This week marks the return of one of GFM’s favorite events: The Wright from Something Independent. The Wright Award Night is a celebration of Colorado-based companies that are finding success at the intersection of lifestyle and commerce. Each company presents a 90-second video, and then finalists answer questions from a panel of business experts – Shark Tank-style – to narrow the field to one winner. Past winners include FlyLow, MHM Backpacks, Voormi, and Eldorado Climbing Walls.
This is the third year GFM has been a sponsor, PR partner and social media content curator for the event, and each year we find ourselves energized at the entrepreneurship of Colorado companies, and the outdoor industry in the state as a whole. Part of our excitement revolves around the potential all of the contenders have to bring their brands to life via social media and digital marketing.
As many entrepreneurs know, there is only so much time left in the day for managing social media. Here is a seven-step process for any startup to follow to develop (and organize!) a social media and digital marketing strategy:
Step 1: Identify your key audiences
You can’t be everything to everyone, and trying to do so will only water down your brand, confuse your existing customers and stretch your resources too thin. Start by identifying 2-3 audiences for your product or service. Gender, age range, interests and income levels are all great places to start. Give them a customer profile if it helps.
Step 2: Discover which social networks your audiences use, and what kinds of content they engage with
It certainly helps to have an agency or an expert jump in to help with market research, but with a working knowledge of social networks you can make some pretty informed presumptions for this step. Facebook has a huge and engaged audience that is often used to share information with friends and family. Twitter also has a large audience, but is very real-time and news oriented by nature. Instagram works well for visual brands looking to reach a younger demographic, and so on. This is an extremely important step that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it will inform strategic decisions and help you stay focused down the road.
Step 3: Understand what kinds of content you have access to
This step will help you match your key audiences to your own capabilities. If you don’t have visual content, Instagram may not be the best platform for your business, even if it’s where one of your key audiences currently interacts. If you have great video content (or the potential to create compelling videos) factor that into which platforms are best suited for hosting your videos (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have their merits, in addition to YouTube). Great written case studies or white papers are typically great for a blog/Twitter combination, for instance.
Step 4: Don’t bite off more than you can chew (Or: Do one thing and do it well!)
You only have so much content to share, and so many resources to share it on social networks. The last thing you want to do as a startup is spend time on something with a small return. Pick the 2-3 social networks that best align steps 1-3 and keep your focus narrowed for a set amount of time. Then reassess and build on your presence when you have the appropriate resources.
Step 5: Create a content calendar
This is more of an organizational step than anything, but a vital one when it comes to getting the most out of your efforts. The last thing you want is to have the same “what are we going to post to Twitter” conversation every Monday. Start by creating a content calendar that outlines the things you know you need to post about (events, product launches, specials, etc.) and set aside the time to create that content before it needs to be posted. The in-the-moment posts will then become more manageable. Taking 30 minutes a week to plan your content is infinitely easier than coming up with everything in real time.
Step 6: Identify a management and measurement process
This step doesn’t have to be rocket science, but needs to be done at some level. Do you have an employee who is passionate about social networks? See if she would be willing to manage one or more of your platforms. Do you have a team in the field who has access to great content? Find a process to make sure they’re snapping photos or videos that connect with steps 1 and 4. And don’t forget to put some kind of metrics process in place at the onset. Even if it’s as simple as the number of times you want to post per week – identifying some kind of metric early will keep you honest.
Step 7: Interact with your customers and audiences!
Original content about your brand is great, but never discount the “social” aspect of social media. Respond to people who talk about your company, share relevant information from outside sources that doesn’t directly mention your product but talks about your industry. Be nice, and say thank you often!
Of course, if all else fails and you find that social media is just too much to manage, you can always bring in the GFM Digital team to help you from either a strategic or day-to-day standpoint as well!