Author: Taylor Walston
A strong social media presence can help get your business in front of an entire group of new customers. You’ll gain a new audience while continuing to reach existing customers who will enjoy seeing their favorite shop in their news feed. Miranda Schmidt, the social media director for La Crosse Archery, shared her knowledge with ATA members who are looking to start their own social media marketing strategy.
How to Get Started
Schmidt knew La Crosse Archery needed a strong social media presence when she and her husband took over the business in 2008. She got the ball rolling by setting up a Facebook page and creating a website. In 2016, they realized social media had some pretty impressive marketing benefits. “That is when we set up our Instagram to start sharing more laid-back, fun-loving content,” Schmidt said. “From there we developed our YouTube channel that we utilize for product launch videos and ATA footage. We have recently briefly dabbled in some fun TikTok videos.”
Where to Post
It’s important to keep your customers in mind when you’re choosing which social media platforms to post on. You want to meet your customers where they are. “We definitely focus mostly on our Facebook and Instagram,” Schmidt said. “Given our demographic, this is where we have seen the most traffic. These two platforms are wonderful for businesses as they have developed analytics that can teach you what content is working and what isn’t. From there you can tweak your online presence to gain more traction.”
While it’s important to reach existing customers, it’s also beneficial to keep up with the latest trends and create a presence on a new social media platform that’s rising in popularity. This is where you could gain new customers and extra attention. That’s one reason La Crosse Archery recently debuted a presence on TikTok. “TikTok has entered the chat,” Schmidt said. She didn’t go into the new venture without first understanding the platform. She noted that she spent hours doing diligent research before launching their TikTok channel. “We are still not strong on this platform as it takes a LOT more time than it looks like to develop this content, but it is a constant work in progress. Never stop learning and being open to new things and change. It is so easy to get stale on social media, and spicing it up and changing the vibe every now and again will only keep your audience interested.”
How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy
With so many different social media platforms on the table, creating a solid marketing strategy will help keep you organized and successful on each platform. Think about the goals of your shop or organization and post content that reflects those values.
“We have three main pillars of our social media presence: Informative Product Content, Store Advertising/Sales Content, and Humor/Fun-Loving Content,” Schmidt said. “Our goals will depend on which outlets we utilize for our messaging. Our Informative Product Content consists of videos made with manufacturers regarding product launches, videos from the ATA Show and any other informative video content we develop. These are generally housed on our YouTube channel, but they are also accessible through Instagram and Facebook. We post our Store Sales and Advertisements mostly on Facebook and Instagram as well. Depending on the level of call to action we are looking for, we may ‘boost’ our advertisements (pay for them to be seen by a predetermined audience within our service area). Lastly, my favorite pillar, the Humor and Fun-Loving Content, is generally splashed throughout all of our social media platforms. There is nothing better than sharing a funny hunting meme and seeing your customers respond to it, laugh about it, bring it up in conversation at the shop. This is the content that keeps people engaged and interested in your content.”
Some businesses might find it helpful to create a posting schedule to make sure they don’t fall behind on content. Others might view a schedule as too restricting and opt to post whenever they feel they have valuable content. Neither is necessarily right or wrong. If the structure of a schedule will help you stay organized, then use that tool. If you’d rather post when you feel it’s important, then follow that path. As long as you’re presenting material that demonstrates who your business is and what it offers, that’s what really matters. It can be more beneficial to post quality content than to post content simply to fill the time.
“Over time, I’ve found that pressuring myself to develop content on a schedule only pushes me to create flat, uninteresting content just to fill a space on the calendar,” Schmidt said. “We do use scheduled posts when we know we have a sale upcoming, or an event that we have planned, etc. Otherwise, most of our content is posted point-in-time.”
La Crosse Archery has found that their audience particularly enjoys content featuring their dog. Photo Credit: La Crosse Archery
Analyze the Results
After you’ve created your initial strategy, it’s time to analyze the results. Look at the data and see what kind of posts perform the best on each platform. Running a Facebook ad campaign can be a great way to promote your business with a tangible metric. Visit the ATA’s MyATA Learning Center and view the course “Run Your Own Facebook Ad Campaign” to learn more. You can use the platform’s internal reporting metrics to monitor analytics.
La Crosse Archery, for example, sees an influx of engagement when they post about Anthony and Miranda’s dog, Halo. “We take our dog to the store every day,” Schmidt said. “We have some customers that come just to see her. Anything we post that includes her is always better received and interacted with than any other content. If we can find a way to include her in any of our social media content, we always try to do so. She seems to be a megaphone for our messaging.”
Keep an eye on the comments. Designate someone on your team to be in charge of monitoring comments and responding accordingly. It’s always important to respond to comments that require attention or ask a direct question. Take action when you feel it’s necessary. It’s no secret that you’ll receive both positive and negative comments.
“We have a group of our full-time staff that help us monitor our comment section, inbox, etc.,” Schmidt said. “We absolutely monitor all comments on our pages. We have had a number of inappropriate comments posted, and those range from negative talk about our product lines, to judgmental inferences about our policies or business choices, to even comments that are posted simply to make someone feel bad. Those things we will not tolerate. We do have a pretty wide acceptance level and 98% of the time our audience is wonderful and beyond appropriate. At the end of the day, this is social media and we have a responsibility to monitor and be mindful of the content presented on our page. Our content can be viewed by a 5-year-old playing with Dad’s phone or it can be viewed by Grandpa Buck who just got onto Facebook to see pictures of the grandkids. We just never know who is going to be seeing our content, so it is imperative that we ensure our messaging is appropriate for all ages.”
How to Engage with Your Audience
Focus on creating content that will attract the users’ attention. Post things that will make them stop to read it and feel compelled to “like” or engage with it. Schmidt uses humor as a powerful metric. “We try to pay attention to what is happening on social media and if there is something viral going around … why work harder when you can work smarter,” she said. “For example, Bernie Sanders and his mittens! Along with the rest of the world, I took Bernie and Photoshopped him into a different scene, but I choose one that would resonate with our audience. I put Bernie at the top of a treestand with the caption: The International Girlfriend Sign for ‘My feet are cold, and I want to go home.’ While this seemed to be a bit of a risk given that he is a political figure, it was something that everyone could laugh at. It was one of our most engaging posts of that year!”
Schmidt’s advice is to take the time to truly understand the platforms and how each of them operates. Make sure you understand all the nuances and features to make the most out of the platform. Schmidt noted that she spent hours on the couch researching and trying to understand TikTok. Seek out help from another marketing professional if you don’t understand a platform. “Also, don’t be afraid to make it your own,” Schmidt said. “Find a way to stand out. Post a variety of things so your audience is constantly engaged with a different cycle of content. Maybe today it is a sale, maybe next time it is a funny meme, maybe in a week or two you post a product overview. Keep it fresh, keep it changing, and keep it very true to who you are as a business.”
However you use your social media platforms, make sure it represents the best of your business. A strong social media marketing strategy should show the world who you are and what your business has to offer. Your marketing efforts, if done correctly, could create a family of happy and engaged new and existing customers.