Launching a new Facebook page is easy, but the systematic and strategic debut of a new social platform is a completely different discussion. We often think of Facebook interactions as engagement, but it’s really only a doorway to the level of engagement your organization needs to have with people to make the most of Facebook’s potential.
A full scale social platform is built to do much more than just get “likes”, and launching one involves setting up a strategic system to turn those “likes” into something valuable.
What is a Social Platform?
When I say “social platform,” I am not just referring to a Facebook page, but rather the entire inner workings of a comprehensive social media strategy. This covers everything from identifying your audience to building your primary content generation system (blog, podcast, etc.), to turning those “likes” into real, measurable action. Whether you will even use Facebook or not is a strategic decision that comes later in the process.
Here is an overview of the major steps to building a solid social platform that performs:
- Build a strong brand
- Understand your target audience
- Define the primary goal of the whole effort
- Create objectives that will build toward reaching the goal
- Invest time and thought into your content generation system, such as a blog or podcast
- Learn the SEO techniques needed to be effective with that content system
- Strategically select your social networks in which to participate
- Identify any additional moving parts like email newsletters or lead nurturing
- Develop the tactics that your platform will use
- Allocate the budget and resources needed
Launching & Engaging
When it comes to launching a social platform and introducing it to the world, there is no magic formula to follow. It’s about testing ideas and seeing what works. What will help is a thorough understanding of how the internet, social media, and your audience operate. Adding some high octane creative marketing ideas to the mix will go a long way as well. In the end you need to find out what resonates with your audience, and then get your followers engaged and impressed. Engagement is crucial.
The Element of Surprise
Before you launch your new initiative, or even announce its existence, you have a very powerful weapon at your disposal, the element of surprise. When people first hear about what you are doing, they will likely be excited (at least your target audience should be) and they will be ready to like, share, retweet, and spread the word. This initial buzz can be instrumental in getting your platform on the map, but be careful not to let the secret out before you are ready.
Think things out in advance. Before you have the first web visitor:
- What do you want them to do?
- What can you do in order to move them toward action?
- How can you capture that visitor’s interest in order to provide more value to them once they leave your site?
Planning Is The Competitive Edge
Lead nurturing is the process of moving someone from a casual observer to an engaged participant in your brand. It comes as a result of careful planning. If you want to be effective at using your web presence, you need to find a way to build a deeper relationship with everyone who visits your site. And you do not want a single visitor to come to your site unless you have something in place that will allow them to deepen that relationship in a way that is significant to them. They have a world wide web of choices and the only effective way to get the competitive edge is to not waste any effort. That means, planning things out BEFORE you act.
For instance, providing a phone number and a mailing address on your website is not enough. Visitors finding you on the internet are telling you something about the way they like to get information and they need a way to engage further via the internet. Asking a first time website visitor to call you is similar to asking someone in a grocery store to go home and shop online. You will be tempted to act right away and use processes that are already in place, but slow down and look at the big picture. Do not move too quickly and waste the element of surprise by generating buzz that you are not prepared to appropriately capitalize on.
Creative Solutions to Creating Engagement
Before you launch you must have a creative plan to engage your audience and leverage their interest. A simple solution can be to prompt them to sign up for an e-newsletter, enter a contest, request a free gift, subscribe for updates, or make an initial donation or special purchase of some kind. Getting Facebook likes is too small to be a goal; it is a tactic toward reaching a bigger engagement goal like an e-newsletter sign up, an actual product sale, or sharing a contest with their social network.
This approach will help you gauge your initial splash and also form the beginnings of more substantive engagement, like building your email list. When visitors commit information or participation they are deepening their relationship and trust with your organization. This is engagement happening on multiple levels and it is the reward for your careful planning.
I’ll close with this little aside that matters a great deal. Always build a functional, best practices compliant email list. Even if you do not have anything to email yet, collect as many names as possible WITH PERMISSION so that you have them if and when you are ready to communicate further.
What is the one thing you need to do today to make your social platform more strategically engaging?
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