Oct 9, 2020

How to develop an effective social media strategy

Social Media
Strategy
Digital
Georgia Wilson
6 min
Social Media
Business Chief takes a look at how organisations can develop an effective social media strategy, and the benefits of having one...

 According to Deloitte, every minute over 4mn people in the world ‘like’ a post on Facebook, more than 1.5mn on Instagram and 350,000 on Twitter. Combine these figures with the continuously advancing capabilities of smart technology and connectivity, along with the development of 5G, and social media channels are increasingly becoming a point of contact for customers and brands. “To meet these expectations, companies must adapt to the requirements of clients and adjust their social communication to current trends. If they fail to do so, consumers will simply enter into a dialogue with another brand,” says Deloitte.

Why develop a social media strategy?

There are many reasons why organisations should develop a social media strategy. The channels are not just for posting; they are also a useful platform to drive advertising, marketing, communication and sales.

In its report, Deloitte details that a dedicated social strategy will allow organisations to:

  • Plan content
  • Develop and maintain a brand identity, as well as distinguish that identity from potential competitors
  • React to potential crises 
  • Increase competitor visibility 
  • Build customer loyalty

How to build a social media strategy

Deloitte and Hootsuite highlight a few key elements for building a social media strategy.

Aligning the strategy with the overall business goal

Whether an organisation's goal is to improve customer support or drive sales via marketing, Hootsuite explains that “the first step to creating a winning strategy is to establish your objectives and goals. Without goals, you have no way to measure success and return on investment (ROI).” 

The best way to achieve this is by establishing S.M.A.R.T goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time sensitive.

Understanding the audience and the competition

When implementing a social media strategy it is important to use the data available, as “knowing who your audience is and what they want to see on social media is key,” notes Hootsuite. While many would believe Facebook is ideal for reaching Baby Boomers, Hootsuite reports that there are more millennials than Baby Boomers on the platform. Therefore, understanding who is using what platform and what they want to see is vital for an effective strategy.

While each platform has its own rules, Deloitte highlights that it is also important to have coherence on every platform, avoiding discrepancies. “Regardless of whether the client is calling the hotline, contacting via the form on the website, writing a letter or making a phone call to Messenger, the message must be coherent.”

Part of developing a social media strategy should also involve competitor analysis. Hootsuite explains that this is an easy way to identify what works and what doesn’t on social media for a given sector. 

Maintaining regular communication for each platform

Having a social media presence brings a certain level of responsibility as an organisation. In Deloitte’s report, the company stresses the importance of not neglecting an account. “Lack of regularity will give the impression of a lack of professionalism and can be taken as a disregard for its own clients.” Both Deloitte and Hootsuite explain that a content calendar can help maintain regular publishing. 

Evaluating and adjusting the strategy

Once a strategy is developed and implementation begins, it is vital that organisations track and analyse the results of the strategy. Hootsuite highlights that “you can’t assume you’ll get it exactly right on the first try. As you start to implement your plan and track your results, you may find that some strategies don’t work as well as you’d anticipated, while others are working even better than expected.” As a result it is important to analyse, re-evaluate, test and refine the strategy based on the outcome.

The top benefits of developing an effective social media strategy

Brand awareness, brand loyalty and brand authority

Blue Fountain Media, a digital marketing agency in New York, explains that social media is one of the most cost-efficient digital marketing methods to increase a brand’s visibility. “Implementing a social media strategy will greatly increase your brand recognition since you will be engaging with a broad audience of consumers.” 

The agency reports that by investing only a few hours per week, 91% of marketers said that their social marketing efforts significantly increased their exposure.

Brand loyalty, brand authority and customer satisfaction are typically intertwined. As such, the importance of regular engagement with customers and developing a bond is crucial. “Social media is not just limited to introducing your brand's products and promotional campaigns. Customers see these platforms as a service channel where they can communicate directly with the business”, says Blue Fountain Media. It also adds that “regularly interacting with customers demonstrates that your business cares about customer satisfaction, and is available to answer any questions that they might have. Satisfied customers are eager to spread the word about a great product or service and they usually turn to social media to express their opinion.”

Increased traffic and improved SEO ranking

By harnessing social media platforms, organisations can expand their reach, instead of limiting their inbound traffic to direct or search engine traffic. “Without utilising social media as part of your marketing strategy, you'll have much more difficulty reaching anyone outside of your loyal customer circle. Every social media profile you add to your marketing mix is a gateway to your website, and every piece of content you post is another opportunity to acquire a new customer,” says Blue Fountain Media.

While social media doesn’t directly improve SEO ranking, Social Media Examiner reports that more than 58% of marketers using social media for one or more years see improved search engine rankings. “Being able to rank in the top positions for your keywords will revolutionise your traffic and continue to generate positive results for your business,” adds Blue Fountain Media.

Higher conversion rates and better customer satisfaction

With the increased visibility gained from creating a social media presence, every blog post, image, video, or comment could lead to a view on an organization's website and increase the traffic. “Over 51% of marketers claimed that taking the time to develop relationships with consumers showed positive results in sales. The better impression you make on a visitor, the more likely they are to think of your business when the need for your product or services arises. Studies have also shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing,” notes Blue Fountain Media.

Finally, establishing a social media presence creates a voice for organisations and humanises the brand. “Customers appreciate knowing that when they post comments on your pages, they will receive a personalised response rather than an automated message. Being able to acknowledge each comment shows that you are attentive of your visitors' needs and aim to provide the best experience.”

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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Jun 16, 2021

SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data

SAS
British Army
3 min
Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM, explains the important role that SAS is playing in the British Army’s digital transformation

SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation. 

“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.

In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”

Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.

Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”

SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”

With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.

“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”

Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.

“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”

 

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