So you have made the commitment to really start looking at social media as a genuine and valuable marketing tool and not just a place for sharing funny pictures and celebrity videos. It means that you know social media is where your customers are, you have read the statistics and heard about the case studies and you’re now ready to dive in and start benefiting from this truly amazing marketing opportunity.
Maybe you have already signed up for a Facebook business page and have posted few times, perhaps you have got a company twitter account or LinkedIn and you have placed links of your new social media platforms on your website to show your audience how your business is relevant and applicable to them and their needs. But what next?
How to create a 9 part social media marketing plan for your business
A social media marketing plan is like a mini-marketing plan depending on whether or not you already have a company-wide marketing plan in place will detect the level and detail of your social media marketing plan, but even if you are starting from scratch, a social media marketing plan is still a great place to start to ensure that you get your bases covered and time spent on social media wouldn’t be wasted.
1. Current Analysis
The first step is to identify what you are already doing and what social platform you are onto, from here you can decide on the next strategic step to take. You have already gotten some few accounts set up did they have customized headers and branding? Do you have any followers or likes? And if you do, are they engaged?
These are valuable things to list out as they may cut down on work later – both in the initial set up and in a possible decision to abandon the platforms as you don’t really need to be active on them all. The odds are good that only one or two social media channels are going to provide the best results for your marketing campaign.
2. Competitor Analysis
While it is often a good idea to lead rather than follow, it is still prudent to be aware of what the competition is doing. Making a list of competitors and their current social media usage can indicate one or two things:
The first is if they are doing it well it can prove the audience are really interested in the social media platforms they are using which will be reflected by the numbers of like and share on their page. And if they are not doing it well, will give you an opportunity to provide a service that is not currently being offered.
3. Set Out Goals
Having an established set of goals is important to prevent endless hours on a social platform that may provide little or no value. It is important to set out your objectives before jumping into the heavy traffic of social media and you have to know where you want to be in the end.
Is your goal to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Build social authority? It is imperative to know that each set of goals comes with its own set of specific tactics and time requirement. You can then evaluate these set goals and have a better understanding of what strategy to use for implementation.
Given the goals set in the previous step, now how are you going to achieve them? A few common social media marketing strategies include:
- Influencing – does your brand have a position in the marketplace or something it stands for? Do you have a particular view in your industry or something you can share or contribute?
- Listening, – using Google alert, and a program called mention to highlight when your name or brand is used online.
- Engaging – will dictate how you are going to respond or answer comments and also, how you’re going to seek and increase participation and commenting on your social page.
- Contributing – is Content Marketing at its finest and this is where social media marketing really thrive.
When you think of social media as a communication tool and as a means rather than the end, it allows you to understand its true power in sharing content and adding values to your audience.
5. Target market
This is perhaps the single most important part of any social media marketing plan and quite frankly any marketing strategy in general. Because not clearly identifying your ideal target market and your potential audience means that you are likely to miss the mark and maybe miss the whole target in your marketing campaign.
This is because when it comes to clearly identifying your ideal customers many of your target markets may not be on the social media platform or channel you think or you may want to to use. Which means investing time, money, and energy there will be a complete waste of resources. Knowing the details about your target market and the key statistics around which social media platform they tend to use can help you to determine what content to post when to post, and how.
When most people think social media, they tend to think only about Facebook, and maybe Instagram, Twitter, or possibly Pinterest. The truth is there are tons of other related tools available under the header of social media that may or may not be suitable for your needs. This includes blogs, podcasts, webinars, videos, photo sharing, discussion boards and forums, Q&A sites like Quora and yahoo answers, mobile apps and location marketing. But here is the good news, you don’t need to use them all and in fact, it is probably best to select only one or two to start and focus on doing them well.
Determining which social platform depends on your business, goals, and of course, your target market and also when you create content because it is really important to create content and if you do what are you going to create content about? Are you simply planning to share content on your social media platform that others create? If that’s the plan where will you get it from? And what topic would you want to focus on? These are all the things to consider when forming a social media marketing plan.
Monitoring your progress gives you the opportunity to look back at your goals and see how you’re doing and most importantly to see if you are making any progress. The ability to track and monitor your performance on social media and see how things are actually working out is one of the key aspects of having a social media marketing plan. The best and easiest way to do this is by using something called the key performance indicator (KPI).
The KPI is a marketing term that allows us to really identify what is important and measuring them. The key with using the KPI is not to get overwhelmed and start measuring every single data available to you, but instead keep it simple and focus on only the important metrics. The ones that are relevant to your goals and the ones that actually show improvement.
Having a social media marketing budget is an important aspect of the social media marketing plan because contrary to popular belief, social media in a business context is not free. There is a cost involved with the time to set everything up to planning, implementation, and as well as advanced options like monitoring, content creation, sharing, and the increasingly important aspect of promotion.
This is why every year more and more companies move a greater amount of their budget into social media and they’re doing it for the right reason. The sweet spot to start realizing returns on social media marketing tends to occur for most smaller businesses around the 7 – 14 hours of per week range. Depending on what you are doing now this may seem like an awfully large number and most small business owners can hardly afford it.
Fortunately, there are a host of tools and resources that are available to help make this number a little more attainable, these include scheduling and content tools like Friends+me, Contentcal Hootsuite, Buffer, and Edgar, as well as design tools like canva and a number of royalty-free online photo sites to help you find just the right image for the job.
And of course, you can always hire a contractor, freelancer, or a social media agency to help take some of the load off. But make no mistake, allocating a certain part of your budget to social media marketing is money well spend provided the plan you have set up is well followed, structured, and in line with your business goals and objectives.
9. Return on investment
Calculating a quantitative return on investment with social media can be a difficult task due to its large amounts of qualitative results. It is challenging, after all, to put in an exact amount on improving brand perception, increasing brand awareness, or the number of customers reached or impressions gained through exposure from social media. With that said, you can and most definitely should track it. A good place to start is tracking pre-social media sales and post-social media sales.
These are somewhat broad and general but still a valid approach especially if you haven’t made to many other changes in your business. Also, keep in mind your cost of audience or customer acquisition and lifetime value of the customer – is it becoming cheaper and easier to acquire new customers? Or are they staying longer, spending more and telling more of their friends and families about you? If so, you’re on the right track of your social media marketing plan.
At the end of the day, a good social media marketing plan is well worth the investment social media isn’t going away anytime soon, and it has delivered some very good results from companies ranging from small solopreneurs and shops all the way to billion-dollar enterprises.
But like most things they key is to start where you are and with what you have but start today. You don’t need a multi-million dollar budget to take advantage of these tools. A well planned and a thought out campaign can deliver a significant return on investment to those businesses and entrepreneurs who are willing to be more social.