Always start with planning.
If you want to attract and engage social-media fans and followers — and convert them into paying customers — you need to map out a clear, goal-oriented social media plan. If you don’t, it will be obvious to your fans and a target market that you are disorganized. In addition to damaging your brand, you’ll risk losing sales by sending your audience to your competitors.
If you’re starting from scratch, it can feel overwhelming.
You know that others have been successful at social media marketing, but there are so many moving parts that creating a plan of your own can be daunting. If you are brand new to social media and looking for a straightforward way to start, follow the simple advice below.
Steps to Social Media Marketing Success
Research and know your audience. What topics and interests are they are most social about? What problems are they trying to solve? What are their pain points?
Use the same social networks as your audience. Are Facebook and Twitter their platforms of choice? Do most of them use Pinterest and Instagram? Go where your target audience is to create awareness, engagement, and brand ambassadors.
Identify your KPIs (key performance indicators). They measure progress toward your goals. What do you want your social media efforts to accomplish? What does success look like in quantifiable terms?
Write a social media marketing playbook. The playbook should detail your KPIs, audience profiles, brand values and persona, campaign concepts, promotional events, contests, content themed around benefit sought, potential contingency plans, etc. Make sure to tailor strategies that are unique to each of your social media channels.
Align the people at your company with the plan. Get everyone on board with your strategy. Divide responsibilities among your team, such as who is in charge of posting to your blog and each social media network, who will respond to comments and @mentions, and who will own metrics tracking and reporting.
Set aside some time at the beginning of each week to prepare. Take 30-60 minutes to schedule tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, Pinterest pins, and other social media content. Come up with some original ideas, links to your own content, and links to outside content that is useful or interesting to your audience.
Develop a content marketing calendar. Use one of the example spreadsheets that we have created as a starting point to plan content topics, headlines, related links, desired scheduling, name of authors, etc. However please see further on about potential pitfalls.
Treat all of your social channels differently. Don’t post the same message everywhere – remember who the audience is on each platform and how they interact. What works on Facebook will fall flat on Twitter, and vice versa.
Assign someone to act as a customer service rep. It’s vital to be responsive to user-generated content, comments, and feedback (positive or not). CRM (customer relationship management) is fundamental to social media marketing success and business growth.
Schedule metrics reporting. Reporting metrics can occur weekly, monthly, or bimonthly depending on your goals and desired outcomes.
Reanalyze your plan on a regular basis. If something in your plan isn’t working, switch it up or do some split testing to determine what your audience responds to better. Use 2 versions of your content simultaneously and measure to see which one is more successful and use it going forward.
Why Social Media for Business Growth?
The great thing about social media is that it is potentially an excellent way to spread your word of mouth and if you are not geographically restricted, the world is your market. It is worth pointing out that some social platforms are now restricting your audience viewing through their algorithms, however where there is a will there is a way.
Although not free, as social media takes time and knowledge to create the right content, it is still relatively low cost compared to TV, Radio and large scale print advertising.
When managed correctly, social media offers small businesses a cost-effective way to reach their customers.
It’s a trade-off though. What you save in dollars you’ll invest in time. You have to be smart and efficient with the resources you have to achieve the results you need.
Social media is all about connecting with your audience on an authentic level. To do that, you have to intimately understand your current and potential customers, you will have done this as part of your planning and research process.
For any business growth strategy to work, you need to segment your audience, what do they look like, what problem are they looking for you to solve? What are they interested in besides your solution? Distinguish individual character profiles by age, gender, interests, profession, etc. Write down the details and find images that represent your target audience and review it on a regular basis. What makes business growth hard is the humans, we like to change our minds often.
Next, crystallize your message. Based on your defined target audience, what are the key problems or concerns you can address or solve? Expand on and define those pain points for each character and write it under each profile.
Now that you’ve defined your audience and message, take the time to find out which social networks they prefer.
All social media channels are not created equal. It may look like they are the same but each provides a slightly different solution.. It is important to understand the differences so you expend your efforts on the right channels.
Coordinate Your Social Channels
If you treat each social media platform as a stand-alone effort, your success will be limited. Your networks should work together to provide an integrated uniform tone of voice. This also applies to the seven P’s of your marketing mix.
Your website is your brand’s home base. Coordinate your social media efforts to push people to your website where they can buy your product or service.
Use your blog to establish your brand’s voice and share information. It’s also a valuable opportunity to engage with your site visitors and lead them through your sales funnel.
You can optimize your website and blog for social media by adding a few easy elements to your design.
Include a call to action (CTA) in all of your content marketing. Content marketing is about engagement, a call to action will improve your engagement.
You want advocates of your busines and using them to spread your word of mouth, your blogs should have a share option to encourage your fans to spread the word.
When people come across valuable content, they want to share it with their friends and followers. If you don’t have sharing buttons, you’ve lost that opportunity to reach a wider related audience.
A quick break from social media. If you haven’t started an email marketing campaign, I encourage you to start one now. They are still an extremely important tool to stay in front of current and prospective customers.
Get Started, but Start Small
You’ve defined your target audience, you know where to reach them and you’ve optimized your other marketing touch points. It’s time to get social.
This is one of the most important pieces of advice to keep in mind, so listen up! Start small.
Social Media takes time and energy, which are precious resources. Set yourself up for success by starting with a manageable load. I suggest you choose one or two platforms to start with.
The best way to guarantee consistency is to incorporate social media into your daily routine. Block out the time on your calendar, turn off all distractions and dedicate time to managing your social media accounts. Do this in one or two different time slots every day.
In your first month or two, expect to spend a minimum of 15-30 minutes a day on social activities. You can increase the time as you see fit.
Remember those audience profiles and sample messages? Use them to determine what original and curated content you’ll share and create an editorial calendar to keep track of that content.
A Quick Note About Content Calendars
A lot of businesses use content calendars to create a month of posts (for Facebook, Google+ or any other channel) ahead of time and then submit it for review. This seems organized and diligent, which is great however, you must review the stats of any content to ensure you are adapting and improving your posts. Always review prior to creating the content for the next month, or at the very least adapt an plan based on metrics received.
An alternative is to create two types of posts you want to test or creating your posts daily, or at least weekly.
Listen and Share
Social media conversations are happening all around in real time.
Social listening is an excellent tactic to monitor what people are saying about your business. Respond to comments, mentions and feedback even if they’re negative. You want to turn that negative into a positive!
In addition be aware of what your target audience are listening to and sharing and join in the conversation with your own tone of voice.
This is where the content calendar may require changing during the month.
Consider joining groups and communities to target specific demographics. Initiate and participate in more conversations by asking questions and posting comments to updates by others.
Continue to personalize your brand by welcoming new followers and thanking them for sharing your content or offering a compliment.
The last step is the most critical: Measure and analyze your results.
Above all, be intentional about your social activities. Success is not about chance, it’s about strategy and tactics.
When using social media for the growth of your business, the most important thing to remember is that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Use this introduction to social media guide to start your social marketing efforts. Define your audience and choose the best platform to reach them. Do your research, integrate your social media icons and links, share your (and others’) content and keep track of how things are going.
July 27th, 2020