This article is sponsored by Syntax Strategic.
In offices across Canada, well-intentioned leaders ask their social media managers if they should rush to open a new social media account on whatever trendy new platform is blowing up.
This question is not the starting place for your company’s social or digital strategy. Instead, deciding to open another social media account is a tactic chosen to fulfil your larger digital strategy. Before your company or non-profit opens any social media account, here are five things you need to consider:
1) Does it help you achieve the goal of your digital strategy?
Your digital strategy should guide all social media activity. If you do not have a digital strategy, you have no business opening five social media accounts.
Your social media manager along with your leadership team need to be clear about the goal of your digital strategy. From there, discuss whether opening an account on this platform will help you reach your goals. If not, your journey ends here.
2) Is this sustainable?
Let’s have an honest conversation about capacity and content.
Too often social media accounts are opened with the best of intentions, only for them to be left inactive and outdated, putting your company at reputational risk. Dormant and inactive social media accounts are not removed by social media companies. If you opened a Facebook account three years ago and have not posted on it since, that page is still searchable and will have all of the content you initially posted on it. Your previous content may no longer represent your brand, intentions or goals. Depending on how fast things have changed for your company, you may be at reputational risk.
On the flip side, if your content is incredibly popular and activity starts pouring in, you need to know that your team can handle it. Dealing with trolls, answering comments and monitoring notifications are all time-consuming things that occur inside and outside of business hours. If you start a large campaign without a management plan, your impact may fizzle out and the comment section can become the main attraction, not your content.
Speaking of content, do you have enough? Social media is a beast that requires regular feeding. Without good, relevant content you’re not effectively using the platform. Consider what messages and content you can post to ensure sustainability. Single ideas are not enough of a reason to open a platform.
To ensure sustainability, you need a content plan and you need people.
3) Does this help you reach your target audience?
Revisit your digital strategy and target audiences. Does this social media platform cater to the audience you’re trying to reach? Too often we rush to open social media accounts to stay on the cutting edge of trends without considering whether these are the people you need to reach. Are you trying to reach Gen Z? Or are you speaking to parents? Organizing a demonstration? Reaching Indigenous activists? Each of these audiences is going to connect differently and in different places. You also need to define whether you’re reaching people in a personal or professional capacity. Why does this matter?
I’ll use myself as an example.
Personally: Amanda, millennial, has a dog.
Professionally: Communications and marketing, advocacy specialist, political management
Where would you reach me based on your market research? Like every person, I wear many hats and can be engaged and targeted differently depending on where you’re reaching me. Personally, you should probably target me on Instagram or Facebook. Professionally, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Think of your target audience and decide is this the place to reach them before opening an account.
4) Do you have a budget?
Money doesn’t just talk, it gets results. Business accounts on social media tend to struggle to reach their target audiences consistently with organic posting. The solution? Good content, full-time management and a modest budget beyond the cost of a social media manager. There is a misconception that a “good” social media manager who has “good” content will amass a cult-like following. Fundamentally, social media platforms do not work like this anymore. Paid campaigns aimed at your target audience is the only guarantee that you will reach the right people. A modest social media budget can go a long way to start growing your followers and increasing engagement with your content.
5) Do you have a plan for measurement?
You need to know what success looks like. Measuring impact through analytics is crucial to determining whether a new platform is worth your financial and human resources. Without measuring your impact, you have no way of evaluating whether your social media platforms are performing how you need them to. This also means you don’t know whether a campaign was successful, if it fell short or if the time and effort you’re spending on a platform is providing you with a strong return on investment.
Every company or non-profit needs a personalized measurement plan that centres on what type of metric helps you meet the objectives of your digital strategy. In social media, there are three main metrics most companies start with: impressions, engagements and link clicks. Whether paid or organic, these three measurements can help you assess your social media impact. Which measurement you focus on the most circles back to the objective of your strategy.
For example, if you own a small gym and want to use Facebook to keep your members engaged during a shutdown, you aren’t necessarily looking for thousands of eyes on your content. Instead, success could be a highly engaged, but smaller group of people. That means success to your gym looks like high engagement rates, not high impression numbers.
In comparison, if you are a large company looking to increase your brand awareness, you want as many people as possible to see your content. That means impressions are a far better marker of success over engagements or link clicks.
Fundamentally, you need a plan to accurately measure and assess your social media activity to ensure you are putting your time and money in a place that makes sense.
If you answered yes to all of these questions, get that platform running! If you answered no, revisit your digital strategy and determine whether you should invest in each of these pieces or find a different avenue for impact. Social media platforms can be strong performers for your company or organization when used correctly. A decisive digital strategy will ensure you avoid distractions and stay focused on achieving your goal.
Amanda Deseure is a strategic and innovative communications specialist at Syntax Strategic with more than five years’ experience. She brings experience in advocacy, non-profit communications and political management. She is an expert in all things digital media and strives to find creative solutions to complex problems. Deseure has a combined honours degree in Communications and Women and Gender Studies and a Masters of Political Management from Carleton University.