The online influence: Importance of having a clear strategy

Opinion - Businesses need to identify their target audience and create a clearly defined strategy to influence customers, says Sheeraz Hasan, social media expert and media strategist
Blueprint: If you are a business or a brand, you need to establish a target audience that you can reach.
By Sheeraz Hasan
Thu 06 Jul 2017 11:14 AM

In the business world of today, if your company is not on social media you have no future and your competitors will take your market share.

This applies to every company, every sector, every market and every area of industry.

Today’s population lives online. Your potential customers are among those billions of people occupying the digital space. If you don’t have a clear strategy for how you are going to communicate with your customers online and on social media in real-time, you are guaranteed to go out of business.

For your company to maximise the full potential of social media and build your online presence, I have outlined my top ten social media tips to grow your business.

1. X-Factor

There are billions of people online and millions of conversations happening every second. They are taking place on mobile devices, on the internet, on WhatsApp, Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s very noisy out there and it’s very crowded. Still, this presents opportunities that we have never encountered before the advent of the digital age. We are in a place where a small company can compete with a gigantic Fortune 100 company.

The number one thing that you need to identify yourself in business before you launch any social media campaign is your X-Factor.

What do you bring to the table? What makes you different? In the social media and digital world, you need to have an X-Factor. If you don’t have an X-Factor, your competitor is going to take your market share.

2. Know your target audience

If you are a business or a brand, you need to establish a target audience that you can reach. Ideally, this is a small, niche market. You can’t just say: “Everyone is my market, everyone can buy my product”. It’s important to take a step back and define the qualities of your buyer, what digital spaces they are likely to occupy and the method by which you should interact with them. You need to identify your target audience and know them so well that you know what products or services they want.

3. Create a roadmap

When developing your social media strategy, it’s important to make a blueprint of how you are going to create content that will take your message to your audience. It’s almost like Google Maps for your marketing strategy. You need to know every road that you are going to take that will bring you towards your end goal, which is your consumer base. Once you have a roadmap for how you are going to achieve your social media goals, you need to create a posting schedule for your social media platforms that you adhere.  Maintaining consistency with your posting schedule is so important because out of sight, out of mind.

4. What’s the purpose of using all the social platforms that are out there?

When you look at the entire population today that is living online, they do not all collectively inhabit one platform. Social media users are spread across various channels. Some of your potential buyers may be active on one platform and not on another. Each platform caters to a very specific audience.

Therefore, when you are creating content, you have to have a detailed plan and a consistent content strategy that is going to feed each one of these platforms.

5. Content strategy

The number one question when you create content: Share. Social media enables you to create a piece of original content that could reach millions of people. Content is sharable if it is interesting, engaging or touching and has a human element. Sharable content causes a reaction from people, whether they are going to laugh or cry. If you don’t create content that is sharable, you lose the game. If content is King, engagement is Queen.

You must create content that is you can publish on all different platforms that will make people press the share button.

6. Social Media Formula 85/10/5

The majority of businesses or brands or individuals that are trying to implement a social media strategy only have selling in mind. All they want to do is promote. All they want to do is create content that pushes a message and sells. That is a big turn-off for millennials and social media users. They don’t want to be sold to. Today’s social media users want to be engaged, informed and entertained. The ratio for content strategy used by some of the most successful brands in the world is 85 percent /10 percent /5 percent.

85 percent of the time, you need to be engaging with your target audience; 10 percent of the time you need to be creating amazing, original, sharable content; 5 percent of the time, you are allowed to sell.

7. Develop a real-time mindset

When your company doesn’t respond immediately if someone sends you an e-mail, that’s a problem. You can’t wait one hour, you can’t wait until the next day or the day after. The second you do that, the second they are going to start searching for another option. You need to train your entire organisation that you are running a company today that operates in real time.

8. Video and live-streaming

Video content is the content that is being watched the most and shared the most. People love video. It’s very important that when you create your content strategy, you are sure to post strong video. Since your company needs to have a real-time mindset, you need a strategy for live-streaming. Many platforms offer live-streaming and it’s one of the best social media tools today. You have the ability to get your message instantly broadcasting to the entire planet from a device as small as your smartphone in real time.

9. Influencers and celebrities

Once all of the fundamentals for your social media strategy are set, you can start identify the micro-influencers that can amplify your brand. Instead of spending money hiring one big influencer, it’s better at the beginning to hire 100 micro-influencers that really connect with your target audience.

From there, you can always move up to a bigger influencer or a celebrity. It is vital that you have social media influencers to amplify your content so you reach a bigger audience.

The power of a social media influencer is very important because of the trust factor. People trust influencers. If someone has a million followers, that’s a million people who are listening to that influencers. It’s very important that you attach the right influencers that reach your target audience. They will amplify your content to help your company drive sales, reach a bigger audience, attract celebrities and gain relevance and credibility.

With the rise of social media, traditional celebrities have had to compete with a new breed of stardom that social influencers command. Research shows that celebrities continue to be the number one choice for brands looking for endorsement, yet social influencers are catching up.

10. Sales/urgency

The ultimate goal for any business’s social media strategy is to drive sales. Once you’ve built the trust and created the community, you have to create the sales funnel to lead the people who respond to your pitches. The sales funnel allows you to present offers that create some urgency.

Now you’ve built that engagement and you’ve built that trust, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. It’s called GTM: Get The Money.

Sheeraz Hasan is an entrepreneur, consultant, social media expert and media strategist who has overseen campaigns for some of the most recognised brands, celebrities and government agencies in the world. He manages marketing campaigns and works directly with a number of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Priyanka Chopra.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.