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Social Media Marketing... what's that again?

You hear people talk about social media marketing plans, but figuring out how to put a plan together can be tough to do.  Where do you start? What goes into it? Why do you need it? Let's start with the "why."  Jason DeMers wrote an article for Forbes in 2014, It was entitled "The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing." Check out these statistics he presented.
  • "92% of marketers in 2014 claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites." -Hubspot
  • 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use.- Social Media Examiner
If most of us are using it but don't know how, then that's where a plan and training come in. Having a mission statement is key.  A mission statement is defined as "why you are in business and what you are doing now." Following your mission statement, your Social Media Marketing plan should include not only goals but tactics for achieving them.  You should list at least three goals.  They need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.  It makes for the acronym S.M.A.R.T., and it is an intelligent start to making a plan. From Jean Folger on Investopedia:
A good example of a SMART goal may sound like, “I want to add 300 new fans each month during the second quarter of 2013.” At the end of the Q2, you will be able to tell if you’ve met your goal or not. You will also be able to measure how you are progressing toward your goal at the end of each month.
  • SPECIFIC: It states exactly what you want to do.
  • MEASURABLE: A goal number is attached.
  • ATTAINABLE: It's not a far-fetched goal (to some)
  • RELEVANT: It is consistent with a social media strategy.
  • TIME-BOUND: There's a specific deadline to achieve the goal by.

"Regardless of the methodology used to create goals," Folger continues, "you will need to define what you want to accomplish with social media. Your goal should be something specific and measurable so that you will know the moment you’ve reached it."

Audience

Also in all of this, you need to figure out your audience and which social media platform is the best way to reach them. "..an in-depth and detailed approach to laying out your marketing strategy can reveal opportunities from a new audience or potential product line, pitfalls in pricing, competition reaction, and potential reach," writes Marci Martin of Business News Daily.  "At its most basic, a marketing plan describes who your customers are, where they get information and how you are going to reach them."

How to and where

It's also smart to consider looking at your social media accounts, how you're using them, and really how they should be used.  And don't feel like you have to be on all of them!  Your customers may love Facebook but largely ignore Twitter.  It's all about finding out what they want and where they "hang out."  Your goals will also guide you as to which platforms to use as will whatever strategy you decide to employ.  Once you figure out your goals, your audience, how and where to post, etc., you can then employ the tactics you need to make it all come together. 


Tactics

Your tactics are best approached once your strategy is in place- if that makes sense.  Once you figure out your goals, your audience, how and where to post, etc., you can then employ the tactics you need to make it all come together. Tactics "are the tasks involved with implementing the strategy," Monique Terrell writes on TalentZoo. "This is where it can get tricky (or clearer) about where social media fits. The "tactics" when it comes to social media are really more about content development than overall social media."


But do you have the time?


In setting up your plan, ask yourself this very important question: "Do I have the time to devote to a real social  media campaign?" Content is the way to keep your current fans and followers and grab the attention of new ones.  Many suggest posting on Twitter at least 5 times a day and Facebook once or twice a day.  The first one or two weeks may seem easy, but what about week three and beyond? If you don't feel that you can commit the time or staff it takes to create fresh content, it might be best to outsource it.  This doesn't mean you outsource everything.  A 2013 Forbes article suggests it's possible to keep some social media in-house, but it's wise to have an outside part helping you out.  The article quotes Eve Mayer.
"People expect me to say outsource, outsource, outsource, because that’s one of the things we do,” Mayer says. “But we also help companies find people internally to do social media. Let’s say someone in your company is a great photographer and they like to use Instagram. Utilize that person appropriately, lay out for them the business goals you want to achieve."
Mayer also talked about content becoming stale because the same internal staff is posting everything. “Or an entrepreneur will do it halfway. They’ll be on Twitter and post once a week and that kind of frequency is not enough,” she's quoted as saying. A good content calendar comes into play here.  You can create posts well in advance.  We'll talk about that next time!

Let's Get Visual, Visual!

Fresh content isn't just words anymore.  You need visual content to compete. Videos, pictures, infographics, etc.  People crave information, but they also like visuals.  Those visuals can help you get exposure to more potentials fans, followers and customers. "The key to getting results is getting engagement," Jinger Jarrett wrote in Inquisitr. The more engagement a business can get on a post, the more that post will be shown to other users who haven’t seen it."


The Look and Sound of Social

So you have all this information about your possible strategy.  You've got your goals, worked your way o some tactics, taken a look at your audience and your platforms.  The question now is what will those social profiles look like to viewers?  Is you short description too long on Facebook?  Does your Twitter bio accurately and succinctly tell people what you're about, so it drives them to your site? And then there's the way you post.  What will you sound like to your customers and potential customers or followers?  Is your tone always humorous?  Are you completely straight-laced? Or will there be some combination?

Listen More Than Talk

Susan Gunelius writes in Entrepreneur "The Law of Listening" should definitely be a part of your strategic plan. "Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them," Gunelius suggests. "Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives." Social is indeed social.  This is a conversation.  Not a showcase.  That brings us to Gunelius' "Law of Reciprocity."

You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.

Freaking out?

Don't. Much of this is trial and error.  As you begin to employ your strategy, you will learn what your followers like, what they dislike, what works, what doesn't work, what gets retweets and shares, what gets nothing at all but space in a timeline. "Once a business determines which content works best, then it’s a simple matter of creating more of the same type of content to get better results," Jarrett writes.

You can determine what works best with analytics.  Some platforms have analytics built into them.  This will help you measure some of the goals you set out to accomplish.  Pay attention to things like clicks to your website and then how much time they spent on your page. "..one of the main benefits of conducting your marketing digitally is the ease with which results can be tracked and monitored," writes Terry Irwin in BusinessZone. "Rather than conducting expensive customer research, you can quickly view customer response rates and measure the success of your marketing campaign in real-time, enabling you to plan more effectively for the next one."

Other ways to measure it could include increased revenues or leads.  It just depends on the types of goals you began with. “Having social media just for the sake of social media is ridiculous,” Mayer says in the aforementioned Forbes article. “There have to be actual gains you want to achieve.”

Full circle, here.  Goals, goals, goals. 

"Without goals and objectives for your social media, you can't build a plan for what you're going to say, or how to encourage likers/followers to do what you want them to," Sasha Wasley writes on Social Media Today. "It's an overused analogy, but how do you get to your destination without a roadmap?"
If you need help, drop me a line.  The Nerd Approach® can do a Communications Audit for you and develop a Strategic Communications Plan.  This service contains all of the things I've written about here and more.