Social Media can be overwhelming to some marketers (especially the newbies) who aren’t sure how to use it and even more so, where to begin their social media marketing strategy with!
Anything you do without a strategic plan is not gonna yield you results that you expect, but making a plan and sticking it is what would ! Same applies to your social media efforts. You must have a social media strategy plan and you should strictly follow it. Putting it in simple terms, its just like climbing a mountain, one wrong move an you may end in a place you never wanted to be. So before you start your journey towards the top, you need to have a road map that you will follow all along! The whole rock climbing journey may sound exciting (which sure is) but on your way you might find some struggles and some fun experiences, all you need to do is understand the struggles, find solutions, tweak your plan and keep on going!
According to Rebekah Radice, 97% of consumers say they now turn to the Internet before making contact with a business. What that means is, you as a business or entrepreneur or a marketer need to have an online presence that will help distinguish you from your competition. That doesn’t mean that you will be done once you create accounts on popular social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ or you can keep your accounts on auto pilot! You will need a Strategic PLAN for that!
What is a Social Media Marketing Plan?
Its a concise summary of what all things you plan to do with your social media and what results do you expect from it. You can start by auditing where your social accounts are and it should also include details like : who your customers are, what are your goals and objectives, what tools will you using, what is your competition doing and what tactics and strategies do you plan to apply.
Why you need a Social Media Marketing Plan?
How do you use your social media? Just like every one out their, “Oh, its fun! And just because everyone is using it, I am using it to.” No that’s not how you should be looking at social media, its a goldmine for marketers (if you use it the right way!)
Every business out there is making use of social media in one or the other way, and if you don’t jump on that band-wagon right now, your competitor will take advantage of it and stay on top it and grab your audience’s attention even before you could realize it. When it comes to social media “80 percent of marketers incorrectly begin with tactics instead of goals.” – eMarketer Report. [bctt tweet=”“80 percent of marketers incorrectly begin with tactics instead of goals.” – eMarketer Report.” username=”lnksocial”]
Stop wasting your precious time on tactics that you think might work, and focus on strategic planning which can produce measurable results.
How to make a Social Media Marketing Plan?
Building a right strategic plan for your business and be time consuming and may require a lot of going back and forth until your find the right mix that will work for your business. At first, you may feel intimidated with all this as it won’t give you the best possible results the first time, but once you start working it out (with consistency) it will do wonders! The first you apply it, you might see no results, the first month you are though executing your strategies you might (just) see some results, but if you stick with it and execute it for months you will definitely see significant results! In short, being consistent with what you do is the key to getting desired results. Lets go through this step-by-step guide on creating a social media strategy that works:
1. Choose Your Channels
Not all social channels are creates same, so you don’t have to be on each and every social channel available. Every social media serves a different kind of audience and a different kind of purpose. So how do you know which social media channel is right for you? There are a few things to consider for that:
Step #1 : Research your audience
Who is your target audience? If your business happens to be products/services for seniors and you use Instagram to market it, its not gonna give you any positive results even if you are doing everything right! That’s because, Instagram is not the social media where your target audience is hanging out! Find the right social media channels that work for your target audience. For example, if you are offering consulting services to business owners, you would want to target LinkedIn whereas if your business is able beauty and fashion products you would want to include Pinterest in your social media plan.
Collect all the data on your target audience and analyse it. Find out where your audience is hanging out and which social media users fit into your demographics criteria.
Step #2 : Complete Your Profile
Incomplete social profiles look phishy and give a spammy feeling in customer’s mind. A complete profile on the other hand give a sense of security, builds trust and give a signal that you are serious about your brand and are ready to engage with the customer.
Visuals that you use on your social profiles should be compelling and be designed to appeal customers in the best possible way. Every social media has different sizes for headers and you might want to design it accordingly to avoid accidental cropping off, of images that you designed. Canva is one of the most used (and my personal favorite) tools for designing social media headers.
Apart from the visual, you should write a good bio, which is a pitch of what you offer and should include your main keywords, include the link to your websites, contact email, edit your privacy settings to suit your needs.
2. Understand Your Audience
Now that you know where your audience is hanging out you have your channels selected, you need to dive into your customer’s minds and figure out what do they do on social media and why are they using it?
Find out everything you can about your target audience – define a persona for your audience. Find answers to questions like : what is their household income? What age group do they belong to? Do they kids? Do they have pets? What are their like and dislike? The more you know about your audience the better you can cater them!
How can you get information like this? Survey them! Surveying your customer is the best and the most accurate way to know your audience. You can use tools like Survey Monkey, TypeForms and Google Forms.
3. Find Your Brand Voice
Now that you know you audience more than before, you know what their likes and dislikes are and what kind of posts do they engage with! Try writing and designing your content around that which will keep your audience engaged. Think of social media as a tool and use it communicate with your audience. Answers to questions like these will help you determine the voice you should use for your social profile :How will you using your social media, as a brand or a person? Or how are you planning to communicate with your followers? How are your competitions using their social media?
Step #1: Select The Persona:
What your brand sounds like : Casual, Warm, Inspirational, Playful or Friendly.
Step #2: Select The Tone:
This is what will show what vide you will be spreading: Personal, Direct, Humble or Scientific
Step #3: Select The Language:
You may be the expert in your niche but if you try to sound smarter than your target audience it can turn them off. Choose your language wisely : Simple, Complex, Fun, Serious.
Step #4: Select The Purpose:
Why are you here and what you want to do with your audience: Engage, Educate, Inform, Entertain
Here’s a great example :
If you are able to build a strong relationship with your audience are they more likely to return back to your brand from time and time again. Some example of different types of social media brand voices and how to develop your voice is explained well by Courtney Seiter.
4. Define Measurable Objectives & Goals
What is the reason your are here on social media? What do you want to accomplish on social media? Every business would have different set of objective they want to achieve from their social media marketing. Do you want to create brand awareness, or increase loyalty and retain customers? Do you want to build increase sales or build more website traffic? Don’t pick too many or too less, just go with one or two at a time.
Deciding your goals and objectives early in your efforts will give you a clear measurement weather your strategies are working as you expected or not. When defining goals, focus on the
These objectives should be directly aligned with your business goals, should be realistic and achievable with a defined timeline. What that means is, they should broadly be linked with your general marketing efforts. Increasing social likes, followers or retweets shouldn’t be your goal. If your goal is brand awareness, your objective should be getting atleast 50 mentions every month. Or if your goal is increasing website traffic, your objective should be sending atleast 20,000 new visitors every month.
Once you set your goals, make sure to measure them to analyze the results and revise them from time to time.
5. Choose a Posting Strategy
Great engaging content is very essential for a successful social media strategy. A strong content plan is what you need. Its not just about writing any kind of content with your product information on it, but what your audience wants is fresh information that adds real value, on a regular basis. For example, Buffer posts about 90% of non-promotional and 10% of promotional content.
You will need a content plan which includes all your strategies on content discovery, content creation and content curation, as well as an editorial calendar. Editorial calendar is like your monthly planner that has information with date and time on what will you post on your blog and your social media channels, how often will you post and how many times should you post. Also decide on mixed type of media will you be using : images, video, guides & tutorials, etc. Be consistent with your posting strategy, as social media not a one time thing (which runs on auto-pilot after you set it up) it’s an ongoing process.
How often should you post?
For your reference, here is an estimate on how often should you be posting on your social media channels
When should you post?
Every business has a different set of audience and they way they social media may vary accordingly. So posting times on your business page, according to your followers and audience’s high time could be different than a business page for a someone else’s. There are tools that you can use to find the optimal times for your channels, but someone who is just starting out and has few to none audience there a guide of optimal time that you can use:
What tools will you use?
While working on your posting strategy, you will also need to decide which tools will you be using to make your social media efforts efficient and profitable. There are a various types of tools available and every tool out there serves a different purpose, but here are some of the most common tools:
– Buffer : A social media post scheduling tool which lets you manage all your accounts from one place. You can post your content in their and schedule it according to your time preference or use their pre-defined times
– HootSuite: A tools which lets you manage and publish posts on your social media accounts, listen and engage with your followers and analyze how well your social media efforts are working.
– Canva: A easy drag-and-drop tool that lets you design images for free
– Easely : a free inforgraphic creator tool with some pre-made templates which can be easily customized to your needs.
– Followerwonk: when using the free features it lets you do things like analyze your Twitter followers, compare different users, and search through bios and lets your track and sort your followers in paid version.
– ManageFlitter: A great twitter tool (one of my most used) which lets you keep track of your twitter account by letting you know who doesn’t follow you back, how often does some one posts, how active are they on twitter, in short a manager for your twitter account!
6. Look At Your Competitors & Other Industry Leaders
Studying your competition is the best and the easiest way to find out what works in your industry and what doesn’t! If you miss this step, you are missing out a huge opportunity on attracting your prospects as this give you a chance to fix what your competition has missed out!
To first start with, select four to five competitors and go through their social media, find out what social media channels are they active on, what are they doing there and what are they not doing what their customers say they should do or change. See what kind of content are they sharing and on which content are your customer taking the most interest and engaging (comments, shares, likes, +1s or retweets) the most. For example. if you are in beauty industry are your competitors showing beauty products directly or are they showing tutorial with their products in it? Keep tracking their social media posts and find out what your customers love to engage with.
7. Audit Your Social Presence
If you don’t know where you started from, how will you measure the success of your campaigns? Using a social media audit template will make it a lot easier to track it. This will help you keep track of all your social media accounts, who manages them and what purpose do they serve. It lets your ensure that you stay focused on your goals and measure their success, and should be updated on timely basis.
In general auditing your social media accounts let you decide whether is worth keeping and maintaining that social media account for your business or not.
8. Evaluate and Iterate Your Plan From Time To Time
How would you test and evaluate your social media efforts? Any social media channel you use will have its own analytics feature to give you the insights on your content, go through it every day to analyze the success or mistake you made which should be corrected in future.
See if your social media strategies are working towards your business goals or not. If you don’t get desired results, then you need to re-plan it and test if again. For example, if your goal was to increase website traffic, check your website analytics with Google Analytics and check the social media traffic. If your posts contains URL shorteners track them using its analytics tool. If your goal is to increase leads, check the leads that you are getting through social media and see if meets your expectations! This is constant process and you will need to do it periodically to make the most of your social media plan.
Over the last few years the way people look at social media has change drastically and if you want to see great results you shouldn’t underestimate it. If you aren’t using it right, its gonna hurt your brand reputation.
Follow this strategic plan not for few weeks or few months, but for atleast a year and then a year after to get desired results. It will take some time to figure out the right mix that is designed for your audience and once you have discovered that you will win your customers!
Before you do any of that, let me know in comments below how are you using your social media and what results are you getting from it? How are you planning on changing your strategies with time?