Social media marketing can be an incredibly daunting prospect. How can something so informal and familiar be used as a marketing tool? Easily and successfully, as it turns out!
Many business owners take social marketing for granted, since it’s all something we do with our personal lives, but the difference is that we’re not planning around a definite end game when we’re updating our collective statuses or pinning new recipes for ourselves.
It takes stepwise planning to pull off a successful social media marketing strategy; below are the six steps that will get you on the right path.
Social Media Marketing In 6 Steps
1. Get the Infrastructure
What resources do you have at your disposal when it comes to planning out your strategy? This is the first and most important question to answer, as it will drive every decision you make.
Resources don’t just refer to the accounts you’ve created for your business. They refer to personnel and time. A strategy in which a full-time employee is devoting a hundred percent of her time to social media outreach will look very different from one in which the business owner herself is reaching out as time allows.
Both approaches can work, but you have to be as realistic as possible about who, what, and how much time you can spend on your social media strategy.
2. Check Out the Competition
Analyze what others are doing before you start doing anything. What other competitors or businesses within your industry are engaging with social media, and how? Track their interactions with customers, how often they do so, and the different avenues they’re taking. Let other companies’ efforts be your research.
And think about your target demographics as well. Find good examples or representatives on main social media sites and figure out how they communicate, with whom, and what sorts of messages reach them. They’re not your competition, but they’re who your competition will likely also be targeting.
3. Find a Direction
The directions aren’t about the tools you use to get there; that’s the path, and that comes later. No, finding a direction is about knowing what you want out of all your efforts. There’s a lot more to social media marketing than just increasing your sales.
Are you looking specifically to build your base of new customers, or do you want to make sure your current customers stick around? Do you want to change the conversation about your business to one that depicts you as having top-notch expertise, or do you want to present yourself as a cost leader? Understanding what you truly want will influence how you get there.
4. Decide How You’ll Know When You Get There
“Do not go gentle into that good night,” says the famous poem by Dylan Thomas. I doubt this was ever meant to help social media strategy, but the sentiment holds.
Whatever else you do, make sure that you’re not engaging in a social media strategy without knowing how you’ll define success.
Success in social media can mean a lot of things: increased traffic, likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, or even direct increases in sales are all totally acceptable metrics depending on what you’re looking to get out of your plan. But definitely have a plan to measure the success of your investment, because otherwise you will never truly know if your plan worked.
5. Define Your Personality
Each one of these steps builds on the previous. This is certainly true for the personality of your social media marketing efforts; your audience, your goals, and your metrics for reaching those goals will help inform the sort of social media face you put on your business.
Your approach to social media marketing strategy will require you to decide whether your business will engage in social media actively or passively, informally or formally, among other factors. Unlike most individual people, businesses have to present a united and consistent front without changes in mood or tone, so it’s best to decide these things early on.
6. Chart Your Path
Just as maps have mountains, rivers, oceans, forests, and plains, so does the social media landscape have vast swaths of territory to conquer. It’s impossible to go in all directions and cover all territory, so pick one or two social media platforms and forge ahead.
The path-taking, which is the final step, will largely depend on the plan outlined in the previous five steps. How formal do you want to be? What measurable metrics do you want to gather? Is your strategy image-based, or does it focus on well-written text? These are all valid questions to answer that will determine whether you center your strategy on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, or any of the other main social media players.
Like any other marketing strategy, social media just takes a bit of planning before getting started. Spending time thinking about and analyzing these six points will ensure that you approach social media in a responsible manner that won’t be overwhelming, but will get results.