Social media is generally a fun way to communicate and engage with friends. For businesses, implement it strategically and social media can be used as a powerful marketing tool. Yet, some businesses still fail to develop a formal social media plan. Like any marketing strategy, having a plan for social media is equally important. A smart business owner doesn't buy traditional advertising without a well-developed plan, and the same applies with social media. A social media marketing plan consists of the same elements of a traditional marketing plan: target market research, analyzing consumer buying decisions, and identifying brand strengths and weaknesses.
Once you've conducted the research, you can then start outlining strategies and developing a plan. Here are six steps to guide you through developing a social media marketing strategy plan:
1. Identify a social media manager.
Running a successful business involves many tasks, and social media can go by the wayside. Before setting out on a social media campaign, identify someone who will be in-charge of monitoring and posting content. The social media manager should not only ensure that content is posted regularly, but monitor and respond to all comments and customer feedback as well. E-mail alerts and mobile alerts make it easy for assigned staff to monitor the company’s pages 24/7.
2. Create your social pages.
After identifying your manager, create branded pages. Determine which social media sites you want to use. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the top networks for small businesses. LinkedIn and Pinterest may also be appropriate in some cases and for other businesses. Your social media pages should have the same look and feel as your company website. And be sure to include links to your website and invite all of your customers and friends to join or follow your pages.
3. Develop a planning calendar.
Ideally, this should be done on a monthly basis and may outline the following: number of posts per week, posting times (should be varied), and content for each post. A planning calendar lays the foundation and sees to it that you are maintaining your social sites and posting on a regular basis. Having a monthly planning calendar helps keep the excitement and momentum alive.
4. Generate engaging and relevant content.
As you consider content, think outside of your company and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What type of information is both engaging and worthy of being shared? Publishing sharable content is one of the quickest ways to build your following. Here are some content ideas:
- Weekly tips and advice
- Something humorous (in good taste)Highlight and recognize your customers
- Have "social media only" offers
- Be interactive - ask questions people will want to answer (i.e. We’re thinking of adding this new feature… what do you think?)
- Photos and videos
- Coupons and contests
- Product or service overview
- "How To" videos
- Sales and special events
Always remember that to keep your followers engaged, you have to maintain their attention.
5. Monitor feedback and track results.
It is absolutely necessary to monitor all comments and respond in a timely manner. Feedback, whether good or bad, needs to be addressed. Thank those who have good things to say about your product and/or service and reach out to those who have concerns or complaints. Investigate the validity of the negative feedback and address it immediately. Customer feedback helps your better understand reception of your products and/or services.
6. Use results to better understand buyer behavior and reaction to your products/services.
The best way to gauge customer demand is to ask them. Engaging your followers and getting their opinions can help you identify areas of strength and weakness. Maintaining open and responsive communication is key to developing a relationship with your followers.