Thursday, March 5, 2015

Steps to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy and Plan

With the massive number of people actively participating in online social communities, it's become a necessity for your business to get organized with your social media marketing.  As social media continues to change the way people communicate, it is an increasingly important tool for small businesses.

Here are some steps and tips to help you get started:

1. Define Your Goals
It's critical to specifically define what you want to achieve through social media. Your goals for social media should relate to your overall goals for your business and tie in with your sales and marketing plans.

For example, you may want to use social media to:

  • Build your brand-name recognition and credibility
  • Execute online customer support - answering questions about products/services
  • Increase sales through offers
  • Drive traffic to your web site or a landing page
  • Promote a new line of products
2. Define Your Target Audience and Where You'll Find Them

A business must have a clear understanding of who they are targeting.  Find out which social media channels your audiences prefer and what information they read, share and post.
If you need help figuring out where to find your target markets, check out research organizations such as Pew Research Center that publish valuable studies with this data.

3. Competitive Analysis
Check out your competitor's social media pages! Where are they and what kind of presence do they have?  How can you position your company in relation to the competition? Use a competitive analysis to help craft your own social media strategy and plan.

4. Content Strategy and Plan
Your content strategy needs to directly support your goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase sales through offers, then you might implement a strategy to issue a monthly discount coupon to existing customers or an introductory discount to new customers.
Also consider developing useful information that's of interest to your target audiences. Choose three to five hot topics or categories of information that you'll post about. Your content should be relevant and fresh, and focus on the clients rather than on your company. What does your audience want to read? What do they want to learn? Remember to plan a variety of content types( text, article links, photos, video, coupons, etc.)
-Posting Frequency
Instead of posting randomly, decide how often you'll post on each network . Remember- consistency is key.
-Create a Content Calendar
To ensure that you cover all the topics that you intend to, and that you pay attention to all of your chosen social medial platforms, consider creating an editorial calendar. Try using an Excel spreadsheet to plan out and outline what, when and where you'll be posting. Try using a social media management and scheduling application such as Hootsuite to schedule posts to social media sites in advance.

5. Track Your Progress
Measure your social media results based on the objectives you set. Check your each social media site's analytics such as click throughs (number of people who took action on your post) and click through rates (percentage of people who click on your offer out of all the people who saw it),
Make it easier to track your results by including a call to action in each campaign or on each platform. Use a unique promotion code or develop targeted landing pages.
In today’s connected world, where customers research purchases online and seek recommendations from friends and family, it is in the best interest of most small businesses to not only have a social media presence but an organized plan to get results.
Sources: Social Media Examiner and Investopedia/Jean Folger

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