I'm often asked questions such as these:
"What should I be doing to improve on Facebook or Instagram?
"Is this piece of ad copy good?"
"How do I get more followers?"
"What should the offer be in my search engine advertisements?"
It is often the case that behind these questions is the all-too common blunder of putting tactics before strategy. There is a world of difference between strategy and tactics.
A strategy is an overall plan of action designed to achieve a certain aim. A tactic is a method one implements as part of achieving that aim. In other words, your strategy may be comprised of a variety of tactics that help you reach your goals.
According to diffen.com:
"A strategy is a larger, overall plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, less impactful plans that are part of the overall plan."
A frequent problem in the world of marketing is a rush headlong into tactics without first fomenting a proper and guided strategy. The problems that can arise when implementing tactics without a strategy already in place could be the subject of a much larger post.
However, here we will focus on the one thing that must be done even before creating a strategy: research.
Yes, research. I know time is money. There is an insatiable urge to just get it all out there. We want results NOW. But without doing research all your marketing efforts will have been in vain.
According to Hubspot, a good marketing strategy must be built upon specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals (SMART). But how do you know your goals meet such criteria? How can one determine one's goals in the first place?
The answer is research.
Although it doesn't sound sexy, you must first spend some time doing research before you get started. You must research such data as, demographics, market trends, and your current clients and customers. This will enable you to set SMART goals, develop accurate buyer personas to target, and figure out how to optimize in order to reach your objectives.
And research is not only something to be done at the beginning. You must research throughout the entirety of every single campaign and optimize accordingly.
The data revolution has brought with it the ability and the need to constantly research our marketing campaigns. Research is required at all stages of a campaign from awareness to consideration to decision.
So, before you worry about what to post on Facebook, first determine if Facebook is even the channel where you should be devoting most of your time and resources. Identify your ideal customers and find out where they hang out online before choosing which social networks on which to focus your efforts.
Before writing a piece of copy or trying to determine its effectiveness, do some research to find out who is your target audience and what are their pain-points, problems, and concerns. Don't just try to get followers. Get engaged followers who want to interact with your brand by actively listening to consumers on social media. Your research should guide every piece of content you create and where you distribute it. Use research to guide all of your business decisions.
The only way to be successful in the long run is to take the time to do your due diligence and research, research, research. There's no getting around it. There are no shortcuts.
Once you have done a sufficient amount of research, don't be afraid to implement with confidence and then research some more.