Key Questions to Ask Before Getting Started with Social Media

MarketingXLerator
Natascha Thomson Owner/Partner, MarketingXLerator

Posted on November 29th 2012

Key Questions to Ask Before Getting Started with Social Media

As a social media professional, I get many questions from clients and friends who are new to social media and would like to add social media to their marketing mix.

The learning curve on social media is still steep for most people, and in this post, I have aggregated the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Many of my consulting engagements start with the sentence "We need to have a Twitter handle" or "I need to increase the number of fans for our Facebook page".  

The answer to these questions: "Why"? and ,"Let's take a step back".

Before you get engaged in any kind of social media project, please ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are my social media objectives (these should align with your marketing, and on a higher level, your business objectives)?

  • Maybe you are trying to create awareness for a product offering?
  • Maybe you want to extend the reach of an event beyond a physical location?
  • Maybe you are tasked to generate leads?
  • Maybe...(fill in here)

2. Who is my target audience?

  • I struggle with the answer "anybody who might want to buy my product". Keep in mind that the less homogenous your target audience is, the more high level your messages will have to be. The more targeted you can get, the better you can address specific business problems.
  • Or in simpler terms, if you are a B2B social media marketer and somebody sent you a Tweet about "The top 10 ways to create a lead", you'd be somewhat interested. But if they sent you a Tweet saying: "10 tips how social media can be used to create leads that close", you'd be very interested. On a busy day, you might click on the Bit.ly on Tweet number two but ignore Tweet number one.
  • An example target audience could be: Retail, IT management, North America.

3. Where does my target audience participate in social media?

  • It is a fallacy to think that "if you build a social media channel, they will come".
  • I've only recently learned that Global 2000 companies in Finland are not very active on Twitter - neither in Denmark -  but they like to engage on LinkedIn. Hence, for every target audience you define, you need to do research where they lurk (= read) or engage (= comment, ask questions etc.). Your audience might frequent existing communities like IT Toolbox or read blogs on CIO.com. Wherever they are, that's where you want to be.
  • Of course, you can also create your own social media channels on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc., but remember that you'll need to dedicate resources to manage these channels continuously. The only thing worse than no presence on social media is a social media channel where the last post is a month old.

Once you have answered these basic but often not easy to answer questions, you will need to develop an editorial calendar to feed the channels you have selected and define a cadence (e.g. blog once a week).

You'll also need to define metrics to measure your success. For example, if your target audience likes to read blogs, you can measure views and comments on your blog. But you can also measure things like click-throughs to media (e.g. YouTube videos) embedded in your blog, referrals back to your web site, or the completion of a registration form; to only name a few.

I hope you found this blog useful, and I'd appreciate it if you could add your own "most asked" social media challenge or question and how you have addressed them to the comment section of this blog.


Read this blog to find out How to separate Social MEdia Marketing Fact from Fiction.

MarketingXLerator

Natascha Thomson

Owner/Partner, MarketingXLerator

Natascha Thomson is the owner & founder of MarketingXLerator - a B2B Social Media Marketing Consultancy – with a focus on using social media to connect people for business. She is also a co-author of the book 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing and a passionate yogini.

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Comments

Hi Natascha ! Very Good Post !!

Not always for Social Media , for evrything, we have to do questions ,when we start something also !.. :)

The Main Question is and Agree With YOU 100%  What are my social media objectives.

Probably after many things we can find the best way....and You know who's give us the way ?Is asking also to others leaders in SM and what kind of the customers we need or we want help !

I'm spanish native , I mean my first language is Spanish, a day ,I asked Brian Solis ,about wich language is best for me in SM , because I live in Boston , and He told me via Tweet, "try in both , but  the Spanish for You is tremendous oportunity.,"

And Now I'm slowly changing my tendency..no all, but a little bit !

I always knew, if you do not ask yourself or a leader, you'll never know the answers.

Ask, Ask and Ask!

Very Nice Post !

Best

Juan Carlos

Juan Carlos:

especially ask yourself. And if you ask a so called "leader", double-check if you agree and it is the right path for you.

There is so much content available via Google these days that if you educate yourself, you can do a very good job yourself.

In terms of the language, I think it depends on your target audience. Is the Hispanic market your target? I, personally, don't think it's good to mix languages on a single Twitter handle.

I speak German and English. If I Tweeted in German, the majority of my followers would be at a loss and possibly unfollow me, as they would consider the German Tweets spam.


Brian has a good point, that there might be a Spanish-speaking market that is not covered (enough) and that would give you an edge.

I like questions too. I read that Jack Walsh of GE was annoyed once when he hired Peter Drucker to consult for him. Peter kept asking him questions. Later on, Jack realized that Peter did him a great service by not giving him answers but making him think about what he should do. Of course, Peter knew the right questions to ask.


Best,

Natascha

Hi Natascha, agree with you. Basically, we need to start with a goal, without a goal, we don't have clear direction where we go.

Kent:

 

nice to see you took the time to comment; the blogger's reward :-).


Read this quote from Zig Ziglar yesterday (may he rest in peace):
"If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time."


More Zig Ziglar quotes via Hupspot.

Best,

Natascha

Yeah, such a great loss. RIP Zig Ziglar

Natascha, can't agree more. Purpose and strategy must be in place before you take any action. Sad to see some not-so-honest marketing agencies building the hype around social media marketing just to lure the clients in. I saw one agency write a post on "why you should hire a social media manager" and they listed "because everyone else is doing it" as a ligitimate reason - unbelievable!

Elena:


I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my blog.


Fully agree! I have lost business for telling people they should focus on other marketing activities first before they get into social media (especially figuring out their goals and messaging/positioning). Not everybody has to be on social. It's worse to do it poorly than not at all.

Having said that, I think every business needs to listen to what is being said about them online; possibly even respond if required (that could happen off-line in some cases). Simply looking your business up on Google every day is a good first step; supplement that with Google Alerts on your company, key products, and main topics and you are doing pretty well already.  Not everybody can afford a listening solution and most of the free tool seem to go pay or freemium...


Warm regards,


Natascha

Couldn't not agree with this more Natasha

At my company I work for we decided to use Social Media in our overall marketing mix. We asked ourself 'What are we trying to achieve' with this process. Our answer was to generate leads online. Hara! This can be done with Social Media to great affect, but we had a problem, our website wasn't optimised for lead generation ( i.e poor content, no Call to Actions and no contact forms). We addressed this problem first, then we focused on our Social Media activities. Without asking the question what we were trying to achieve, we would have spend so much time and effort (and indirect costs) pushing traffic to a website that had no value to us, or our clients. 

By asking ourselfs what we wanted to achive it also helped open our minds to our target audience, helping us understand where they are online and also what type of content they value. Allowing us to be far more focussed with our strategy.

It's a shame how many people jump into Social Media Marketing blind, see no affect and label it useless. Just like any aspect of business, finance, recruitment, mangagement and traditional marketing, you must have goals, have a strategy to reach those goals, implement, measure, adjust and then reapeat. Simple! Well maybe not simple but at least there's a plan.

Anway thanks for the great article,

Stephen Tamlin

Amen, Stephen! :-)


Natascha

Make sure to define a target audience for your social media profiles.  It will make it easier to decide what to post and how to engage your followers.

Qnary:

wise words.

Sometimes, if there are multiple target audiences that don't overlap, once social channel won't work to satisfy all!


Best,

Natascha