Creating Your Social Media Marketing Plan in 10 Easy Steps
The success in social media marketing comes from building strong and long-lasting relationships with customers and professional contacts over many months and years and giving them the type of content that they will want to share with their family, friends and colleagues.
This approach will help you to attract and keep loyal customers and connections, and get them to sell your business for you, not the other way around.
While this approach is a world away from the way that most traditional marketing works, this open, two-way communication is now what billions of consumers around the world expect from the businesses and brands to whom they invest time and money.
This article will help you make get the most from your social media marketing with a ten-step process for creating a successful marketing plan.
1. Determine Your Goals
Determining the goals of any marketing strategy is absolutely vital. This is probably the most important step because if you don’t aren’t clear about what you want to achieve, or why you are doing a specific task you won’t be motivated to do it correctly and eventually, you are going to stop doing it.
It is like kicking a ball in the middle of a football pitch in a championship game and not knowing that the idea was to get to the end of the field and kick the ball into the goal. You wouldn’t stand a chance against the pros and you would walk off the pitch in shame.
To help you to determine your goals, ask yourself these questions about what you want to achieve when using social media for your business:
- What do you want to get out of your social media marketing efforts? Do you want more customers/leads? If so, how many?
- Do you want greater brand awareness? If so, you need to clarify exactly what this means for your business.
- Do you want more visitors to your website?
- Why exactly are you doing social media marketing?
The goals are endless and vary from business to business. They key is to determine what your goals are and to make them doable and measurable. Write them down and then move on to the next step so that you can work through creating the foundation of your social media-marketing plan.
2. Decide who will manage your social media networks
Again, this is very step. Why? Because social media requires interaction, and if you are going to use social networking as one of the tools you need to know who is going to maintain that and where the content that is going to be used is coming from. It is crucial because this is your online reputation that we are talking about. If you ignore this, your strategy will suffer and you could cause lots of problems for your business in the future.
To help you, answer these questions:
- Who is going to create the social media content? (Blogs, articles, videos, images, status updates etc.)
- Who will maintain the social media accounts?
- Who will be the voice(s) of your business, the one responding to questions on your company’s behalf?
- Do you have an in-house technical expert to be part of the online conversation and look after your social media accounts? If not, are you or a member of your staff willing to learn or are you able to outsource the work?
- Can you, or someone you have on your team, write well?
Knowing if you have the right people in place is vital. Without the right people your social media marketing campaign will fail, regardless of how incredible your plan is. If you don’t currently have these key people, talk to us and we will help you.
3. Know Your Audience
We are going to assume for a moment that you know who your audience is. You may have already spent the time needed to establish the demographic you are after based on the products and services you offer. When it comes to social media marketing, understanding your audience is really what you need to do.
You also need to understand where your target audience is online. This isn’t the same as your demographic or running an ad in the newspaper or putting up a billboard somewhere to catch the attention of everyone, including your market. No, social media marketing is about getting to know your market on a more intimate level.
This is where a little research needs to be done. You have to determine the places that they frequent online. Everyone almost always assumes that Facebook is the first place, or even the only place to go. While it is true that Facebook is an excellent start, it should only be part of your social media marketing plans. There are many more platforms that your target audience may be using instead, depending on their age and what they are interested in.
Each social media network has their own audience, and this is why Facebook can’t be the only social network that your business uses.
Beyond the social networks, there may be particular discussion forums or online communities that your audience prefers to visit. Think about where they would go and seek advice if they had a particular problem to solve relating to your niche.
Once you have established where your audience is you can figure out what type of information they want from you. You will need to know their likes and dislikes. Never forget that social media marketing is really about getting to know your market and catering for their needs. The selling and promotions come later.
All of your communication on social media needs to be helpful and engaging. Your aim is to find out their exact needs and start building a relationship based on trust and respect. You are giving them a reason to buy from/work with you and not your competitor.
4. Create Amazing Content
Once you have figured out where your audience are online and you have spent time finding out what they want, take the time to create content that gives them what they want and makes them feel happy that they found you.
If you notice that your audience prefers videos or images and that really gets them excited and talking, it really wouldn’t make sense just creating a plain old text blog post.
This isn’t about reinventing the wheel. This is about making the wheel you are offering better than everyone else’s out there, so check out what is working with the other wheel makers and do it better or different (in a good way).
5. Integrate your marketing efforts
All of your social media marketing efforts need to work together. This means that they need to feed off one another. Cross-promote your social media accounts to your audience. If your audience is on a social network and they tend to visit specific blogs and they like video, then you need to make sure that they can find more great content on your blog with integrated YouTube videos and on playlists on your YouTube channel by promoting this on your social media network page.
Your social media marketing and the traditional marketing you are doing also need to work together. You need to be promoting your online endeavours on your brochures, advertisements, letterheads, radio etc. These marketing efforts should all be working together to support one another. This is marketing synergy at its core.
6. Create a schedule
If you are an entrepreneur starting and running your own business, creating an effective social media schedule is very important. It is very easy to spend more time than is actually needed on a social network. If you are using multiple social media platforms you want to make sure that you are allocating enough time in your day to use them effectively.
Getting sucked into emails and social networks are two of the biggest productivity killers that a business person or employee can get caught up with. From a marketing perspective, you don’t need more than 20 minutes on a social network.
7. The 80/20 rule
This is an important rule to remember regarding social media marketing. We have already stressed that social media isn’t really about you; it’s about your audience. We have also mentioned that social media isn’t really about where you sell your product or service right off the bat. So when you are online using your various social media tools, keep in mind that 80 per cent of your time should be spent on activities that are not self-promoting. Social marketing is all about helping your customers and clients. Only around 20 per cent of your social media posts should be about promotion.
8. Quality over quantity
On social media, time is twofold. It is far better to post content that is useful to your customer whether it is just once a day or a couple of times per week than to flood them with useful valueless posts. It is also better to have 1,000 loyal engaged followers than to have 10,000 followers that sign up to get something and then never interact with you again.
Quality goes a lot further than quantity. Less is most definitely more.
It is your audience that will dictate the flow of any online conversation. The reason that you want them to do this is that you want your audience to feel as if the conversation is theirs. When someone is able to take ownership, and make something theirs, they develop an emotional connection to whatever that thing is. You want your current and potential customers to have an emotional connection to you, your company and your brand. They need to feel as though they are the most important thing to you and not their wallets.
10. Adapt your business and watch your profits soar
Social media marketing is exciting. As you use it, you will learn more about your audience and this knowledge will only grow the longer you do it. Who your audience are today may not be who they were 18 months ago or who they’ll be in a year’s time. Needs change, likes change, people grow and change. Social media is your inexpensive way to stay on top of and anticipate what your customers will need next.
You can use these changes to create and launch new products or services. Think about how compelling it is to the consumer that a new product or service was created just for them based on what they have said to you. Can you imagine anything more powerful than that? Over time, as you change and adapt your business providing exactly what your customers want, your business will be in a very powerful position and you will watch your profits soar.
You Don’t Need to do this Alone
We realise that social media marketing can seem daunting for some small businesses. Although it will be hugely profitable for your business it requires patience, time and commitment in order to see results.
We are here to help and are happy to offer advice and assist you setting up a profitable social media campaign. We have helped many businesses just like yours to succeed online.
Burnside | A technology professional with more than two decades of experience writing. He has served as contributing author for 'Talking Tech' Column in the Pride of Durham News Paper(NC), and has an ongoing contribution here on CyrilBurnside.com. He works with PC99Solutions, a technology consulting firm focused on services for small business. Contact us today and watch your online business grow.