A couple of years back marketing meant visiting consumers personally and listening to their feedback and queries and having a personal touch. Few years later this was replaced by tele- marketing and now, we are in the age of digital marketing. Though the tools have changed, the essence of marketing remains the same; the bottom line is to attract and retain customers.
Social networking sites have changed the way people used to market their business. The science and benefits of social media marketing is unfolding itself as more and more people are experimenting with it. Today, I delve into the steps that will help you to prepare a social media marketing plan for your brand and business.
Your business website or blog needs a social media marketing plan and you don’t wish to outsource it to any digital marketing agency or an individual. You think the best plan for your brand can be prepared by yourself. Totally possible but it is not as simple as you might have thought. Social Media Marketing (SMM) is maturing day by day and requires some serious efforts to yield results.
Every action that you take on any social networking site should be in line with your social media marketing strategy. Every post, response, tweet, comment should be guided by the plan which has clear goals. So the most important task is to define and draft the plan.
Knowing Social Media Marketing Plan
Remember that it is a marketing plan, which shall define how you plan to achieve your business goals. Social media marketing plan is summary of all activities you are going to engage in, to achieve business goals using social media marketing techniques. Analyse where your social media profiles stand as of today; determine where you want them to be within a certain period of time and list out all the tools/activities that are necessary to get there.
Get specific with your plan; this makes it effective as you implement it. Don’t make it too complicated and broad that makes it impossible to achieve. The plan will guide your actions and guide as to whether you are succeeding or failing in your social media activities.
Define Your Goals and Objectives
This is imperative to any social media marketing plan. Your objectives and goals will help and tell you as to whether you are achieving success in your social media activities or not from time to time. If you are not, then you can quickly react to it and change or alter your plan of action. Without goals you cannot gauge success or there is no means to find out the return on investment (ROI).
Once you have a marketing strategy in place your social media marketing should always remain in line with that, so that it keeps you closer to your business objectives. Your plan’s success gets manifested in terms of the retweets, likes, leads generated, web traffic rise. An ideal SMM plan should have at least three goals.
Example of a SM Marketing Statement
For our brand’s Facebook page we will share 4 updates every day out of which 3 will be image based posts that communicates about our brand imagery and one about industry update. It will achieve 40 likes and at least 15 comments. This looks perfectly defined, doesn’t it?
Audit your Social Media Performance
Before you start drafting your SMM plan, do an audit of how your social media channels are doing for you (at this time). Find out who are connected with you, what social media channels your audience use. Assess how your social media presence is Vis a Vis your competition.
Make a list of each and every social account that is representing your business online, understand these accounts better. Who is the manager, who is admin and what purpose it serves? Also, as your business grows this kind of audit should be done regularly. Make a decision as to which accounts you need to keep and which you need to delete. Make sure that there are no fake or fraudulent accounts online because your customers might end up connecting with those accounts. Your customer MUST be connecting to your official business accounts that you have approved and are managing.
Create a mission statement for each social profile. This one sentence will pull you back on track and push you towards reaching your goals, as you use Twitter, Facebook or any other channel. Every social media website is not good for every product or campaign in your kitty. For a clothing brand Instagram might work wonders, for cement twitter might be the best. Define the purpose of each profile. If you see there is no purpose in having a particular profile, it is better to delete it.
Example, Mission Statement:
We will use LinkedIn to highlight our business goals and build our brand that will also help us in recruitment.
Improve your social accounts
Once you are done with social media audit it’s time to improve your social accounts for a better online presence. Choose the social media networks that take you closer to your social media goals. Focus on your target audience. Refine your existing social media channels and update them to squeeze the best results. Every network has a particular set or type of audience and they should be treated accordingly. Optimise your profiles for SEO, this will generate web traffic to your website and other digital assets. Optimize your accounts by completing all necessary fields and about information.
Get Inspired from Industry Leaders, Clients and Competition
Your customers are on Facebook and that is why you want to be there. And for same reason your competition too is on social media. Your competition is actively pushing their brand on social media, they are conversing with people. That means there is a big pool of data available to deep dive in to. Analyse your competition, see what they are doing, what type of content is doing well. This will help you to draft your social media marketing plan for sure.
Observe how your competition is engaging with their audience. You should use your social media channels to be different from your competition. Track their (and your too) customers, read what customers are sharing on company pages, comments and their language. It speaks volumes about their preferences and lifestyle, use their language and lingo. Learn from their profile; their habits, what they share and why they like a particular content.
Consumers are great source of inspiration so do industry leaders. These are giants who have mastered the social media marketing methods. They are able to distinguish themselves on social media. Follow them and learn from them. Research their profiles and see what they have shared on social media channels that did well and observe their digital habits.
Put a Content Plan in Place Along With an Editorial Calendar
Great content is rare but, if you can pen it and have it shared on social media then it works wonders. Your social media marketing plan should have a content strategy in place as well as have an editorial calendar.
Your plan should have
- An editorial calendar that enlists all your updates with date and time for social channels that you want to post them on
- As per content plan schedule your posts in advance rather than posting them manually. While your updates are well drafted in advance always be spontaneous while engaging with any conversation with users in real time
- Draft your content for social media keeping in mind the mission statement for that particular channel. If your purpose is to reach maximum audience and have them engaged on Facebook see that you have engaging content
Evaluate Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Test your plan and evaluate your strategy. Track the performance of your posts, comments, likes, shares (retweets). Capture and analyse page visits with help of URL shorteners and UTM codes (URL Tagging in analytics). Record the progress of your social media marketing plan, efforts and adjust your response accordingly. Consider conducting surveys; send a survey form to your followers to ask how they think you are doing on social media. Ask your customers if online campaigns are adding value to their decisions that are leading to purchases.
Your social media marketing plan will always be of dynamic in nature. New platforms arise and you have to use them to make the best of use social media. As you scale your business, new content is added, plan changes, and new goals are set. Be flexible and be open to changes.