Social media is an excellent tool for online businesses or businesses with an online presence. Unfortunately, it is not used to its full potential by so many of these businesses. There is a strategy that should be implemented when using social media, and this article sets out how to define that strategy.

Three Components to a Social Media Strategy

There are three components to every social media strategy. They are pretty much basic but necessary, and you are already probably using them.

  1. Interaction. Interaction refers to your engagement and sharing practices of social media sites.
  2. Publication. Publication refers to your unique content — e.g. blogs, tweets, instagram photos — that you or your company personally writes or takes and then publishes to the social media forum.
  3. Promotion. Promotion refers to sales campaigns or any other kind of promotion you offer via social media forums to sell your services or products.

Effective Use of Each Component

The first mistake people make with their online sales and marketing strategy is to use social media to promote their services or products way too much to the point it effectively harms more than helps. Social media exists because consumers of social media want to engage socially online. They are not on social media necessarily for the purpose of purchasing something, but looking for ideas or to share ideas, looking for trends or to share trends. It’s kind of like going to the mall to socialize with friends and window shop, but then being hounded by a salesperson; it simply is not effective.

For your social media strategy to be effective and foster more sales, you actually need to promote your services or products less. The following rules should be applied:

  • Rule No. 1: Nearly 80% to 90% of your social media strategy must be about interaction with your client base. Read what they are posting. Comment on what they are saying. Offer value when it’s needed. Be a part of the conversation. While being a part of the conversation, you’ll start to get noticed and traffic will begin to increase to your site.
  • Rule No. 2: About 10% or 15% of you social media strategy should include your own unique content. But not just any content; content that provides advice, value, substance. You should not publish fluff. If there isn’t something in the content that means something to the reader, then it’ll get overlooked. If, however, the reader likes what he or she sees, it’ll be re-posted, and your online website will begin to grow.
  • Rule No. 3: Approximately 5% of your social media strategy can include actual promotions. Remember: be cautious of the promotions, and offer them strategically, like during holidays or other relevant time periods. Too much will become an annoyance.

How to Implement a Strategic Social Media Plan

You want to first evaluate what you are currently doing with your social media platforms. Be honest and try to determine what is working and what is not. Once you have taken a hard look at what your current (lack of) social media strategy is, then incorporate the following:

  • Engage and interact. Spend time each day providing comments, sharing posts, etc. Note: if you share another person’s post, he or she is likely to share yours. Through engagement you can grasp a good working understanding of what your potential clientele want, need, prefer.
  • Start publishing content, not promotions. Once a week, publish a blog to your website and link it to your social media accounts. Get instagram, and take beautiful photographs. If you need to, hire a freelancer who can effectively give voice to your mission and purpose through the written or visual form.
  • Strategically determine when, maybe once a month, to promote your service or products. Maybe there is something happening during the month that relates to what you offer. Look at the year ahead and plan accordingly. Your blog posts can highlight what’s happening, that way you prepare your followers for the promotion, indeed, they may even expect it and want it.

The Key to Social Media Strategy

The key to social media strategy to sell your services or products is twofold: (1) engagement; and (2) not over-selling. I don’t know who loves to be harassed by a car salesman that won’t let you look without pushing you into buying a car you don’t want. It does not feel good. Social media, on the other hand, is all about feeling good. Let your followers decide when they want to purchase something, and in the meantime, keep them interacting with you, wanting to interact with you, and finally, needing to interact with you.