What’s Your Social Media Marketing Plan?

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.

Ask Not What Social Media Can Do For You

For social media to be a successful part of any business’ marketing plan, first and foremost, it needs to benefit the customer. No matter whether you’re working B2C or B2B, it’s essential that what you offer via social media is useful and valuable. Otherwise, you’re just another company tweeting and Facebooking into the void.

Social media strategists always start by asking: “What is it you want social media to do for your business?” which is all well and good, but often, it’s a good idea to begin by looking at the situation from the opposite side:

What can social media do for your customers?

What will actually encourage viewers to click that link, or view your site, or comment on your post? What’s in it for them? Worrying prematurely about ROI or traffic increase or brand strength is secondary to the simple act of getting your customers’ attention.

Think about:

Where your targeted customers hang out – Are they Facebookers, Twitter addicts, serious LinkedIn types, multimedia sharers, Redditers or Diggers? Do your research and make contact where you’re most likely to get a response.

How you can be unique – What are your competitors doing and how can you differentiate/offer something better?

Content – What is going to be most useful to your customers and what is going to turn them off? Mix up your posts – don’t just feed in endless blog posts. Offer them product information, up to date news, exterior links to relevant industry news, promotions, local news and most importantly – your own opinions and thoughts – entice them to join your conversation and keep them interested.

Support and customer service – one of the great things about social media is its capacity to act as an almost instant customer service platform. As long as you monitor your profiles regularly, you can help and appease customers extremely quickly and show your clients some attentive love.

Exclusive discounts and promotions – social media is fantastic for luring in customers with competitions and special offers. Try to get them involved by adding an extra dimension to their participation – ask for their best stories/ideas/jokes on a specific subject, rather than having them just clicking ‘like’ to be entered into a prize draw. Get them talking and engaged with your company and your brand.

Funsocial media is an ideal way to show your business’ personality. Stay within the realms of good taste and political correctness of course, but utilise the chance to display a human face behind the company – show your customers you appreciate them and value their opinions.

Once you’ve implemented these considerations into your social media plan, then you can start thinking about how to approach each aspect to achieve your marketing goals. All of these things can be adapted to suit different approaches – whether you want to see higher search ranking, more traffic to your site, brand awareness, customer loyalty, ROI – you first need to work out the best way of appealing to your desired audience.