of social platforms including Google+, Pinterest, industry-related forums, and more. You may even run a business blog that requires new content on a regular basis. The calendar you use should not only cover the social properties you own, but it should also allow you to schedule updates to your profile information.

4. The Right Date or Time Components

Believe it or not, this one can be a biggie for businesses with a preference for scheduling content by the hour. If you plan to publish several pieces of social media content on your platforms throughout the day, and you want to include the relevant message or link, you’ll need to find a calendar that maps out the date and time for each day. If you’re following a simplified social program, then you’ll only require the right date components.

5. Simplicity

There may come a time when you’ll need to hand over the schedule to someone else in your business—someone who may not be social media savvy. To ensure effective planning and execution, you’ll need to look for a social media calendar with a structure and components that are universally understood.

There’s nothing worse than looking at a template and not being able to decipher what the acronyms or abbreviations used actually mean. If the calendar is complex in nature, make certain there’s a legend to explain various elements. If you think the calendar is too complicated for a newbie to figure out, keep looking for a simpler one.

If All Else Fails…

Create your own.

Social Media Editorial Calendar

While a downloadable social media editorial calendar template can certainly save you time and effort, sometimes it’s worth building one from the ground up using the free tools you have at your disposal. You can use our post on how to create the ultimate social media editorial calendar as a guide for developing your own. Whatever you do, keep your marketing goals and social media strategy in mind so that you create a calendar that makes the most sense for your business needs.

 

Do you use a social media editorial calendar for your business? Did you create it or download it? Which elements do you think are the most important? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

95 Ways to Generate Social Media Content Ideas

You’ve probably heard that content is the lifeblood of your website, blog, and social feeds. While that’s certainly true, the real question is whether you’re capable of creating enough content to keep your channels alive with compelling updates that foster engagement.

Even the best social media managers experience idea droughts from time to time, so you shouldn’t kick yourself if the content well has run dry. To ensure you’re never short on new concepts for linkable and shareable assets again, we’ve listed 95 ways to generate social media content ideas when you’re in a bind.

social media content ideas

#1 – Define the key problems your target buyers face and then solve them in a series of Tweets or Facebook posts.

#2 – Use the Google AdWords tool to drill down into your keyword research results. You may surface some valuable social media content ideas you’d never thought of before.

#3 – Ask your online communities to submit their most pressing questions. Filter out the best ones and then use the answer to each as a new idea for a blog post you can share with your social media followers.

#4 – Capitalize on Twitter’s trending topics when you have something worthy to add to the conversation.

#5 – Monitor your LinkedIn Groups to determine what your peers currently find useful and interesting. Expand on that information with some unique insight of your own.

#6 – Create a weekly round up of must-read articles your community members shouldn’t miss.

#7 – Meet ups, conferences, and other industry events offer a great source of information. Share tips, advice, interesting news, facts, figures, and other data you gather.

#8 – Leverage your Facebook Insights data to uncover patterns of increased interaction. Figuring out which types of content garner the most engagement may trigger a few new ideas.

#9 – Review your case studies and search for creative ways to repurpose them for your social media channels. Perhaps you’re able to create several visual presentations rather than simply sharing a link to a text-intensive blog post or document.

#10 – If you’ve written an eBook, whitepaper, or guide, share some of your key pieces of advice in bite-size snippets along with a download link to the full document.

#11 – Sift through the latest industry-related books you’ve read to create reading lists you can publish to your feeds.

#12 – Get your key employees or colleagues involved by featuring them in weekly posts that introduce them to your followers. This is a great way to show prospects and buyers the unique personalities behind your brand.

#13 – Develop step-by-step tutorials and then map out creative ways you can share them through your networking channels. Whether you use a series of images, video, or text posts, you may be able to string each tutorial out over the span of several days.

#14 – Search Google News to find targeted news listings based on your area of expertise. You can then use the information you find to update your followers on the latest changes and happenings in the industry.

online newspapers and magazines

Online newspaper and magazine generators allow you to curate timely content for social media followers in a matter of minutes.

#15 – Sites like Flipboard and Paper.li allow you to create your own online magazines or newspapers in minutes. Fill yours with the things your audience cares about and then share it with them via your preferred platforms.

#16 – Question and Answer sites like Quora are goldmines for social media marketers on the lookout for topics where demand for information already exists. Simply search for questions on a relevant subject and then harvest them for your social media and blog marketing efforts.

#17 – Curate content using the top blogs in your industry and then repackage the information with your own valuable input.

#18 – Are there any new stats or research findings you can share? Plump up your post with a little background info on why the research was conducted, as well as the methods used.

#19 – If you have the budget, hire a freelance social media content and branding strategist. A professional will ask the right questions to help you develop powerful ideas your networks will love.

#20 – There’s a reason so many people get their best ideas in the shower. The white noise created by the rushing water improves concentration and stimulates creativity. Thanks to online white noise generators, you don’t have to get wet the next time you need a social media content idea.

#21 – Sometimes your audience needs reminders even if they’ve heard it all before. Recycle old content that’s still as relevant today as it was when you originally published it.

Social media video content#22 – Since most social media sites now allow users to watch video content directly in their feeds, rummage through Youtube, Vimeo, or Vine to find entertaining, informative, or interesting footage your community members might enjoy.

#23 – Speaking of video content, consider ways you can create original videos for your followers. Give them a virtual tour of your office or live event, show them new ways to use your product, or develop a collection of stop-motion instructional videos. Better yet, create a contest that requires fans to send in their own footage.

#24 – Conduct a 30-minute Q&A session through each of your social media profiles. Be sure to set it up when your audience engagement levels are generally high.

#25 – Use social media monitoring tools to tap into conversations. You’re certain to pick up a few things you can address in your own posts.

#26 – If you have a brand calendar, newsletter, or hidden content you believe your social media fans will appreciate, write a short snippet explaining the benefits of subscribing to your content and provide a relevant link.

#27 – Decide on a theme for each day of the week and then create social media content around those ideas. For example, an interior design firm might post a before and after picture of their latest project, adding #MakeoverMondays to their snippet.

#28 – Create themed albums on Facebook and upload any photos you capture at networking events, seminars, and company get-togethers. You can then share the albums or single images across your social media properties.

#29 – Think about things your followers aren’t privy to, but that may interest them. For example, several brands excel at posting fun and themed behind-the-scenes images on Pinterest and Instagram.

#30 – Repost your most engaging and successful pieces of content when appropriate. While networking platforms are a powerful tool, the lifespan of social content is incredibly short. There’s no reason you can’t share something more than once without being seen as a spammer.

#31 – Change your routine to stimulate a different way of thinking. Monotony can hinder your creativity so it might be time to shift your brain into a new gear.

create dialogue using social media tools#32 – Creating fresh content can be as easy as establishing and nurturing dialogue. Host a Google+ Hangout, Twitter chat, or Facebook chat to get the conversation going.

#33 – Collect information and stats around a specific topic and then turn the data into an interesting and visually appealing infographic.

#34 – Positive reviews, quotes, and mentions provide a great source of social proof for your brand. Reward advocates by posting a word of thanks to your stream when appropriate.

#35 – Find humorous content that speaks to your brand’s personality. A funny meme or gif can liven things up while providing you with a way to remain in front of your audience.

#36 – Look for thought-provoking or inspiring quotes. Your followers could do with a little encouragement occasionally.

#37 – When you require feedback, opinions, or information from your target market, polls are a great way to gather data while creating and publishing new content to your social feeds. You may not be able to create polls on Facebook anymore, but companies like Opinion Stage offer an alternative solution.

#38 – Tap into your collection of user-generated content for fresh ideas directly from your audience members.

#39 – Think about generating the type of content that serves to enhance your customer service. Whether you’re addressing complaints, answering questions, or providing advice, you’re shaping the perception of your brand while ensuring your stream remains active.

#40 – Use your social feeds to promote the causes your brand supports. Again, use this as an opportunity to influence the perception of your business in a positive way.

#41 – Publish a series of “image of the day” posts. If you want to make it intriguing, manipulate the image and ask your followers to guess what it is.

#42 – Keep track of company milestones and then be sure to create content that celebrates them across all of your networks.

#43 – Test your audience with a series of trivia questions.

top 10 on green chalkboard#44 – Put together top 10 lists based on topics that interest your prospects and customers. You might even consider posting top 10 moments of the week, month, or year at relevant intervals.

#45 – If it’s within your budget, leverage giveaways to boost your brand’s awareness with creative promotional posts.

#46 – Conduct an interview with an industry expert. Besides giving social media users an opportunity to follow along and add their own input as the interview happens, it also gives you fresh content for a new blog post. Make certain you promote the interview ahead of time.

#47 – Get your fans ready for the weekend with a custom Spotify playlist. Be sure to keep your brand’s reputation in mind when choosing your music selection.

#48 – If you have a graphic designer or illustrator on your team, think about creating a regular company comic strip depicting funny situations in which your customers or employees might find themselves. Alternatively, you can use it to provide serious commentary on common industry problems or changes.

#49 – Spark conversation by selecting two competing products or services, and then ask your fans which they prefer and why. This simple idea can be adapted to any industry. For example, travel agents can pit two destinations against each other.

#50 – When you’re struggling to generate social media content ideas, publish valuable tips and tricks relevant to your target audience.

#51 – Use social media monitoring tools to unearth shareable ideas and trending topics in real-time. These tools are excellent resources when you’re searching for content ideas in a pinch.

#52 – Think of ways to tie in pop culture with a popular topic in your industry. You’ll find this tactic is perfect for spicing up an otherwise dull subject. After all, who wouldn’t want to know what modern marketers can learn from Mad Men or what celebs can teach brands about online community building?

#53 – Use your social profiles to host an online reunion with followers, influencers, and other connections you may have attended an event with in the last few months. This is a great way to provide follow-up content, as well as establish common ground on which to build solid business relationships. Besides assigning a Twitter hashtag, consider developing a Facebook Page or microsite if the size of the online reunion warrants it.

#54 – Ask for help or input on appropriate issues. By showing a little vulnerability, you’re making yourself more relatable as a person and not just a business brand.

#55 – Jump on the debate bandwagon and have your say. Social media sites are rife with industry experts going head-to-head on various topics. Leverage their debates as a way for you to fill your feed with your own opinion on the matter.

#56 – Set up a brainstorming session with your team and focus solely on idea generation for social media content.

#57 – When you have some exciting news to share, run a series of entertaining countdown posts to build anticipation.

#58 – Write reviews for complementary products and services on sites like Yelp and then post the link to your feeds. If your audience sees you as a trusted source, your recommendation is just as powerful as if they were receiving it from a close friend.

#59 – Think about creating “a day in the life of” diary style Facebook posts. There may be interesting characters or jobs around the office you can use as inspiration.

#60 – Special holidays offer plenty of fodder for imaginative and themed pieces of social media content. Mark important dates on your social media editorial calendar and then be sure to post fun and relevant updates.

#61 – If you’re able to develop profiles of industry pioneers that won’t affect your business’s image as an innovator, then consider key people you can profile. You may even have a few of them in your own company.

#62 – Use Google’s predictive search feature to uncover related queries based on a particular keyword or phrase. This is a convenient way to gain content ideas that will also boost your social SEO efforts.

#63 – Explore hot searches, user behavior, and other patterns you can take advantage of with Google Trends. A topic doesn’t have to be trending on Twitter for it to be relevant to a particular community.

#64 – Start collecting content for an inspiration board. Don’t let an overflow of ideas now stop you from creating resources you may need to dig into later.

#65 – As far as online idea boards go, few sites can rival Pinterest. This platform can be a great resource for imagery and inspiration even if you don’t own an account.

Fill-in-the-blank social media content

According to Buddy Media, research shows that fill-in-the-blank posts were nine times more likely to receive comments than other types of posts in 2011. Although it’s two years later, they’re still highly effective for driving fan engagement.

#66Use various aspects of your product, service, or industry to develop fill-in-the-blank posts. If you’re savvy, you’ll create concepts that contribute to your market research efforts.

#67 – Slideshare presentations continue to be incredibly popular, so whether you’re sharing your own or someone else’s, you’re likely to be appreciated by your social media followers.

#68 – Get your team to develop an app related to your business offerings and then promote it to your community.

#69 – For that matter, share your favorite app of the week. It’s all about making the lives of your audience as convenient, easy, and entertaining as possible.

#70 – Ask your PPC manager for additional feedback regarding search queries and click data. Fully understanding what type of content attracts your prospects might conjure up an idea or two.

#71 – Thanks to targeting options on many social platforms, there’s an opportunity to provide additional pieces of content to certain segments of your market. Keep each segment in mind when searching for content ideas because there may be times when you’re able to capitalize on events taking place within certain locations.

#73 – Since we’re talking about market segments, give some thought to exclusive offers or content you can provide to each group. It may be as simple as offering an eBook aimed at individuals within a certain job position.

#74 – Social media users love contests, sweepstakes, and games that allow them to compete for a prize. Besides keeping your social channels active, this type of content generally spreads like wildfire across the net, building brand awareness and growing your community.

#75 – Think of ways you can make a prize or giveaway just as rewarding for you as it is for the winner. For example, you might send your audience on a treasure hunt, posting a series of clues over the course of a week. The more clues you post, the more content you create. To maintain interest, create a mixed bag of clues that include maps, riddles, images, quotes, and more.

#76 – There’s something about stress that can make the brain cloud over at the worst of times. If you’re not someone who thrives under pressure, take time to relax. When you’re able to calm yourself down and clear your mind of unwanted thoughts, you’ll open doors for creative thinking and logical thought processing.

#77 – Visit your favorite industry forums to gain a new perspective from individuals in the same field as you. A little back and forth banter is likely to shake loose a fresh idea.

#78 – Post a link to a relevant TED Talks video along with your own commentary. After all, TED speakers have ideas worth spreading.

#79 – Get out and explore your city. You can look at all the keyword data, trending topic information, and analytics in the world and still generate stale ideas. Sometimes you just need to invigorate your mind, body, and soul with fresh air and reality.

#80 – Ask your audience to help caption humorous photos. Not only is this a great way to keep your feed fresh, but it’s also great way to boost engagement.

#81 – Conduct the occasional observation session. There’s a chance you’ll find unique connections between the people or objects you’re watching and what your business does. These observations often make for interesting blog and social media content.

conversations that spark social media content ideas#82 – Engage in stimulating conversation with someone who may trigger a spark or two in that cranium of yours. We all have people who challenge us intellectually, so give yours a call and set up a coffee date.

#83 – You can often boost your creativity by simply looking at the creativity of others. While you should never steal ideas, assess what other brands—both in and out of your industry—are doing to harness the power of their social platforms.

#84 – Hijack viral content like memes and insert a brand message of your own. This can be a little risky, so make sure you choose the visual content and message carefully. Also, make certain you’re not violating any copyright laws.

#85 – While we’ve mainly focused on searching for questions to answer, you should also ask them. Don’t be afraid to publish tough ones that get your fans thinking about their values, morals, and life in general.

#86 – A huge part of your focus should be about telling your brand’s story. Whenever you’re gearing up for a product launch, emphasizing your brand’s mission, getting behind a cause, starting a new marketing initiative, or doing something amazing, create a storytelling concept board. You can then create and publish content to your social streams as the story unfolds, or once you have a clear idea of the process and outcome.

#87 – Social media marketing isn’t about telling your story alone. Once you’ve built solid relationships with clients, followers, and suppliers, ask to tell their stories, too. Not only will you be creating new social media content, but their anecdotes or narratives will also stand as a testimony to what your business can do.

#88 – Speculate on the future of your niche. In addition to showing brand followers that you’re not scared to make bold predictions based on your extensive knowledge and experience, thinking several years ahead could stimulate new ideas for social media content that’s never been done before.

#89 – Get to know the psychology behind creative thinking and then try different techniques that may work for you. Re-conceptualizing the problem, embracing absurdity, and imposing restrictions are just a few of the methods experts suggest. A few psychological exercises may just be the key to unleashing your internal idea-generator.

Social media content for brands#90 Start looking at your product or service in a completely different light. Oreo excels at showing off one of the world’s most beloved cookies in inventive ways. The company generates likes, shares, and comments by adding #OreoGooglyEyes to random objects, as well as demonstrating new ways to enjoy their product.

#91 – Get to the gym for a workout. Exercise boosts endorphins and increases blood flow to your brain. Besides benefiting from the physical exertion, you might find a happy high and improved mood releases a flood of social media content ideas.

#92 – Don’t forget audio. Too often we limit ourselves to what we see, forgetting that social media allows for audio content without visual elements. Start recording educational podcasts your audience can listen to directly from their feeds.

#93 – Set up Google Alerts to monitor what the search giant sees as being the most valuable and relevant content on a specific keyword. Whether you curate that content into a blog of your own, or simply advertise the link on social media, the news Google delivers right to your inbox can a fantastic source for new ideas.

#94 – Check out the blog comments on compelling posts. You’ll often find differing opinions or snippets of information you can leverage for your own content. You may even be able to spark a debate or discussion of your own if it’s particularly controversial.

#95 – Crowdsource ideas. Yep, it’s as simple as soliciting ideas from your online community or hiring a few freelancers to pitch some unique concepts.

The key is to keep the momentum going. If you’re like most brands, you can’t afford to fall off the social media grid—even if it’s only for a day or two. Hopefully, these suggestions for generating social media content ideas will make your job a little easier than it was before.

Are there any tools or methods you’d suggest for developing new social media content ideas? Add your strategies and tips to the conversation below.

What You Should Know About Becoming a Social Media Strategist

Social media is here to stay and with it is the need for the social media strategist. While you may encounter varied opinions about the title, role, responsibilities, competencies, and personality traits of individuals choosing this career path, the reality is that social campaigns will always need someone to develop, implement, lead, and measure them.

If you’re an aspiring social media strategist, follow along as we look at this career path, as well as the key things you need to know about it.

What It Takes To Become a Social Media Strategist

What It Takes To Become a Social Media Strategist

With so many social media related job titles swirling around the web, you may be wondering about the particular function of the strategist.

In a nutshell, the social media strategist cultivates and manages consumer-business relationships online. While it may sound simple, the role is far more complicated than that. Before we get into the details though, let’s explore the characteristics of a typical candidate.

This career path is ideal for someone who is:

A risk taker: If you’re scared to be a first adopter of new technologies or can’t advocate the use of unusual (but ethical) techniques, then the chances are this job isn’t for you. As communication methods mature, your role as a strategist will need to mature too.

Proactive: If you want to be successful, you can’t be passive. The role demands a social media decision maker—an individual who is always thinking two steps ahead of the game, and is continuously looking to improve relationships with consumers in innovative ways.

Social: It seems like an obvious one, right? The sad story is far too many social media managers don’t know how to engage and communicate with their audience. They don’t know how to stimulate conversation or drive it to a successful end.

Able to manage programs effectively: Social media programs are not only spanning across several departments, but they’re also becoming more complex in nature. Where the skill set once called for someone who is an evangelist, it now calls for someone who can integrate social into all parts of the business and buying cycle.

An achiever when it comes to stakeholder buy-in: Identifying the true decision makers and influencers within an organization and understanding what makes them tick is a huge part of obtaining the support you’ll need to run your social strategy.

Capable of driving a customer-centric vision: A huge part of driving and nurturing the relationships you form with your buying community lies in your ability to apply social media in a way that supports and improves customer experience.

Adept at wearing several hats: In this role, you’re not just the strategist. You’re the analytics expert, the writer, the team manager, the educator to business units, the networking genius, the budget manager, and the go-to person for everything social media related. You know how to organize your department for success, and you do it well.

Job Responsibilities

Duties of a social media strategist may include (but are not limited to):

Social media strategist responsibilities

  • Leading, developing, and executing a company’s social program
  • Setting up scalable community and advocacy programs

  • Managing and participating in social channels
  • Managing the social marketing budget
  • Monitoring, measuring, and reporting on ROI
  • Managing a team and working with stakeholders

  • Creating and implementing social media policies and processes
  • Collaborating with various agencies

  • Monitoring trends, conversations, and competitors

  • Developing training materials and educational tools

The Road to Becoming a Successful Social Media Strategist

The Road to Becoming a Successful Social Media StrategistStep #1: Educate Yourself

For an entry-level position, most employers will require you to have an undergraduate degree or certification in a relevant field. This may include education and training in the area of marketing, public relations, communications, digital marketing, journalism, or online technologies. You’ll also need to have a good grasp on writing for the web. Preferably, you’ll start gaining hands-on experience as early as possible, whether that’s through an internship or similar initiative.

Step #2: Build Your Online Portfolio

These days, building an online portfolio is just as necessary as anything you may collect on paper. After all, many recruiters use social media as their go-to source for potential employees.

Start compiling a professional and polished virtual version of your resume, references, cover letter, certifications, and samples of work. Don’t forget to add links to your engaging social media profiles so you can demonstrate to HR managers how you’ve already taken steps to establish and develop an online presence, as well as grow your list of valuable connections.

Step #3: Apply for Relevant Positions

Start looking for employment opportunities. That means scouring job sites, contacting the right decision makers on platforms like LinkedIn, and networking through your close connections. It may not be an easy job search journey, but a position at the right company will be worth the effort.

Be aware that job listings for a social media strategist may fall under a different title, so you’ll need to search using a variety of applicable keywords. You may find your potential employer has posted the job opening under digital content strategist or social marketing manager.

Resources to Support Your Journey

Online Social Media Training…

1. Syracuse University

2. SayItSocial

3. Social Media Marketing University

4. Society3 Academy

Reading…

With so many books and blogs on social media available today, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to educational reading materials. Consider starting with The Social Media Strategist by Christopher Barger and Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang (a leading authority in the industry). As you work your way from resource to resource, be sure to add the gems to your marketing arsenal.

A Final Thought…

You have to be versatile as a social media strategist if you want to survive this rapidly changing industry. Social media expenditure is usually a minuscule portion of the overall marketing budget, which means your work may not be a priority if things go downhill. In many cases, you’ll need to jump through hoops not only for that sliver of funding, but also to justify your role.

Realize now that social is only a part of the solution to the ongoing challenge of revenue generation. Therefore, you need to evolve your skill set to meet the demands of changing technology and become part of the broader, integrated marketing program within the business. That way, when the bosses from upstairs come knocking on your door, you can show them how your social program is contributing to goals of the organization – especially ROI. Establish a model that can prove your social media marketing efforts are driving customers to a compelling landing page where actual sales conversions are happening.

The bottom line is this: as social media continues to evolve, so will the role of the social media strategist. You may only be a small cog in a massive marketing machine, but if you question, observe, and experiment, you may just become the innovator who is able to guide your organization successfully through the maze that is social media.

Do you have any questions about becoming a social media strategist? Perhaps you are one and have some additional insight to share. Become part of the conversation by leaving a comment below.

How to Hire a Social Media Manager Through Universities

Do you feel like you can get by without a social media manager? If you run a business, you might be able to devote some time and energy to social media concerns, but it’s more likely that you’ll devote time to social media only after you’ve taken care of all of your other responsibilities. As a result, your efforts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and other popular networks will suffer.

Since social media isn’t going away any time soon, you need to devise a plan for your how your business handles it. If you really want to stay competitive, however, you need to consider hiring a social media manager. Although you might balk at the notion of brining an extra person onto your payroll, the benefits associated with hiring a social media manager far outweigh the costs.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Money SavingsBenefits of hiring a social media manager

    This may seem counterintuitive until you give it some thought. By taking on social media duties on your own or handing them off to the marketing department, you put strain and stress on your organization. You also increase the chance that you’ll make a social media blunder when you try to keep too many plates spinning at once.

  • Expert Understanding

    Social media is a relatively new phenomenon, but it has grown quite complex in its short lifespan. If you’re not familiar with the latest, most up-to-date software and tools, or you don’t have a grasp on how people are using the the newest platforms, you won’t be very effective. Hiring a social media manager gives you an instant edge in this realm.

  • A Different Perspective

    One of the most important benefits of hiring a social media manager is the outside perspective they provide. If you’ve got your nose to the proverbial grindstone with your business, you don’t see it the same way others do, and you’re probably not going to be able to relate with the public unless you put a few degrees of separation between your identity as a business owner and your identity as a social media user. By hiring an expert, you ensure that your messages are conveyed in the most effective manner possible.

  • A True Focus on Social Media

    The biggest problem with keeping your social media efforts in-house is the lack of dedication to the cause. You’ll never be able to devote the proper time to social media if you’re trying to keep your business afloat, and your marketing department will probably resent the time they have to spend doing something secondary to their main duties. A social media manager can come in and dedicate him or herself to the job completely, and they’re also able to engage with your followers and fans in real-time, making your business more well-known and well-liked in public.

 

Finding the Ideal Social Media Manager

Finding the Ideal Social Media ManagerThere are a number of places you can look if you want to hire a social media manager for your company. However, you should focus on finding someone who is ready to jump in and get started helping you immediately. There are a couple of great options if you want to do this:

  1. Use the services of a company that specializes in content and social media
  2. Look for the savviest (and most cost-effective) candidates coming out of college

Option one is a terrific choice if you’re unable or unwilling to bring a new person on board. This can save you money, and you can guarantee that you’ll be getting solid, dependable results. One drawback, though, is that the individuals charged with managing your social media won’t be completely dedicated to your company. However, the perspective that they can provide from their experiences working with other organizations can be incredibly valuable.

If you’re ready to bring a new person into your organization, you should consider option two. Colleges and universities have recognized the power of social media, and they are adjusting their courses so that interested students can focus on it.

In addition to the social media education they receive, college students and graduates simply use tools like Twitter, Facebook and others more than the average person, so they are always aware of current trends and techniques.

If you’ve decided that you want to hire somebody through a university, look for candidates who possess the following qualities:

  • A major in communications, PR, journalism or any other similar field
  • A friendly disposition that will allow them to represent your company well, regardless of work or life stress
  • A genuine interest in your company, its products and its clients
  • Fantastic writing skills
  • Tremendous enthusiasm for social media

Moving ForwardGoing Forward

Whether you decide to hire a social media manager through a university, you enlist the services of another company or you decide to go some other route, you simply can’t deny the importance of a dedicated manager for your efforts. It may seem like a lot of work hiring someone and entrusting them with the keys to your profiles, but it will pay off in the form of increased buzz about your brand. Social media is here to stay, and those companies that invest in it are the ones that are going to stick around for a while.

 

Do you have any other thoughts about hiring a social media manager for your business? Have you had any interesting experiences with the process? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

7 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation

social media lead generationSocial media serves as a great tool in most areas of marketing, but many entrepreneurs and marketers find it falls flat when it comes to lead generation. While much of that boils down to common lead generation blunders, the other part of it boils down to social media users not knowing how to reel in new customers through these platforms.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of powerful ways you can employ social media channels to become a lead magnet. In this post, we look at seven of them.

1. Listen to Relevant Conversations

Use a social media monitoring tool like HootSuite to set up alerts for your brand name, competitors, products, and industry related topics. You can then monitor these streams to identify influencers you should build relationships with, questions you can answer, and problems you can solve. You never know when reaching out to help a stranger will turn into a valuable lead.

2. Take Your Virtual Communication Offline

Sometimes target prospects don’t want to connect via social media. They need that personal touch—the phone conversation or face-to-face meeting that wins their trust. You’re missing a valuable opportunity if you haven’t yet made your offline contact details available on your networking profiles. Set up a schedule of posts to let your audience know the value of connecting with you in the real world.

3. Leverage Social Ads

If there are funds in your budget, consider paid advertising options on social media platforms. Promoted content on Facebook, self-serve CPC ads on LinkedIn, or sponsored Tweets on Twitter can go a long way to increasing exposure for your brand, driving traffic, and generating leads. To get the most out of your social ads make certain you use a strong call to action, a dedicated landing page designed for high conversions, and ad targeting options that ensure you reach a high-quality audience.

Tweet free eBook offering4. Use Free Offerings

Promoting free eBooks, guides, white papers, and other branded materials via social media is an excellent tactic that should form part of every good lead generation program. Make sure the link you post along with your promotional snippet directs users to a compelling landing page with a lead capture form.

5. Create Promotions

Contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, discounts, and other promotions offer a highly effective way to engage fans, increase social conversions, and accumulate qualified leads. The bonus is that contest entries will provide a pool of unique, user-generated content you can use for future marketing communications. Make sure you explore all the options available through the social platform you’re using and that you abide by any contest hosting guidelines the site has set.

6. Participate In Twitter Chats, LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Hangouts

A huge part of using social media for lead generation requires you to interact with your audience. If you’re not putting yourself in front of your target market, engaging in meaningful conversations, and building authority, then you shouldn’t expect to run a successful lead generation program.

Google+ Hangouts, Twitter Chats, and LinkedIn Groups are three of the most powerful features you can use to engage relevant communities. As you participate, be sure to identify potential leads and search for opportunities to connect with them. Answer their questions in public, and then follow up with a private message. Whatever you do, get to know the ins and outs of these tools and how you can use them to build strong, long-lasting relationships with qualified prospects.

7. Encourage Social Sharing

Social sharing buttons for lead generation

Easier said than done, right? The first things you want to look at are ways to increase the virality of your content. When you create pieces that compel people to share with their networks, you effectively amplify your brand’s exposure, boost traffic, and improve your potential to generate leads.

The next thing you want to do is ensure you provide an opportunity to share. Make sure you embed social sharing buttons into your free offerings so readers can quickly and conveniently share snippets of valuable information and a link to the relevant landing page.

Once you start to generate leads through social media, it’s imperative to evaluate and measure your results. Figure out which traffic sources, social media channels, and types of content deliver the highest number of page views. Assess the keywords visitors use, as well as the content they see, before they convert to leads. When you start to understand the conversion path people take, you’ll be able to tie your lead generation efforts with your lead nurturing plan.

How are you using social media for lead generation? We’d love to hear your top tips so drop us a line in the comment section. 

Social Media Engagement Metrics That Matter

DislikeYour fan page has 5,607 likes? So what. You increased traffic to your website by 25% last month? Yawn. Many online marketers get excited about these metrics, and I’d bet those same individuals won’t hold their jobs for very long. Is getting followers to a social media account important? Yes. Do you want them visiting your website? Of course. These aren’t the end goals,though. Social media is a channel like television or radio or print. Getting your audience to pay attention is the first obstacle; getting them engaged so that they will buy from you is the ultimate goal.

 

Facebook’s Social Engagement Metrics

 

Facebook is so popular it’s not even funny. Virtually every commercial to every pizza box to every store front window has some kind of reference to a presence on the social media network. Getting likes is great, but there are some other metrics that marketers should be paying closer attention to.

Talking about this

Weekly reach on FacebookIf you run a fan page, you may have noticed this metric conspicuously floating next to the number of likes on your page. Facebook defines this as any time someone creates a story in their timeline by sharing, commenting, liking or responding to a post or comment of yours.

The basic theory here is that all the people connected to your business’ page are also connected to the pages of others. When they interact with your content, they also show that content to those they are connected with, thereby exposing your business to more people.

A secondary benefit (or perhaps the primary one) is that a follower has engaged with your brand. They have reached out and participated willingly in a conversation with your business.

When marketing with Facebook, your success must necessarily be measured by whether or not you accomplished your goals. In many cases, you are much more likely to accomplish your goals if you are getting followers to engage with your business.

 

Important Metrics on Twitter

 

Favorites, Retweets and Replies

Each network has its own name for engagement, but the name of the game is still pretty much the same. On Twitter, getting followers is great, but getting people to share your content is way better. This comes in the form of favorites, retweets and replies.

When you send out a tweet, a good strategy is to get someone with a lot of followers to retweet it. Once they do that, everyone who is following them sees the content that you have published. To a lesser extent, getting someone to favorite a tweet gets it a little more attention.

Having someone reply to a tweet is also a sign that they want to engage with your brand. Say you post a tweet about a recent blog post on your website and share a link in the tweet, as well. If you can get others talking about it by replying to your tweet, you are more likely to be seen by their followers, and you are also engaging in conversation with a member of your target market.

 

Converting your Followers

Converting Prospects

 

No matter which network you are active on, you must have a way to track your business success. This means tagging links or having specialized campaigns. Using tools like HubSpot can help you track those visitors who just came to your site for a peek, and those who actually made a purchase.

With tools like these, you can see if Jane Doe who commented on your shared link clicked through to your website and completed a conversion funnel. Using tools like Google Analytics or even built-in social analytics, you can tell which posts received the most engagement and which did not.

In your quest for thousands of followers, don’t forget the next pieces to the puzzle. Yes, gaining followers is an important piece because without followers, no one will see the content you post. Once you have the followers, though, the next step is getting them to engage with your brand and hopefully buy from you.

 

Have you been guilty of focusing too much on the wrong metrics in social media marketing? What eventually made you change your thinking? Let us know by dropping a line or leaving a comment below.

Google Plus Circles 101 with Chris Dreyer

chrisChris Dreyer of AttorneyRankings.org was kind enough to share some of his strategies for success on curating Google Plus Circles. Whether you are growing a personal or professional network, or maybe using G+ for business, these tips should help you grow your following and get some good engagement.

Q: I’ve heard that Google Plus is not a very active social network for business. Is that true?

A: Several months ago I might have agreed with you, but it seems that with the new dashboard changes and how important Google authorship has become for search visibility, that is no longer the case. Google Plus is being used by more and more individuals every day. It is a very active community.

Q: If I just share content all the time, will people start putting me in circles?

A: It depends upon if you are sharing content on your website that already receives a substantial amount of traffic. If you are in very few circles and those circles aren’t active, then you are going to have a very difficult time building your circles. It’s best if you have an email contact list to import. It’s not 100% necessary, but having this initial group to market to will really help you expand in the beginning.

Google Plus LogoQ: Do I have to comment on posts every day in order to get people to put me in circles?

A: No. You do not have comment or +1 every day in order to get people to put you in circles. Like all of the social networks, the more you engage with your circles, the more they will reciprocate and also engage with the content you share. The best way to stand out is to share niche-specific content that is interesting to your circles. Be selective on how often, when and what you share.

Q: Is there anything I can do off of Google Plus to increase my following?

A: There are a ton of things you can do:

  • +1 Interesting posts
  • Re share Interesting posts
  • Add circles often
  • Re share circles of engagers
  • Create hangouts
  • Join communities
  • Leverage other social media platforms (i.e Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Add Google authorship
  • Add Google Plus follow badges on your website
  • Create Google Plus calls-to-action in your website content
  • Use social share icons for your content

other social networksA tactic I like to use for my niche (attorneys) is to identify related communities, agencies and law firm,s and add their lawyer profile circles. You can then actively engage with +1’s, shares and comments to get them to reciprocate and add you to their circles.

Q: How long does it take to start getting a lot of followers on Google Plus?

A: Not long. I started heavily using Google+ in the last few months. In fact, about two weeks ago, I was in around 600 circles. Now my personal account has nearly 1,500. So by actively using G+ in just two weeks, I added 900 more circles to my account. There is a link to my profile at the bottom of this interview to confirm what I stated.

Q: I’ve been interacting with other people’s content on Google Plus and sharing my own content, but no one is putting me in Circles, what gives?

Plus one contentA: It takes time, but if you continue to engage with +1’s, sharing and adding your own content, you will see your circles increase. In the beginning, you will be added to circles slowly, but there is a domino effect that happens with consistent engagement. You will be remembered, and many of the users will reciprocate and add you to their circles.

Q: How would I use communities to grow my following on Google Plus?

A: Communities are an amazing place to market to on Google Plus because they have already established memberships. They already have a group of people to market to and are interested in the same topics as you. Each community has a different set of rules you must follow in order to participate. Read the rules first, and then enjoy.

Q: How would I use hangouts to grow my following on Google Plus?

A: I have to be honest. I am no pro at utilizing hangouts for Google Plus. What I can tell you is hangouts are another great way to engage with your circles on an even more personal level. Sometimes written content and inflection gets misinterpreted and interferes with status posts. With video hangouts, you can clarify information in real time. These hangouts can also become amazing content to share for your status updates. Not to mention those that participate in the hangouts with yourself will frequently share the content to their circles. They can be a great way to extend your social reach to new circles.

Q: Are there any books, guides or blogs that you would recommend for growing my following?

A: Christine DeGraff is putting out a lot of interesting content on how to get more circles. I highly recommend you check out her profile to see what she’s doing. Otherwise, you just need to participate on Google+ by engaging with other users.

Check out Chris Dreyer’s G+ profile for yourself.  He’s grown quite the network, and it’s building every day. Chris is also the president and founder of AttorneyRankings.org, the web’s premiere online marketing destination for attorneys.

 

What are your thoughts on Google Plus and being added to more circles? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or dropping a line.

Tracking Social Media Campaigns in Google Analytics

Measuring social campaignsBeing active in social media as a business isn’t just about having a flashy profile and driving up the number of followers you have. It’s about making money. Sure, there may be other goals, but ultimately, businesses do things to make more money. It’s known that you can do that on any social media account, but how do you track your progress? Check out our tips for tracking social media campaigns using Google Analytics.

 

URL Tagging Your Campaign

 

You can always see referral traffic from social media websites in your Analytics reports, but you won’t be able to determine what links traffic came from. For instance, you may share links to blog posts on Facebook every week, and you may see traffic from Facebook in your reports, but you have no way of knowing which links (blog posts) generated more interest in your website. The same is true if you share links to pages on your website that contain special offers or any other links that you share leading to your website.

URL tagging works by allowing you to assign parameters to URLs from your website resulting in a new URL to use for your campaign. When visits occur as a result of that URL, the parameters that you define show up in reports and are much easier to track to conversions. Note that you must have Google Analytics installed on your site in order to utilize URL tagging.

Google provides a URL builder that makes it easy to insert parameters into your URLs. You can find it here.

You must enter values for at least the campaign source, medium and name. Keep in mind that these can be anything that you want them to be, but use values that will be both descriptive and easily recognizable in reports later on when you are analyzing data.

Google URL Builder

 

Setting up Goals and Events

Viewing goals in Google Analytics reports screenshot

 

Instead of tagging URLs, you can use goals and campaign-specific landing pages to track social media marketing success. Once you get people to your site, you have to set up a way to track what they are doing. In Google Analytics, you can see referrals and visitors if you have the tracking code installed; however, when you are tracking specific campaigns, you need a way to filter out the data you don’t need.

Goals

You can track both pageviews and events using goals in analytics. It used to be that events were not a feature of goals and had to be tracked separately.  Now that they are, there is no need to look at different reports to find out if visitors took a specific action on your website. 

We’ve covered setting up goals before, so we won’t do it here, but there are a variety of benefits to tracking your campaigns in this manner. You can learn about setting up event tracking here.

  • Only data related to your campaign is aggregated in a report
  • You can specify rules for your goals so that visitors who come in through some other path are not counted
  • You can make a URL destination a goal or something that doesn’t generate a pageview, like a video playing or the click-on-a-button that goes to an external shopping cart
  • You can easily determine the ROI of a campaign using goals

That last point is possibly the most important. You can make the confirmation page of a product purchase, a service signup, a quote generated or a button-clicked the trigger for your goal. You then know without a doubt that someone who clicked on a link you shared on Facebook, landed on the page that begins your conversion funnel, and eventually made it through the process to buy.

Social Sources

Social SourcesSocial traffic sources reports in Google Analytics shows you data related to the social web and how it impacts your website. Here you can view a broader picture of how social networks are contributing to your overall website traffic.

For example, you can see what networks are already sending you a lot of traffic, which ones assisted or directly contributed to conversions, what landing pages received the most referral traffic from social websites and a lot of other data.

Using these reports, you can see which networks are of high value to your business. Perhaps there is a network you weren’t active on before that is sending you a lot of traffic. Maybe you see that out of all the networks you are active on, only a couple of them bring any real value to your business.

You can view social sources reports under traffic sources -> social.

It’s super easy to track social campaigns using Google Analytics. You can either tag URLs so that you can easily see how traffic is being referred and where it is going on your website, or you can set up goals. Tracking social campaigns is the first step to determining the ROI of your social efforts.

What methods do you use to track social media campaigns? Let us know by dropping a line or leaving a comment below.

 

Social Media Trends for 2013: Part 2

In Part 1 of our Social Media Trends post, we talked about some things happening with social media in 2013. In this post, we will expand on that and talk about a few more broad trends that are taking place.

Tracking Success

Social engagement metricsIn HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing report for 2013, it was highlighted again and again how marketers this year are working to figure out an ROI for their efforts. I see this happening a lot with social media, as well. As more businesses want to get involved because of all the hype surrounding social media, many are asking, “how will this help my business?” They often want that answered using empirical data and not fuzzy logic.

As a result, agencies and in-house marketers are focusing on the analytics provided by social platforms as well as third-party tools for measuring how their content is impacting the bottom line of their clients or their companies. HubSpot’s tracking platform is one such tool that allows you to track social interactions right back to the moment someone made a purchase. Tools like Viral Content Buzz help marketers spread and track the success of their content across the web.

Being More Active

According to a survey done by Social Media Examiner, 67% of marketers plan to increase their Twitter activities this year. This isn’t just limited to Twitter. Business owners, marketers, individuals and any other person or entity leveraging social media realizes that just having an account and posting content is not enough to be successful and grow a network. You have to be present.

This reminds me of being in school when there would be someone in class sleeping and the teacher would mark that person absent. When the person protested saying that they were in the room, the teacher would say, “your body is here, but your mind is absent.” The same principle applies on social media. Newcomers and even some veterans to the technology of social media realize that they need to have an active participation or it is just a waste of time and resources.

Getting Serious About an Online Brand

Building an Online BrandI still see it happening today, but it occurred more so a few years back: businesses leaving their social-media presence to inexperienced people. It happens less often today because businesses are starting to realize the power that social media has, as well as seeing the missteps of other companies in relation to an online presence. Job listings for these sorts of jobs are starting to require college degrees in Public Relations or Journalism. If a business can’t get that, they are looking for people with years of experience and a portfolio to prove it.

It’s probably safe to say that in the near future, interaction on these networks will become prolific enough that a business wouldn’t dare leave ownership of it in the hands of an intern or someone who has no idea what they are doing. We might even see entire degree programs reshaped to accommodate teaching people how to build a brand on these networks.

Mob Mentality

CrowdThere is nothing new about people receiving their news on social media. I first learned of the Boston Bombing via Twitter, and frequently see news stories repeated on my local evening channels that I’ve already read about on Facebook earlier in the day.

Along with this is a disturbing trend where people are being social media vigilantes or creating a mob mentality via social networks. A prime example is all the misinformation floating around after the bombing that happened in Boston. The combination of a world full of smartphones with high-quality cameras and the ability to disseminate content to thousands or even millions of people with the click of a button has made it easy for misinformation to spread like wildfire.

As it relates to business, it can be very damaging if and when there are inaccurate perceptions about a brand being perpetuated on social media. Half-truths or untruths can become real stories in no time at all, and there doesn’t really seem to be a mechanism in place to stop things like this from happening other than our own rationale, thoughts and common sense.

What trends do you see in social media for the rest of 2013? How will you be taking advantage of them for your business or your clients? Join in the conversation by commenting below.