Social media plays a critical part of any successful online marketing plan. Learning how to efficiently structure your social media plan can help you increase brand awareness while driving customer engagement. Below are some tips to help you get started on customizing your own plan of action.
Understand What Social Media Is
Often times, executives and business owners struggle to understand the value of social media and the positive effect it could have on their business as well as their bottom line.
Today, social media plays a more central role in online marketing strategies. “Social” can engage a business’ target audience, increase brand awareness and generate publicity. Social media marketing can also be used for brand building, reputation management, customer feedback, community building and customer conversions.
Social media, when done with intention, is about having meaningful conversations. By starting and maintaining a dialogue with your target audience, you can better serve them.
Know the Vision and Mission of the Business and Make It Come to Life
What is the business about that will other people would want to talk about? Beyond making money, what else are you here for? An ideal mission statement is clear and simple enough to keep alive. For example, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. A guiding statement is kept alive by the owners referring to it and leading from it.
A clear mission statement will serve as a beacon and touchstone for all marketing efforts, and in particular, for designing your presence on the social platforms.
Know Your Goals and Milestones
The start of any successful social media marketing plan is outlining your goals, or the problem to be solved.
What do you want to achieve? Do you want to use social media for customer service? Are you trying to network with other companies? Do you want to use social media to help re-brand your business?
Taking the time to think through specific goals will help you lay the groundwork to social media marketing success.
Know Your Target Market and Define Avatars
Social media allows you to market directly to your target consumers on the same social channels that they use every day. Do you know where your customers spend the most time online? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest?
Take the time to develop avatars of several types of clients or prospects (3 to 10). A clear example used in politics is Soccer Moms vs Hockey Moms. An ideal avatar is defined so clearly that someone else could identity your customer at a party after talking to them a few minutes.
You also need to know who your negative-customer is as well. Who do you want to repel or send to the competition? Who are the people that complain easily and consume 80 percent of your time? If you can define avatars for these customers, you can design marketing that will NOT attract them to your business.
Post engaging, unique or other shareable items that your target demographic would find appealing, and don’t forget to engage with the people who comment on and like your posts!
Know Your Budget
A solid social media marketing strategy requires two things: time and money. Exactly how much of either depends on the size of your business as well as the size of the audience you are trying to reach. Consider the following:
Who will be maintaining your social accounts? Consider how much time will be required to invest in the ongoing management of the various social media accounts that you create. Will you have this much time, or would it be better if you hired an outside social media marketing expert?
Is your business big enough to hire a social media professional?
If you’ve determined that you don’t have the time to manage multiple social media accounts, consider hiring an expert. Outsourcing your social media marketing may save you both time and money as well as help you meet your social marketing goals.
Look at your budget and establish how much money you have to spend on marketing. How much can be invested in social media?
Know Your Social Networks
If your company is mainly a B2B firm, focus on LinkedIn, Google+, and Slideshare. B2C companies often focus on Facebook and Pinterest. Both sides of the business divide need to pay attention to Google+ and the Google Business Pages.
Determine a Frequency for Posting
How often should you post new content to social networks?
Posting too much to your social networks is almost as bad as not posting enough. In the beginning, it will take some trial and error to figure out how much is too much versus too little.
Use cues from your audience to see what sorts of content resonates (ex: people ‘liking’ or commenting on posts or re-sharing). Look for content posting patterns that may have led to unlikes or unfollows.
Consider the timing and who will see your posts
Most platforms offer analytics information that can help you determine when your followers are on-line and more likely to see your posts and updates. 50% of your exposure on Facebook, for example, happens in the 30 minutes after you share. If your viewers aren’t online at that time, they won’t see your updates.
Create a calendar
Putting together a content calendar is one of the best ways to organize your total social media marketing plan as well as keep track of what things you’ve tried. A content calendar can also serve as a sounding board, helping you come up with new ideas to better market the business.
There is no one way to write up a social media content calendar. However, some of the basic things you’ll want to include in your calendar are:
- Months, noting special events, seasonal information, and holidays that matter in your business.
- Blog Post Titles
- Content Titles
- Date and place where content was published
- Social Sites, along with an indication of what type of content was posted to each social site
Get as detailed as you want with your calendar. For example, some companies will stratify their information even further to include line items such as: keywords, title tags, names of authors who wrote content, who content was last approved by, and other detailed information.
When going through your social media content calendar, be aware of where you are publishing information as well as what type of information you are publishing. For example, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are predominantly visual, so images may get more engagement than written content. If you do post written content, be sure that it is connected to a relevant image.
In addition to having a social media marketing content calendar, you should also include a separate spreadsheet to formulate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs are formulas that help you measure success in your marketing efforts.
It’s not enough to join a social network and post information. You need to have a way to measure how this information is (or isn’t) reaching its intended audience.
Ideally, you should have KPIs that are quantitative as well as qualitative. While quantitative results are important, make an effort to look at qualitative results as well. These results will show you how people feel about your brand and the information you are posting.
Some social networks produce their own metrics, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Once you’ve established what your KPIs are, create a spreadsheet, and decide how often you’ll update it with metrics. Some companies may choose to update their KPI spreadsheet on a weekly basis, monthly basis or even quarterly.
Don’t forget to take advantage of Google Analytics to see which social sites are top referrers to your business. Google Analytics can be a wealth of information for any business to help you see what is or isn’t working with your social media marketing plan.
Have the flexibility to change the plan and update it based on events and feedback you gain.
We welcome your comments and response. What have you learned about having a Social Media plan? What have you learned by not having a Social Media plan?
by Martin Brossman and Karen Tiede
Learn more about our Social Media Management Training at: http://MySocialMediaMastery.com