Are social media and the gym synonymous?

Running social media is like going to the gym, according to Zach Hesterberg, a former QU student who founded and operates SoZesty.

What Hesterberg means by this is that, if you go to the gym once or twice every few months and put in minimal effort, you’re not going to see results.  The same is true of social media. If you want to be effective on social media, you must be consistent with it.

In addition to consistently using and working on your social media skills, Hesterberg says that there are eight steps you need to follow to develop an effective social media strategy.

The first step is to understand and set your micro, or little, goals. For Hesterberg, this would be something like increasing customer acquisitions.

The second step is to set your larger goals.  Hesterberg says that these goals need to be so ambitious that they almost seem unattainable because if you only set attainable goals, you’re holding yourself back; you’ll never push yourself and see what you’re really capable of.  You goals also need to be specific, timely, and measurable, so for example, your goal could be to get 1,000 likes in the next two months for your new business on Facebook.

The third step is to characterize your target customers.  You need to find the people who will want your product, engage with your posts, and, hopefully, click through to your website and/or buy your product.  Even water, Hesterberg says, can have specific target audiences.  For example, you’d target college athletes and businessmen and women completely differently because these two groups are likely very different and care about very different things.

The fourth step is to analyze the competition– but not so much that you lose yourself in it.  It’s important, obviously, to see how others are attracting customers or maybe even losing customers so that you know what is and is not effective for your shared target audience.  Hesterberg, when doing work for a salon in St. Louis, says he looked at similar businesses to see how they were attracting customers.  He learned that it’s not really effective to post before and after pictures or share other salons’ pictures as the St. Louis salon had been doing in the past.

The fifth step is to develop your brand message.  In doing this, you should craft a slogan, logo, or something else that is easily recognizable so that when customers hear or see it, they instantly think of you.  An obvious example of a universally recognizable slogan is Nike’s “Just do it.”  It’s Nike swoosh is also a unique and recognizable logo.

The sixth step is to choose the best social media site/s for you.  Hesterberg says that a mistake a lot of businesses make is only being on Facebook.  It’s not that you shouldn’t use Facebook if it works for you, but you should also see what social media sites your target customers are on and join them– so, if your customers are middle-aged moms, Facebook probably is a good site for you since so many are on it to stay in contact with their children who are away at college.  It’s also important to look for emerging social media platforms.

The seventh step is to build your content posting strategy.  You need to, as mentioned before, be consistent with your posting.  It is also vital that you post original content–Facebook likes it better– and include visuals, like videos, pictures, and infographics whenever you can.  For instance, posting once a day right before the time when most of your target customers will be on the site will probably get your posts more exposure and engagement.

The eighth and final step is to invest in paid advertising, as it helps get your social media sites exposure.  You should pay attention to your algorithms to help in your advertising, but if you’re on Facebook, the site could end up changing the algorithms and mess with your plans.  Though paid advertising is important, Hesterberg says you should avoid boosting your posts on Facebook because it’s not as effective and ends up costing more in the long run.

Speaking of advertising, Hesterberg says Twitter is sinking because it has not stayed up-to-date with its ads.  It doesn’t allow business users to target audiences. Rather, it uses more of a shotgun approach, which sends your message everywhere.  The shotgun approach is a negative thing because if your post goes out to everyone, a lot of people are just going to ignore it.  If they do this, the post won’t continue to go out to new people, whereas if you target customers, they’ll likely interact with the post and, in that way, spread it to new potential customers.

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to always post original content on all social media sites.  Hesterberg says this is because Facebook, for example, doesn’t like to share unoriginal content that’s shared across several platforms, so don’t link your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and post to all three at the same time.  If you want to use the same picture on three sites, however, that’s okay if you post the pictures separately with messages tailored to each site.

Finally, Hesterberg says the biggest mistake a business can make is being what he calls too salesy.  The salesy approach is not only annoying to customers but also to Facebook.  Authenticity wins always.  The more real you are in your posts, the more reach you are going to get.

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