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Social media is a highly time-consuming marketing strategy that takes thought and planning. It can prove to be one of the most challenging modes of marketing as it requires breaking through the already crowded digital landscape to become effective.
Regardless of what you think of social media, the hard truth is it’s a must for any business trying to make it today. Whether you have already tried it and given up, or still out there trying to make it work or have avoided it altogether, today is the day to put a social media plan in place to make your online marketing efforts more successful.
Know Your Brand
This step can be harder for smaller companies that haven’t given who they are much thought. If you sell pizza, you are a pizza joint. If you are a printer, you provide printing services. Right? Well, yes and no.
Creating a business today has to go beyond the products and services you offer. You have to create a brand that will attract people to your services because your brand is what sets you apart from the rest. Consider all aspects of your business and look for things that are uniquely yours. If you are a pizza joint, your unique selling point might be that you specialize in locally sourced ingredients and want to keep your business sustainable. If you are a printer, you might be committed to the environment, and so you use speciality inks and recycled paper.
Define your brand, and you are on your way to creating excellent content.
Know Your Audience
Now that you have a better idea of who you want to be, you can consider a more specific audience. Already, you can see how the first step ties into the second. You can look at a more select persona for your audience and focus on what will attract them to your social media pages. Some things to consider when looking at your target audience are:
- Job title
- Pain points (that your business can solve)
- Most used social network
Know Your Current Social Media Channels
You have to know where you are and how you are performing on social media today. That means doing an audit of your social media presence. Here's your social media audit checklist:
- Which platforms are you using today?
- Are your pages fully optimized using all features of the platform such as photos, cover images, bio/about, and so on?
- Which pages are getting the best results?
- What posts get the best results (e.g., likes and shares)?
- Who is connecting with you?
- How frequently are you posting?
Basically, you want to establish what is working and what is not. You can also take a look at what pages are providing the most challenging to maintain compared to the results.
There might be a need to take down some of your pages to focus on the social media channels that make the most sense for your brand. This means determining what social media platforms make the most sense for your audience and ideal customer. To help you decide which pages to shut down ask yourself two questions:
- Is my ideal customer likely to be using this platform?
- Have my efforts helped me achieve any of my business goals?
If you answer no to either or both, chances are you could focus on other platforms to build your presence on social.
One more important aspect of an audit is to look for impostor accounts. It is not uncommon for criminals to set up fraudulent accounts for a number of suspect purposes. Imposter accounts can be very harmful as they can use techniques that can blacklist you from searches. If you find anything that could be an imposter account, make sure to report them right away.
A competitive analysis will provide even more improvements that you can make to your own social media pages. You can see where competitors seem to be hitting the mark and where they are falling short.
Looking at competitors also helps you see what the industry is doing so that you know where there might be opportunities to be unique, as well as areas you will have to cover on your own pages.
You can also look for dominance. A competitor might be killing it on Instagram but be doing nothing on Twitter. That leaves another opportunity for you to dominate. All of this information will help you fine-tune your own social efforts to outdo the competition.
Set Up & Optimize Accounts
Use your audit findings to look for opportunities to improve your existing profiles. Look at every feature available so that there are no holes in the pages you have created.
Make sure you have optimized your pages with contact info, company history and info, product and service descriptions, and good use of photos and video when you can. You should always verify your accounts to make sure you lessen the chance of imposter accounts popping up.
If this is your first stab at social media, set up your pages using the same premise to optimize your pages.
Create Mission Statements
It is not enough to create a generic mission statement for your social media pages. Instead, you should create a mission statement for each channel. That will help you determine what you want to use each platform for from customer service to creating a community.
You should consider who your ideal customer is and use their needs and pain points to focus your mission statements further. There are nine areas to consider for your mission statement:
- Brand awareness
- Driving traffic to your website
- Sales Leads
- Create engagement
- Create a community
- Improve customer service
- Press engagement (e.g., news stories, magazines, and industry websites)
- Collect valuable feedback
Always make sure that you focus on creating content that is mission appropriate. That keeps the lines from blurring, and you won’t begin to lose people by sending mixed messages. For example, if you are going to use Facebook to answer customer questions, avoid filling the feed with promotional info.
Set Up Metrics
Metrics are the only way you can show your social efforts are working. That can be important in companies where a budget is required to run your social media marketing. It is also important to help track what you are doing right so that you can build on your success. Some of the most important metrics include:
- Conversion rate
- Time spent on the website
- Brand mentions
- Total shares
With the right metrics, you can tweak your content and even rethink your strategy. For example, if you continuously seem to miss the mark over a long period of time on a certain page, the platform might just not be working for your brand.
You can also determine where your best efforts will get the best ROI. Look beyond vanity metrics. Look at leads, web referrals, and the all-powerful conversion rate.
You can continue to experiment but know where your value is. That way, you can increase posts that tend to get the best results based on your mission statements. In fact, it is not unheard of to change a mission statement if results are great but clearly not related to the statement you had in mind. If you were using Facebook for brand awareness but more people seem to be looking for customer service, switch your focus to meet expectations.
Schedule Engaging Content
All of your research and the other steps of your plan should help put you in a better position to plan your content. No matter how strong your social media plan is, if you don’t follow it all up with strong engaging content, your social efforts will fail.
Create a social media content calendar to show what you wish to publish when and on what channel. Mix things up using images, link sharing to blog posts, videos, and clever text to keep people engaged. Your calendar should be manageable for your team and take into consideration optimal posting times.
Come up with a balanced mix based on your mission statements. There are a number of formulas to consider. Perhaps the simplest is the 80/20 rule, which is 80% dedicated to information, education, and entertainment, and 20% is dedicated to selling. There is also the rule of thirds idea, which provides one third to shared ideas from thought leaders, one third to personal interactions with your followers, and one third to your business with the purpose to convert and create profit.
All in all, you have many different avenues to generate strong content including:
- Leveraging your own blog content
- Repurposing other marketing efforts such as landing pages, video, offers, and more
- Posting and sharing industry news
- Using influencers
- User-generated content (UGC)
- Tips and tricks such as recipes or unusual ways to use your products
- Asking followers questions to generate conversations
- Using hashtags to help generate more UGC
Your social media plan will help you create meaningful engagement with your audience. Your plan should grow and adapt as your audience shows you what they need from you. With a solid plan and constant re-evaluation, you will get the best results from your social marketing efforts.