I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and trained thousands of individuals in social media marketing, and one of the biggest mistakes that I see from companies of all sizes is a failure to plan.
Many businesses hear about Facebook and Twitter and jump in, without spending time upfront identifying their strategy or creating compelling content. The key to success in social media is building a solid plan. Since social media is “free” most businesses don’t spend appropriate time planning or working out a creative execution.
My book, The Social Media Field Guide is based on helping businesses create a social media marketing plan that really gets results. I wanted to give you a sneak peak inside the book to help you understand the social media planning process that we use with our clients. By following this strategic planning method you will create a social media plan that really gets results – I’ve seen this system work again and again for my consulting and training clients.
Listen to what people are saying about your company, industry and competitors. Many of my social media students say that this stage was the most insightful stage of their plan building. Take time to follow some of the people in your target audience and learn what they talk about and how your product or service plays a role in their lives. Conversations can be monitored across social media sites (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Discussion forums, etc) using free tools.
2) Marketing Strategies
Before you dive in, spend some time to clearly understand WHAT it is that you really want to achieve. If you don’t know your goals you will have trouble proving the ROI of your social media marketing. Also, be sure to link your goals to a potential call to action. A call to action is an action that someone can take to bring them in to a funnel that ultimately leads to a sale. A call to action may be to sign up for a newsletter or call for a consultation.
3) Target Audience
Know in detail your target audience and who you are trying to reach. Be as specific as possible as this will help you develop more meaningful content. Many businesses fail to specifically define their audience. If you try to reach everyone you will end up reaching nobody.
Content is one of the most important areas of your social media marketing plan. What will you talk about that will engage and inspire your target audience? What is it that will entice people to connect with you on social networks?
What are the right social media tools for your business? LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook? Which tools best match your strategy, audience and content? Many businesses start with the tools (i.e. I want to get on Facebook) without understanding what they want to achieve and who they want to reach. Prioritize the tools that are likely to have the biggest impact for you.
6) Implement and Execute
Execute with excellence. When you start actually executing your social media marketing plan be sure that you are adopting best practices in the creation and management of your accounts. Pay attention to your execution and implement best practices.
7) Track and Measure
Tracking is vital to the long-term success of your social media marketing program. Not only will it help you prove ROI, but it will show you what is working and what isn’t working. Be sure to spend time tracking your efforts and measuring your success so that you can justify the use of time/money/resources.
Refine your strategies and tactics based on what you learn. Many companies that I work with create an initial social media strategy that doesn’t get results, but fail to adjust based on what they learned.