Effective social media marketing can seem pretty overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, or if you’ve just dipped your toe in with a company Facebook account or similar. If you spend too much time poring over articles about your social media strategy plan, you could get the impression that you need a full-time staff of at least ten people to keep your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blog, vlog, forums and more going, with constant updates and crisis management. It’s enough to make you yearn for the days when all you needed was a website and maybe some printed flyers.
But social media doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It’s really just a matter of careful planning, knowing your market and creating a working strategy using a clear social media marketing plan outline. Here are some of the most important steps to take to develop a successful social media strategy.
Step 1: Get clear on your goals
Any marketing campaign or technique needs to start with clear, defined goals, and social media marketing is no different. Before you choose channels, come up with clever catch-phrases or start creating content, you need to know exactly what your social media marketing objectives are.
These objectives can include any marketing-relevant goals, including brand awareness, lead-generation, driving website traffic, or even building your community. You don’t need to have just one goal, but try to keep it to a maximum of two or three, otherwise your campaign messaging is going to get too broad and possibly even lost. In fact, when you’re developing your social media marketing plan outline, it can be useful to focus on one or two primary, overarching goals, and to use short-term, targeted campaigns for others.
Step 2: Identify your target audience and get to know them
If your demographic is stay-at-home moms, then using LinkedIn as your primary social media channel may just fall flat. If you’re targeting high-powered CEOs, then you probably shouldn’t focus on Pinterest. Knowing who your target audience is, which social media platforms they tend to use and how they engage on those channels is critical to your social marketing plan. Take some time to get to know and understand them and you’re going to simplify your media strategy plan significantly.
Step 3: Choose your channels
If you’ve done your job properly with step 2, you know where your target audience is hanging out, how often they do it, and what times of day they are most active. To create a successful social media strategy, you need to home in on the channels where there is the highest engagement, not necessarily the highest number of subscribers. For example, if 20,000 potential clients have an active Twitter account, but only 3,000 of them actively engage, while only 10,000 potential clients are on Facebook, but 8,000 of them are active daily, then Facebook should take priority in your social media plan.
This is not to say you should ignore Twitter, it just means you are likely to find the most active engagement on Facebook. To maximize engagement, choose three primary social media channels to prioritize and keep two or three low-key active for campaign bursts and wider engagement.
Step 3.5: Stay current
It is super-important at this stage to remember that social media is by no means a static thing. What works for your audience this July may not work as well in December, or next July. Your social media marketing plan needs to be an active, living thing that gets regularly monitored and updated when necessary. We suggest you plan for three months and do a thorough review every quarter, while performing monthly or even weekly analytics to make sure your plan is still working. Don’t be afraid to shake it up!
Step 4: Give them great content
Step 2, getting to know your audience, is pretty important for this step as well. You need to understand the kind of content your audience engages with and you need to give them equally good or even better content. Content is also a very fluid concept, so you should regularly monitor feedback to make sure you’re still relevant.
Step 5: Engage with care
Whatever your social media marketing objectives are, you will need to actively engage with your audience. This is often the step where a well-thought-out, carefully planned social media strategy falls apart, especially if the person responding on your behalf doesn’t think their response through thoroughly. It can feel like social media moves lightning-fast, but it bears remembering that five minutes’ thought can save you tons of accidental bad publicity, unintended embarrassment and days’ worth of carefully written, too-little-too-late apologies.
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