Social Media Marketing Plan - The 8 Steps
The social media marketing plan is an interconnected journey of different steps that you as a business owner need to take to get the most out of your social media marketing initiatives. The steps that are given in this blog are not ones that you can take individually.
Because then you will end you spending valuable time and your money thinking that you are doing your social media marketing whereas, in reality, you would just be doing a small part of it and not getting the results that you expected from the social media marketing initiative. Since all the steps are linked, the choices made in one step have an effect at a later step.
As with any strategy, it is most important for you to understand where you stand. You need to review your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube accounts to audit your current situation. This will tell you what is working well on these pages and what is not. A few things to note in this regard… are you consistent across the different social media channels?
Consistent is not only about posting comments in one single niche, which in this case is your line of business. But posting regularly and uniformly across the different social media channels. The next thing to do is check out your competitors. Analyzing the social media marketing techniques used by your competitors will tell you what are the things your competitors are doing correctly and the areas where you need to buckle up. All these will give you a clear picture of where you are and the amount of ground you need to cover to crush your competitors.
At the end of this stage, you will be asking yourself questions on where you want to see yourself in three months time, six months time, or maybe in one year. Do not start with lofty goals. That can be your end state. But at this stage, keep small, achievable goals. Because once you achieve your first goal, that will spur you to the next one. And with this, we come to the next stage.
Step 2: Define Your Goals
Your goals defined as part of your social media marketing plan should be driven in a top-down approach. This means that you need to first answer this important question…. “What are the priorities of my organization?” The answer to this question will tell you if your marketing strategies are aligned with your organizational objectives. The overall marketing strategy of your company will drive the Social Media Marketing strategy.
The social media strategy will be the key influencer of the content strategy of your business. Once you are clear on the content strategy that you are going to adopt in the coming days, it is time for you to set up Your Goals. The goal needs to be both qualitative and quantitative. When defining your goals make sure that they fit into the SMART framework. That is, your goals need to be Specific, can be Measured, are ones that you can Achieve, are Relevant to your business, and are Time-bound. Once you have set up your SMART goals, it is time to identify your buyers. This brings us to the third step of the Social Media Marketing Strategy.
Step 3: Identify Your Audience
One of the major mistakes that businesses make while creating a Social Media Marketing Plan is that they do not properly identify the audience based on the demographics, interests, motivation, and preferred social media channels. A good place to start is always with what you have with you. Check out the existing data that you have of your existing customers. Which product or service resonated well with which type of audience, was there any particular time when you saw more engagement and sales and the channels that brought you these customers.
Do your research before you sit down to write down your social media marketing plan. Use existing data to create a hypothesis of personas. These personas are real people. Try to capture their interests, what gets them going, the thought process they tend to follow. Once you have created multiple personas that you know will be your target audience, it is time to focus on how to reach these customers. This brings us to the fourth step of the Social Media Marketing Strategy.
Step 4: Choose Your Channels
When you are starting out your social media marketing initiative and have identified SMART goals for your business, do not make the mistake of jumping into multiple channels at the same time just because your competitor is also present across multiple channels. Choose the right channels that you feel will give you the most bang for the buck when you are just starting out. Go back to the personas that you had created and think of which channels they use the most. Also, think about what each channel is for and why do people use that channel.
As part of your social media marketing plan, think of the content that you plan to create, the purpose of creating the content, and how much it is going to cost you to create the content and manage the channels you have identified. For example, while LinkedIn is a business-to-business platform, Facebook and Instagram are platforms that are more focused on business to consumers. If you have followed the steps this far, remember that you have built the foundation of your Social Media Marketing Strategy the proper way. Now comes the execution part of the strategy you have put together. And this brings us to the fifth step of the strategy. Getting the ammo ready.
Step 5: Create Engaging Content
With so much content all around us, it is not good enough to be GOOD. To make your content stand out, you have to be able to do one of the following. Either you need to entertain or you need to educate or you need to inspire your audience through your content. Do not make the classic mistake of creating content that screams about YOU, your services, or your products.
In social media, people are tired of businesses trying to pitch them products and services and you do not want to be another face that does not add value to the social media audience. Pictures and Videos have shown to get more engagement on social media. So when you sit down to formulate your content strategy, ensure that you are creating posts that are accompanied by pictures and videos. Depending on the type of channel you want to operate as part of your social media marketing plan, you might want to vary the tone of your content.
While content shared on LinkedIn might have a more authoritative tone, content on Facebook and Instagram can be more casual. Ultimately, it again boils down to the personas and where you are targeting them to get engaged with your content. So now that you have already got the ball rolling, this brings us to the sixth step of the strategy. And although it has nothing to directly with your business, it will have a very big impact on your business. People trust people and they do business with people. Time for you to be social.
Step 6: Be Social
People want to know who they are dealing with. Unless you are a brand that everyone is aware of, your audience would be more comfortable interacting and engaging with a person than a logo. Once you start interacting with your audience you will see an increase in their engagement levels. Talk to your audience. Add value to them. Once you start interacting more with your audience who are looking at or commenting on your products or services, you will find that they will quickly transition from cold audience to warm audience and subsequently followers. And you will see that it will pay off in the long run for your brand.
You can also collaborate with other brands and influencers who you think have a similar product or service and you both can complement each other. Being social will increase your audience at a much faster rate than if you were to keep yourself behind the logo. Now that you have taken care of all the required steps of your social media marketing plan, this brings us to the seventh step. It’s time to test the waters.
Step 7: Execute the Strategy
All the strategy in the world, no matter how good or full proof it is, won’t make any difference to you or your business if it is not executed. It’s like you take time and do a lot of research in drawing the sketch of your dream house. But then you never get to the point of actually converting that drawing into reality and build the home of your dreams.
One of the main reasons for this is because you are not sure if your Social Media Marketing Plan is correct. What if you fail? This fear of failure becomes even more acute if you have tried Social Media Marketing before with limited or no success. But this time is different. Because you have identified your SMART goals. So, go ahead and execute the strategy you have put together. It won’t be perfect. Well, nothing is. But this time you will be able to measure your achievements against the goals you have set.
Once you have started creating content and distributing it across channels, it’s time for you to do paid advertising on the social channels where you are engaging with your audience. Once you start the paid campaigns, you will see that your efforts are being amplified to a bigger, more targeted audience. This will give you more returns on your investment and way more data and insights on your campaigns and audience. This brings us to the eighth and the last step where this data plays a crucial role.
Step 8: Analyze and Improve
Now that you have started executing the Social Media Marketing Plan, it’s time to identify the loopholes of your strategy and improve. The best thing at this stage is that what started as a hypothesis of personas now has ample data to validate the hypothesis. Use the data to refine your campaigns following the Test, Measure, Analyze, Reflect, and Repeat strategy. One of the key advantages of Social Media Marketing is the availability of the most detailed data and analytics of what to do on social media.
This data will tell you the metrics and the KPI that matters the most for your business. You will need to research engagement, what your audience feels about your brand, the amount of traffic redirecting to your website from these channels, your sales, and the lifetime value of customers from these channels. So now that you know the eight steps to a successful Social Media Marketing Strategy, I hope you follow these eight steps to amplify your brand and bring more success to your business.