In my upcoming book: Solving the Social Media Puzzle: 7 Simple Steps to Planning a Social Media Marketing Strategy for Your Business, my co-author Apryl Parcher and I lay out the steps to successfully planning a social media strategy to maximize your social media marketing efforts and chances for success.
In the last four-plus years of working with clients in the social media space I found that one of the common issues with my clients is that they had no plan. Everyone wanted lots of fans and followers and their content to go “viral” but no one had a plan to get there. Most didn’t even have goals at all! They didn’t even know who they wanted to target most of the time.
That is why it is it critical to plan before you get started. One of the biggest misconceptions of social media marketing is that it is free; it’s not free, because like any other of your business efforts, it takes time. Time is money right? Without a plan, you will be wasting lots of time trying everything and accomplishing nothing.
The second question is “who are you trying to target?” Many times we get the standard old-school marketing demographic answer “women 25-54, upper level income” etc.
One of the greatest benefits of today’s social media and online marketing opportunities is that you can really target your audience down to their interest levels, their zip codes, what shows they watch and more, simply because they tell Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn what they like OR they talk about these things in their bios, tweets and online interactions.
What will a plan do for you? For one thing it will take away the blank page syndrome and the “what will I write about today?” pressure. Many people abandon their social media efforts simply because they don’t know what to say. What’s more is if you actually have a strategy in place, things like design changes in platforms (which seems to happen daily) won’t leave you scrambling.
Lena West, Social Media Marketing Mentor at InfluenceExpansion.com says, “Everyone is so busy getting their nerves pinched when Facebook makes a change or when Twitter shifts their layout. The reality is if your business marketing is THAT reliant upon fancy graphics and welcome tabs, your problem isn’t what Facebook is doing, it’s what you’re NOT doing.”
Here are some simple tips from our new book that will help you begin to build the foundation of a solid social media marketing plan:
- Talk to people not demographics. Use personas when designing your target audience. Give the target a name and characteristics like what they watch on TV, if they have children, what do they like to do; things like that.
- Think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve? I think everyone knows by now that the sheer number of fans (likers), followers, views and connections are not necessarily going to drive business.
- Decide where you will spend your time. The big social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+) have characteristics of the audiences they attract. If you are running low on time or staff, delve into which of these will really serve your needs and attract the audience you desire. Focus your efforts on that one or two for the next 90 days and then add others as you have time. Don’t try to be everywhere if you simply don’t have the time.
- Use a content and blogging calendar so you can plan out a strategy. Here is the one that we use and you can download it free http://solvingthesocialmediapuzzle.com/calendar/
- Have a system for measuring results. Now that you know where you’re going, how do you know when you’ve achieved them or if you’re even on your way?
- Constantly be tweaking your strategy as new things come up. Read blogs that focus on the networks you’ve chosen. They often will give great strategies and case studies that you can implement in your own business.
I want to hear from you. What planning strategies have you used to be successful on social media? Please share your answers in the comments section below.