Social Media Marketing: So much noise. so little time. where should you start?

You need to know your company's voice. Get to the bottom of your brand and how it should sound online to attract your customers, your clients, and your brand enthusiasts.

For those of us who spend too much time online, we know one thing is very clear, there's a lot of noise. Breaking through all of the advice that's thrown in your face as you try to find where you and your company belong here is exhausting. I'm here to tell you that most of it doesn't apply to you anyway and, if you got advice that's helpful, it's probably not in the order you think it is should be for your business.

People hear social media buzz words and they think they have cracked the code to fixing their online presence problem. We know everyone wants a quick fix and as internet law states, if you see something somewhere (anywhere) here it must then be true. If this year's election taught us anything it's that if you repeat it enough, I guess that makes it factual information? *SIGH* Look, you're great at your job, enough to go into business for yourself in your field, THAT'S INCREDIBLE. You've also at some point in your career likely smirked or deeply sighed when someone who doesn't know what you do tries to tell you all about your skill set. Sooooo here's the deal: I'm great at what I do, so let me tell you how completely ridiculous it all sounds to me in my field when people tell me all they need is an SEO expert and a viral post. I'm here to tell you that social media, unless you're a big brand with a big budget, is a lot of work. IT'S NOT DIFFICULT WORK (as so many will have you believe), but it is time consuming, continuous, and all about customer service (which may not be something you actually have time in your life for when you are oh so busy doing what it is YOU are good at). You might be thinking it's time to let someone else give you a head start or take the reigns entirely for you. but that's a conversation for another post or between you and me directly. Today I am going to write about how not to waste your time thinking you need to spread your effort equally EVERYWHERE online. It starts with finding out who is really going to be your main audience online and figuring out how you talk to them in a way that grabs their attention.

Take a deep breath. Time to evaluate who your company is online.

No matter what your business is about, It's time to evaluate what it is you're good at again with new purpose. Who are you as a brand? Take a deep breath or, if you're me, pour a glass of wine (a big one) and think about what your brand's voice sounds like. What does it sound like to you in your head? Can you hear it? Pro Tip: If you're hearing multiple voices, consider seeing a doctor. if you hear something akin to your own version of Mr. Moviefone in your head you might be on the right track.

Sometimes we know exactly what we want our message to be, but by the time we open our mouth or open WordPress... it's gone like the wind. Even if we know exactly what we want to say, we are time strapped in trying to get that across in text, video, or even to another person to speak on our behalf. Hey, it's not like posting a status update on Facebook that could make a few aunts and uncles roll their eyes. This is your lively-hood and you can't apologize as easily after the fact. It's a huge deal and it's incredibly important you get it right. I think you get that. All the more reason not to rush to posting until you got that brand message clear and uniform across all future posts. 

You want brand consistency across all platforms and you want it to be real to who you are, real to who your business is, and something you know is going to hit home with your customer base. No matter what you're selling (you, a product, a service) this step is the most important before hitting publish. This deep breath (wine optional) moment of reflection is to examine what you think your company's tone already is or should be.

What is your company all about?

Who is your company all about?

Who do you want to grab the attention of the most?

You need a target. And get specific. REAL SPECIFIC. Sure, you want everyone and their grandmother's best friend at Bingo to follow your company's pages, but it's not where you want to start. Specifics are everything. Then we can customize your brand to your most important audience and go from there. You need to know how to speak to them, so lets break that down.

Lets take imaginary Susie and her friendship bracelet company, "Lady-Bud-Beads" (I've had some wine. That is a terrible company name but I want to get to the beef of this post before my daughter wakes up). Susie knows she got the idea from turning her passion into a company on Instagram. She knows there might be more untapped members of her tribe there, but she is not quite sure how to find them. Before I could ever recommend to Susie that she dives in and sets up shop immediately on IG, she needs to figure out who she is and who is going to want to click through Instagram posts of rainbow friendship beads THE MOST and buy them for themselves and all their best lady-buds (just awful, ANYWAY moving on).

What would I tell Susie to do next? I'd tell Susie to make some lists. What self respecting friendship bracelet lady doesn't love making lists? Maybe invite some friends over whose opinions she values and ask for some honesty while they... I don't know, braid each other hair and drink cocoa.

One list should be all about why she wants to spend her free time making beaded necklaces and what appeals to her the most about it. Why it's good for her and for others and why she thinks her product is like no other bead company online. I'd ask her: What makes her different? What makes her brand unique?

Then I'd have her start a second list of who she thinks would actually buy these beads in order of most likely or perhaps most important for her brand image. For all we know, she wants her beads to land on Kim Karadashian's daughter's wrist. I mean, that's pretty specific and I did say, specifics are everything when it comes to starting your online strategy, as audacious as they might be. Susie's got her target audience figured out.

Now Susie has finished these two lists. This is a great start. I'd sit down with Susie and discuss if those two lists still reflected her company's brand after sleeping on it. Is there anything she would change before taking the next step. Lets assume she knew EXACTLY why she rocked, what made her stand out from the crowd and 100% wanted to be on Kim Karadashian's daughter and all her bffs' wrists. Now we have something to work with.

The next list I would have Susie make is one we might not all have enough time to do the research on. That's where Firefly Social could come in and handle it for you or coach you through the process. It's time to get to know her target market a little more intimately. Starting perhaps with a list of all trending hashtags and cross promotional brands that relate to friendship beads and the ones holding the wallet ready to buy her bracelets.

I'd breakdown those categories into different classifications of directly related products and ones that could have cross promotional purposes. In Susie's case, that list might start to look like:

Fashion
Fashion [Accessories, Bag]
Fashion [Accessories, Hat]
Fashion [Accessories, Sunglasses]
Fashion [Accessories]
Fashion [Adjective]
Fashion [Blogger]
Fashion [Currently Wearing]

And looking at trendsetters and fashion leaders on Instagram (her target market) and identifying what kind of products they are interested in sharing with their thousands of followers.

Susie or someone on Susie's behalf needs to think about:

Do they have a larger network they share within?

How does she break into that circle?

What areas does Susie need to focus on first?

Is it stylistic photos of her bead and catchy brand voice?

Is it perhaps sending beads to these fashion influencers?

How do those images and CTA (call to actions) look in her market? Should her brand voice be similar, in tone or completely unique?

It's time for Susie to research not just her target audience but the way in which they share products of a similar nature. Susie needs to figure out how she can get re-posted and her product's voice to these trendsetting bead loving fashionistas. Once we answer these questions, It's time to create a strategy for Susie and her new bead company that's all her own that will put her on the map.

And my daughter is awake. GOODBYE BLOG, until next time... 

Cheers,

Christie St. Martin 

Chief Firefly Catcher