As a social media professional at SAP, I get many questions from colleagues who are new to social media and would like to add social media to their marketing mix. The learning curve on social media is still steep for most people, and in this blog, I have aggregated the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Many of my consulting engagements start with the sentence “My team wants to have a Twitter handle” or “I need to increase the number of fans for our Facebook page”.

To that, there is only one answer: “Why”? And ,”Let’s take a step back”.

Before you get engaged in any kind of social media project, please ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are my social media objectives (these should align with your marketing, and on a higher level, your business objectives)?

  • Maybe you are trying to create awareness for a product offering?
  • Maybe you want to extend the reach of an event beyond a physical location?
  • Maybe you are tasked to generate leads?
  • Maybe…(fill in here)

2. Who is my target audience?

  • I struggle with the answer “anybody who might want to buy my product”. Keep in mind that the less homogenous your target audience is, the more high level your messages will have to be. The more targeted you can get, the better you can address specific business problems.
  • Or in simpler terms, if you are a B2B social media marketer and somebody sent you a Tweet about “The top 10 ways to create a lead”, you’d be somewhat interested. But if they sent you a Tweet saying: “10 tips how social media can be used to create leads that close”, you’d be very interested. On a busy day, you might click on the on Tweet number two but ignore Tweet number one.
  • An example target audience could be: Retail, IT management, North America.

3. Where does my target audience participate in social media?

  • It is a fallacy to think that “if you build a social media channel, they will come”.
  • I’ve only recently learned that Global 2000 companies in Finland are not very active on Twitter; but they like to engage on LinkedIn. Hence, for every target audience you define, you need to do research where they lurk (= read) or engage (= comment, ask questions etc.). Your audience might frequent existing communities like IT Toolbox or read blogs on Wherever they are, that’s where you want to be.
  • Of course, you can also create your own social media channels on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc., but remember that you’ll need to dedicate resources to manage these channels continuously. The only thing worse than no presence on social media is a social media channel where the last post is a month old.

Once you have answered these basic but often not easy to answer questions, you will need to develop an editorial calendar to feed the channels you have selected and define a cadence (e.g. blog once a week).

You’ll also need to define metrics to measure your success. For example, if your target audience likes to read blogs, you can measure views and comments on your blog. But you can also measure things like click-throughs to media (e.g. YouTube videos) embedded in your blog, referrals back to your web site, or the completion of a registration form; to only name a few.

I hope you found this blog useful, and I’d appreciate it if you could add your own “most asked” social media challenge or question and how you have addressed them.