When people talk about having a social media marketing strategy, you have to realize that this is not something that will adhere to a specific set of rigid rules. Quite the opposite actually, creativity is king in this domain. If you are one who likes order and a straight forward way of doing things, then this may be a little tricky for you at first. Social media is definitely a soft science as it is very human and very responsive to the human condition. And as you would expect, a social media marketing strategy is certainly a soft science as well.
But fear not, like most things, skills and crafts can be developed as long as one if willing and devoted. Thus, creating a solid social media marketing strategy can certainly be learned and embraced by all of us – as we will learn in this article. What to expect to learn:
Establish Social Media Marketing Strategy Goals
Setting goals for your social media campaigns must be your very first act. Because that is what the rest of your activities will be based upon. You must know where you are going, otherwise, you will be spinning your wheels.
Establishing social media marketing strategy really depends on where you are at relative to where you want to go – correct?
Perhaps a good place to start is accessing the following benchmarks:
Web Traffic – Since you are interested in social media in the first place, it is safe to assume that you need web traffic and visitors to be driven to a company website, blog, and even a Facebook page. Is this something that you need more of? Are you satisfied with your present level of website traffic?
Retaining Customers – Have you notice a drop off in your customer list? Are they no longer participating in your online entities and not responding to your dialog? Perhaps you are needing a new source of online clients and would like for your social media strategy to attain more of those.
Low Quality Customer Service – Has your present level of customer service not met expectations? Social media is a great way to address this. Your staff can make themselves available live during the work day – customer service doesn’t get much better than that.
Strengthen Your Brand – Brand awareness is always a good reason for developing a social media strategy. If you are having problems coming up with a goal for your social media campaign, then let me suggest that you use this one.
Establish Social Marketing Objectives
Okay – now that you have set goals for yourself, you are in position to establish some activities to get you there. Otherwise, your goals are just a puff of hot air – you’d be surprised how many businesses are content with just having the hot air.
If you have kept pretty good metrics and they are easily available for evaluation (easily is the key word here), then you shouldn’t have much trouble setting your objectives. If you don’t have these, then you’ll be doing some trail blazing.
You have to have a pretty good grip on how your particular online metrics shake out in your particular business. In other words, how many impressions will give you a click through? And how many click throughs will give you a sale? And also questions like do those metrics apply to text or display ads? And do you get different results with different social media sites? The answer to that last one will be yes, but you need to know what those results are.
When you know what to expect from a given number of potential client actions, then you pretty much know what your final numbers will be. This will tell you how much exposure you will need.
Now I realize that some of the potential goals may not be about sales, you may want to increase brand awareness for instance. Well, you can establish social marketing metrics for these too. How? Establish your present level of brand awareness by sending out a survey about your brand and offer something of value to everyone who participates. Now perform specific brand exposure activities for a period of time and then repeat the survey. That will give you a result for the brand exposure rate you applied.
If you have no metrics to begin with, then just start somewhere and measure them after a few weeks or a month or so to give you a rough estimate to work from. Simply keep adjusting your activities and keep measuring your results and you have working metric in no time at all.
Identify Your Typical Social Marketing Client
I am always surprised at how few businesses actually take the time to identify their customers. This is such an important part of any social media marketing strategy. Many of them think they know their customers, but actually most of them don’t. The sad thing is that it’s really not that difficult of a thing to do – yes, it is a lot of work, but it’s pretty simple really.
I think a lot of people feels that if they drill down to a certain customer, then they will be excluding a lot of other potential customers. After all, we won’t as many clients as possible, right? Of course we do, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Let me ask you this. Would you listen to a radio station that played rap, country, classical, jazz, and pop music? Of course you wouldn’t. You tune into a certain radio station because you want to hear a certain type of music, don’t you? Well, when you refuse to identify your ideal customer, that’s exactly what you are doing – trying to appeal to everyone. This sounds great in theory – but it won’t happen.
Now consider this – a potential customer reads your sales page and feels like it is talking directly to him (or her). As they read, they said to themselves .. “YES! That’s exactly what has been happening to me!!” Don’t you think you have a better shot at making them a permanent customer when they feel those things while reading your sales letter? Of course!
This is exactly why you need to know who your customer is. You need to know what gender they are, what age group, education level, marital status, income level, and so forth. When you know them well, then you understand their plight and can speak passionately about things that matter to them. And when you can do that, my friend, you will have no problem making sales.
The great thing about social media advertising data is that it precisely identifies the demographics of ad clickers. Never before have business been able to deliver information to targeted audiences with this much precision.
Evaluate The Social Media Presence of Your Competitors
Hopefully you saw how we stressed how much data is available on social media regarding your potential clients. The same thing can be said for your competitors as well. Never before have we been able to assess so much information about our competition. Just for general website SEO data, we can quickly evaluate how many backlinks, how many keywords they rank for, and so forth – if we know how and we have a few inexpensive tools.
As far as observing another person’s successful social media marketing strategy, you can always visit their Facebook fanpage and examine the content they post and the interaction they receive. Then you can start interacting with them yourself and get their visitors interested in your Facebook page as well.
If you are just starting out in the social marketing world and have no clue where to begin, you can always start by watching your competitors and use their actions as a template. Don’t copy their content, you will want to use your own voice, but with this information, you know what to start and what your actions have to be if you want to surpass your competitors.
If you spend some time and examine the social media actions of your top ten competitors, then you should have a great plan of action going forward. And you will have a good idea as to what your customers’ interests and concerns are. Once you have that – then you just have to address them.
Select the Social Media Channels to Place Your Focus
The next thing you will want to do is to select the social media channels in which you will place your lion share of effort. To make the proper choice, you need to be aware of two things. The first thing you need to know is which social media sites are the most popular and will give you the biggest voice. The second thing you need to know is which social sites that interest your potential customers. Hopefully, and in most cases, the answers to these two questions will be the same. This will definitely put you on the path to a solid social media marketing strategy that will pay dividends.
If you spent a considerable amount of time in evaluating your competition, then chances are that you already know the social websites that contain most of your potential clients. Right off the bat, you should know that Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest social media sites out there. And in most cases, your customer base will probably exist in those two arenas in a very big way.
If your competitors are investing time and money in those mediums, then it’s a safe bet that your business should do the same.
If you have done any research at all, then you already know that there are literally hundreds of social websites out there. The majority of them are not worth your time because social sites will require quite a bit of your time if you do it properly.
I recommend that you establish your presence and authority of Facebook and Twitter first. Once you get those established, then you should consider YouTube, Instagram, Vine, or Pinterest – depending on which graphical medium best suits your market. You might also want to consider Google Plus and/or LinkedIn.
Create Your Content Plan
This is where you get into the labor intensive portion of your social media marketing plan. If you have ever managed a blog or website, then you know how important fresh content is to your web presence. But if you do have a company website or blog, then for starters you should always post every blog entry on your social accounts as a minimum.
This does two things, it allows you to repurpose content you are already creating anyway – which means one less piece of content you have to generate. Secondly, these two mediums can exchange traffic with one another increasing your presence in all areas. For instance, the community on your social accounts become aware of your blog and hopefully become a regular reader, and your blog readership will hopefully become fans and friends on your social accounts. And one last benefit is getting some nice backlinks from highly ranked social sites – which is great from an SEO standpoint.
The main areas that your content plan needs to address are the types of content you want to post, and how often you want to post it. You need to balance this to ensure you are providing quality posts to all your accounts. Don’t sacrifice quality in order to get more posts and tweets delivered to your social communities.
Whatever you decide, commit to being consistent. I would recommend beginning at a minimal level so that you are consistent. From that point, you can increase your activity. Here’s a great place to start. For you Facebook fanpage, why not submit three posts daily that are spread out across the day? For your Twtter account, why not shoot for submitting 5 tweets daily? Remember that any content you post on your blog will count toward that daily allotment.
On top of that, I would recommend spending 20-30 minutes interacting with people on those accounts. Respond to those who retweeted and favorited your tweets. Find cool tweets that you like and retweet and favor those. Respond to any comments you received on Facebook and then seek out other fanpages and people in your niche and leave relevant comments for them. It’s always a good idea to let others help you with your social media marketing strategy.
Establish a Budget to Build Your Social Presence
Yes I know, most of us cannot afford to spend money on social media advertising. And the fact is that we don’t really need to, right? This is true, but we build up our presence much faster when we advertise, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, one of the keys to succeeding at internet marketing is to get yourself out there quickly. The reason most people fail at making any kind of money online is because they simply miss the boat. We have to realize that a great social media marketing strategy usually comes at a price.
When something hot comes along, all the gurus sink money into getting their message out there quickly and in a big way, while the rest of us try to do it on the cheap using slow methods and the hot new item cools off before we can prosper from it.
My advice is to make a budget – even if it is very small – just get it going. Over time, you can grow your budget. The best approach is to devote a straight percentage to advertising and promotion. This way, your promotion budget automatically grows when you earn more.
I would recommend starting by advertising to get fans for your Facebook fanpage. This is because Facebook is very flexible and you can turn your ad on and off whenever you choose. So after your budget is reached, you can immediately shut it off. Or better yet, you can tell Facebook at what point to shut it off for you. How can you beat that?
Social Media Planning is Up To You
As you can see, creating a social media strategy is not very difficult. It just requires some research and some homework for you and your staff. But I hope you can see that if you devote yourself to developing a sound social media marketing strategy, you will benefit greatly.