Hannah TigheI often have people calling that are in a panic about the number of fans on their Facebook page, or they tell me they want to get on Twitter. When I ask them, “What are your goals for using social media? What is the purpose of having those fans and followers?” They often don’t know. So, before making the investment, let’s develop a basic strategy.

Ask yourself these five questions:

1. Who is your ideal client, what are their needs, and/or what is the pain point that you can solve well?

  • Ex. I have identified that my ideal clients are 31- to 52-year-old women who live within a 25-mile radius of my landscape company or garden center. These clients want low-maintenance plants and landscapes, but are not sure what will grow best or will bring a lot of color to their properties.

2. Where do these types of clients hang out online? Where do they get their information? Narrow it down to one or two networks and understand how these networks work.

  • Ex. From researching and surveying my current clients, and looking at demographic information on social media networks, I have found that women in this ideal age group are on Facebook, Houzz and Pinterest.

3. What kinds of questions do they typically have, or what things do they struggle with and ask about often?

  • Ex. What types of plants are low maintenance, won’t get too big and offer visual appeal all year long?

4. What are you looking for them to do when they find you on social media?

  • Ex. Do you want them to just verify your presence? Do you want them to download a coupon and bring it into the landscape company or garden center? Do you want them to sign up for your enewsletter so you can continue to market to them? Or, do you want to promote an in-store event or special you have for your current clients?

5. Who is going to be in charge of your social media? It is always best to have a consistent voice who knows how to portray your company’s voice and values and can speak and understand the industry language as well. This is how you build your reputation online; you don’t want to just give this to the part-time intern who isn’t planning on investing in your company long term, or who doesn’t understand your marketing goals.

  • Ex. Pick a person that has industry experience, understands your objectives, can effectively engage your clients and portray your company’s voice and vision, and also has some ability or interest in learning how to use these social networks effectively. Ask yourself: does this person have the time to do that, or should you outsource it?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can formulate a strategy that speaks directly to your target client, focuses on where they are already hanging out and provide information that entices them with a clear call to action.

Social media is about helping and educating your clients in places where they may already be looking for your products or services. The trick is then having a clear goal or call to action to have them want to connect and engage with you further.