Social media is more than just a fun way to engage and communicate with friends. When strategically implemented, it can be an extremely powerful business marketing tool.
However, a common mistake that most businesses make is failing to develop a solid social media marketing plan. Having the perfect plan for social media marketing is essential. Every savvy business owner does not buy traditional advertising without developing a plan, and the same principle applies with social media.
A social media marketing plan includes numerous similar elements of a traditional marketing plan. Market research and consumer purchasing is a must. Identifying brand strengths and weaknesses is also important. If you are clueless about how to start your social media marketing strategy, here is six handy steps to be successful in social media:
1. Assign a social media manager
With the number of tasks involved on running a successful business, social media can be accidentally left out. Before your business starts on a social media campaign, it is good to assign a person or multiple people who will be in charge of monitoring and posting content. It is important for the social media manager(s) to not only ensure content is posted on a regular basis, but also monitor and respond to all comments and feedback. The assigned staff should be willing to monitor the company’s social pages 24/7, which can be easily accomplished through e-mail alerts and mobile apps.
2. Create branded pages
Once you have assigned your social media manager(s), it’s time to create branded pages. First, you need to determine which social media sites that you want to use. Small businesses should consider Facebook, Twitter and Google+ at the very least. In some cases, other sites including LinkedIn, Pinterest and Houzz may also be good choices.
Most social media channel today has cover picture feature. It has big flexibility that you should not waste. The feature allows you to incorporate some specific elements for maximum impact. Here are some ideas for you:
- Use high resolution photograph. Ugly photograph looks unprofessional.
- You can integrate your profile picture into your cover photo, thus creating a bigger image.
- Incorporate a call to action to the cover picture.
- Point out where people can call or contact you.
After you create your branded social media pages, be sure to include links on your website and invite all of your customers and friends to like/follow your pages.
3. Create a planning calendar
Now that your social sites are “live”, it is time to create a planning calendar. Ideally, this should be done on a monthly basis. Your planning calendar should outline the following things:
- Number of posts per week.
- Time the post will be made. Ideally, you should vary your posting times.
- Identify the content for each post.
A planning calendar should contains the basic foundation of your goals. The calendar ensures you to maintain your social sites and post on a regular basis. Of course, you can also post other news, tips and ideas as they arise. Be flexible. The biggest pitfall businesses run into are they generally have a lot of excitement when they first establish their social media presence, but the momentum quickly fades. Having a monthly planning calendar will help keep your social media efforts moving forward.
4. Generate engaging content
Content is a king, thus engaging content is a must. Once you generate content, you can plug it into the dates/times you have reserved on your social media calendar to compose posts. As you consider content, think outside of your company and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You should think about what type of information that is not only engaging, but something that followers would like to share. Creating shareable content is one of the quickest ways to pick up new followers.
Here are some content ideas:
- Weekly tips and advice.
- Post something humorous, but not offensive.
- Highlight and recognize your customers.
- Incorporate “social media only” offers.
- Be interactive. Ask questions people will want to answer.
- Add photos and videos.
- Coupons and contests.
- Product overviews.
- “How To” videos.
- Sales and special events.
Remember, maintain the attention of your followers to keep them engaged.
5. Monitor responses and track your results
Monitor all comments and respond in a timely manner is quite impossible, especially if you receive tons of them. Good or bad, all feedback needs to be addressed. If someone praises your product and/or service, thank them. On the other hand, if they have a complaint or concern, reach out to them. It is important to investigate the validity of the negative comment and address it immediately. Customer feedback can help you better understand reaction to your products and services.
Also be sure to incorporate a good tracking system. This can really provide important insight into your customers and their behavior. Companies such as Global Response provide excellent outsourced social media analytics programs that can be easily incorporated and integrated into your social strategy.
6. Use results to better understand consumer behavior and reaction to your products/services
What a better way to know customer demand than to ask them yourselves? Don’t be afraid to engage your followers and get their opinions. Doing so can help identify both areas of strength and weakness.
Social media may intimidates many small businesses. However, if you approach it like any other form of marketing and develop a plan, it can become a very useful and effective tool which complements your traditional marketing strategies. Good luck!