Getting real, tangible results with social media marketing begins with having a solid plan.
Poor planning is most often what you can point to for the lack of success with social media.
Sometimes businesses jump in without thinking it through at all.
You can just imagine how far that gets them.
The problem is most businesses don’t even know what a social media plan is, what’s involved in it, or what one looks like.
They’ve never had an experienced social media consultant walk them through the process.
Working directly with a consultant is the best way to go because they can develop a long-term strategy for your business.
They’ll get to know you and your business, what your specific goals are, and figure out what you can do to achieve them.
The best consultants will even create a content calendar for you to take the guess work out of what to post on social media day in and day out.
But I’ll do the next best thing for you in this post.
I’m going to provide a sample social media plan for your business to follow.
I’ll show you the steps that go into creating one, where to start and the amount of work involved in being successful with social media.
The idea here is to get your business on the right track!
Step 1: Determine Where You Are
Where is your business currently at with social media?
Assess your business’s level of experience and previous success. Be completely honest with yourself about it.
This is your starting point.
If you don’t use it at all then ask yourself why not. If you do use it, be honest in asking yourself how you have been doing with it so far.
Through this honest assessment you’ll find opportunities to grow and improve. This is what you’re going to work towards.
Step 2: Determine Where You Want To Be
What would social media success look like for your business?
If you have been using social media during the previous year think about what it has accomplished for you. This will give you an idea of what’s working and what’s not.
Has it increased revenue? Improved customer engagement? Enhanced the reputation and awareness of your business?
Think about why you started using social media in the first place and if you have been achieving what you set out to do. This will give you a better understanding of what your priorities should be going forward.
Step 3: Find Your Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, is fancy marketing speak for measuring success.
Where do you need to raise the needle to determine whether or not social media marketing is successful for you?
Some common measurements of success are an increase in website traffic, enhanced awareness and reputation, better rankings in search engine results, and of course things like sales through social media referrals.
Figure out what is most important to the success of your business and measure it closely.
Step 4: Listen And Communicate
You need to spend at least as much time listening on social media as you spend updating your profiles. The more listening the better.
Keep up with the conversations people are having around your business and your industry in general.
Through listening to your target market you’ll understand how to better communicate with them. You’ll know more about what their wants and needs are and how to satisfy them.
The more you know about your customers the more you can effectively retain their business.
Step 5: Diversify
If you’re posting the same old stuff all the time, stop!
Don’t stop posting, just change it up a little.
Updating your social media profiles with a wide variety of content keeps your audience engaged and interested.
Post updates about your business once in a while, but also share interesting news related to your industry that your audience might like to hear.
Engage your followers with questions, contests and giveaways.
Also make sure to vary the type of content you’re posting. Use a combination of text, links, pictures and videos.
This all helps to keep your audience awake, so to speak. We’re living in the age of short attention spans so you don’t want them to get bored with you.
Step 6: Make Time To Respond
The absolute worst thing you can do, and it’s something almost every business does, is not respond to customers.
Just as you have to make time for updating your profiles, make time for monitoring them and responding when necessary.
There are all types of people in this world, so it helps to think ahead about how you will respond to each of them.
By that I mean think about how you will respond to people asking questions, how you will respond to criticism and complaints, and how you will respond to people who just want to give you a compliment.
These people are all equally worth your time, and something as simple as responding to them will give you a serious advantage over your competitors.
Step 7: Simplify
If you find social media is taking up too much of your time, look for ways to simplify it.
There are plenty of free and paid tools out there to make social media management easier and more efficient.
There are tools for managing multiple profiles with one application, tools for scheduling updates, and tools for measuring analytics. They can all make your life a bit easer.
There are also mobile apps for managing your social media on the go!
It might take some time to find the right tools for your needs, but once you do you’ll be glad you did. You’ll save a lot of time in the long run.
Step 8: Never Stop Learning
You can never know everything you need to know about social media. Things are always changing.
Sometimes new networks catch fire and sometimes old networks fall out of favour.
Not to mention new tools are being introduced almost every day.
If you want to really get serious with social media marketing you need to keep up with it, at least to some extent.
One of the best ways to do that is to read some of the industry’s top blogs. Here’s a bunch of great ones.
There’s also a ton of books being published regularly that are worth reading. I keep my sidebar updated with the latest books I’m currently reading if you need some recommendations. I never stop learning either.
Wrapping It Up
As the old cliche goes: if you fail to plan you’re planning to fail.
How successful you are with social media is largely dependent on how well you plan ahead. These 8 steps will definitely set you on the right track.
If you’re unsure of where to go next, working directly with a social media consultant to develop a strategy specifically for your business will help take you even further.
Do you have any steps to add that you think have been left out? Do you have any experiences with social media planning that you’d like to share? It would be really awesome of you if you could add them in the comments section below!