If you are a marketer you’ll already be familiar with a marketing strategy and plan. Social Media Marketing is no different – to succeed you must have a strategy.
Whether you want to use Social Media Marketing to launch a new product, promote an existing one, improve customer loyalty or improve brand awareness, a social media strategy is crucial for knowing where you are going, what you want to achieve from your Social Media Marketing efforts and what resources you will need. As with most things in business, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
So what should your Social Media strategy contain?
I recommend that you include details of these 9 important areas and add as many more as you need for your particular business. Use this article as a checklist and brainstorming tool.
1. Your target audience – who are they and how do they prefer to network? What Social Media tools do they currently use?
2. Your goals – what are they and how do you plan to achieve them? Do you want to attract more prospects? Improve customer loyalty? Attract a new audience? Get buzz for your project? You must know the answers to these questions.
3. Your success measures – how will you know you’ve succeeded? Will it be through product downloads or trials? The number of people clicking through to your site? Or the number of qualified leads you gain?
4. Your competitors – Do they have a large Social Media presence or none at all? What type of campaigns are they doing? If they are doing nothing, you could grab the advantage. Google your competitors and see what you find.
5. Your Social Media content – are you planning to use video, audio, or written content? See what your audience likes and use what they like to use.
6. What’s “your soft offer?” – How will you convert your prospects into sales or customers? What’s your lead capture/nurturing plan? It could be a free whitepaper or a case study or a report. Whatever it is, outline it in your plan
7. Your Social Media Tools – Will you use YouTube, a blog, Twitter, Facebook? Community forums? Not every tool will work for you, some will work better than others. Often the only way to find out is to try them and see. Having a strategy makes it easier because you can make a decision as to what to try and why. You can track the results of each tool you try.
8. Your resources – Most Social Media tools cost little or nothing to set up and run. However, there is a considerable investment of time required for any Social Media effort to have long term success. For example, who will keep your blog updated? How will you address comments so that the blog is truly interactive and conversational? How many people do you need to allocate? What’s your plan for tracking – and acting on what your stats tell you?
Most people don’t consider these questions until after they’ve started. If you can answer these questions early on you will be prepared and more likely to avoid frustration and failure. You should also carefully consider the time you can afford to invest compared to what’s actually needed.
9. Last, but certainly not least, how will you encourage word of mouth marketing and the viral nature of Social Media? How do you plan to get people talking about you without “you talking about you?” This is a significant advantage of using Social Media, however it doesn’t simply happen.
The sheer volume of social media tools and opportunity can be overwhelming. A Social Media strategy will help you cut through the noise, make better choices and select what works for your audience, your company and your objectives. It will position you to meet many of the seemingly huge hurdles to getting started and will almost certainly make you more successful in your Social Media efforts.
Think of it as your road map to success.