Designing an effective social media marketing plan is a process that cannot be done overnight. If you have not focused on social media, are a new startup or have failed miserably at your previous attempts, this article will show you the steps necessary to develop, implement and evaluate your strategy going forward to make a real difference in your business.
Your Business Goals
Any marketing plan should be an extension of your overall business goals. Depending on the life cycle stage of your business there should be different goals of your marketing department. A new startup company's marketing strategy is much different than a company with 100 years of history. Typically the startup is looking to brand themselves and make the consuming public aware of their existence while the longstanding business is looking to keep its brand awareness relevant, compete for market share and ingratiate themselves further into their customers lives.
So the most important first step in Social Media Marketing is to determine your overall goals for your marketing department as a whole and then specifically social media. Of course, remembering that social media is meant to be an engagement tool, not only a selling tool. Your main goals may be to be build brand awareness for the company, or to promote your products and services. Both of which are different strategies in marketing to promote a business. This will also determine much in the way of your tactical use of Social Media.
Most often referred to as your target market, this represents your largest groups of customers. If you do not know who your customers are there is no defined way to start targeting them. Are they university students that spend most of their time on Tumblr or are they elderly that consistently use Facebook. There are many social media platforms and finding out where your customers are, their socio-economic status and their mannerisms will help you employ a strategy that markets directly to their needs.
The better you can target your customers the easier it will be to make conversions from a Facebook follower to an actual customer. You will also waste less resources advertising to those that will never convert into clients.
Industry research into your competitors will also provide an unprecedented amount of information into your industry's marketing tactics. Look at the most successful businesses in your category for an idea how they are making social media work for them. Identify the social networks they are using and the types of content they are employing. How many followers do they have and how often do they post to their social media accounts? These types of numbers and research will help you narrow down your tactical efforts in social media marketing.
The biggest aspect of social media marketing you want to be able to emulate is competitors that are getting great engagement; things like followers, shares, likes or retweets. These show an active fan base. Measure this engagement by dividing their engagement activities by their followers and use it as a base to measure your own tactics.
After your research is finished, you then start implementing your own social media plan. Choose the most appropriate platforms. Develop content that suits your audience and post often enough to develop engagement with your fans.
Lastly, however you need to be constantly revaluating your strategy. As your customer demographics shift so should your strategy. If a new network comes online, it should be evaluated. If a network drastically decreases you need to evaluate why and consider dropping it. Use analytical tools to your advantage in these decisions.
Doing the legwork before the plan is put in place will save you time and money, do it right the first time so you will not have to do it again.