Social media has much to offer, but free services can only get you so far. If you truly want to get the most out of your time and money, consider the following suggestions to plan your social media budget for positive returns in the upcoming year.
Invest first and foremost in a social media marketing strategy. This strategy may be your biggest investment, especially if you need to pitch the marketing idea further up the corporate chain. With all the different and expanding aspects of social media, your company cannot afford not to have a marketing strategy. Consider spending a portion of your marketing budget on:
- Social media consultant: This person preferably has a communications background and an in-depth knowledge of social media tools and how to use them effectively.
- Social media marketing agency: This is an organization of specialists that focus on involving brand advocates and managing online communities and company promotions.
- Internal social media manager: This person makes sure that your own team understands the company’s social media program.
- Affiliate Marketing: Pay per click and SEO strategies are aimed at increasing your online effectiveness and boosting your conversion rate. If done right, these can be the game changers for your company.
Creating a solid strategy will also help if any reactive efforts are needed, as was the case with Domino's Pizza in 2011. Although they were active with social media, two employees making a disturbing video and posting it on YouTube immediately put them in in a very tough situation. Quick action fro their CEO saved the company, and helped inspire a rebranding effort.
Decide to continually generate compelling content. Content takes priority in all aspects of social media, from design to marketing. As you would look for experts for creating a social media strategy, look for people who specialize in social media management for content development. These professionals will make sure your content is engaging, targets search keywords to optimize your SEO and represents your brand.Vivint Home Security in Phoenix, Arizona, for example, was able to use content through social media to engage potential customers and determine if expansion was possible into a new market. Results like this happen all the time to marketers who are aware of their audiences and are knowledgeable of the tools available to them. Through simple methods like this, valuable partnerships can be established and reputations built, often with little budget spent.
Writers, designers and even video producers can create your social media content. These positions can be filled internally or outsourced. Developing content can be expensive but, if done well, can also deliver a high ROI. Engaging social media marketing content includes:
Blogging: Try to post at least three new and interesting articles each week.
Infographics and illustrations: These types of images breathe life into written content.
Online videos: Professionally made videos are more appealing than home videos.
Whitepapers: These guides will help users understand certain issues, solve problems or make decisions pertaining to doing business with your company.
Podcasts: This feature appeals to those who want to listen to content while working on other tasks.
Professional photography: Images of products and live events significantly enhance content.
Recorded webinars and webcasts: Users will appreciate the effort of your company reaching out in this way, and they can view these tools at their convenience.
Management and Monitoring Tools
Social media management has almost too many aspects to handle alone. Through social monitoring, companies can see what consumers are saying about their products. Monitoring is a huge aspect of your company’s social media success and is an essential investment. Similar to a home security system, these tools can help you:
Observe activity on different accounts
Set-up and manage multiple channels
Create and deliver content creation and delivery
Plan content topics
Become more visible to consumers
Organize campaign outreach
Although the social media channels provide some of their own support and reporting, other specialized management tools can more finely tune your monitoring. Most companies can handle a minimal investment such as a social media dashboard. However, especially large companies can expect to invest thousands of dollars each month to manage their campaigns and social inventory.
As social media is constantly evolving, your social media budget and strategy must also evolve. Developing quality content, monitoring activity and being genuine in your social media efforts will draw more customers to your company and increase overall business.