10 tips to develop a social media marketing plan for you business

There are probably worse situations to be in than drawing a blank on what to post on social media.

When it’s part of your daily duties, and you see your scheduled “must post” time quickly approaching, with nothing to say, well, it’s easy to wish you were anywhere but in that predicament.

The good news is that you’re not the first person to face a similar situation, and the way things are going with so many new social media channels and processes to available to get the word out, you won’t be the last.

However, you and your marketing team can easily avoid much of the whole “oh no — what in the world am I going to say now?” dilemma by working to develop a solid social media marketing plan, which should cover all aspects of your message: when to say it, who will say it, how to say it, and how often to say it. Of course, the “what” is up to you, your company, and your team’s overall social media strategy.

Creating and sticking to a social media marketing plan can be a challenge to an organization that has long-since relied on a “try to find something to say but don’t sweat it” philosophy, or worse yet, no philosophy at all. But this kind of plan can help everyone to know what’s coming, and hopefully provide an opportunity to craft better messages and target audiences more precisely. It beats doing it on the fly.

For those wondering how to get started, try these 10 tips to develop a solid Social Media Marketing Plan:

1. Determine the project’s goal.

What’s the company’s purpose for investing time and possibly other resources into social media? Do you want more customers? Do you want to improve outreach? Be seen as more personable? Improve visibility of the company website? Seen as experts in your industry?

2. Figure out who will be involved.

A mistake that some businesses make is creating social media pages because they’re told they should, and either not appointing anyone to “feed” them regularly or telling the already busy staff “do it when you have a chance or are caught up on everything else.” Which can be perceived internally and externally as “we don’t care enough to take care of this well.” If you haven’t learned about social media yet, one of the rules of the road is that fresh content looks great, and less fresh content looks terrible. So at least one person should be assigned social media marketing duties as a prime function, and preferably a few others to help out from within the company. If people are busy, everyone could be assigned one rotating “create + publish day” or a different channel to manage.

3. Figure out your ideal social media audience.

Hopefully, you already have an idea of where your customers are coming from and their demographic make-up, either through feedback from actual customers or digital analytics. Or there could already be a positive social media presence that you could build upon, such as videos shot with your product or on your property already online. Knowing basic demographic information like gender and age can help you decide where to target your social media presence. For instance, AdWeek said that the average age of Facebook users keeps increasing, and is now in its early 30s. If you know more, like hobbies and interests, you can target some of the smaller channels geared to your industry or your customer base.

4. Learn your budget.

Participation in a social network – usually free — makes them appealing for budget-conscious businesses. But most modern networks don’t necessarily make it easy for you to reach all your users without paying extra.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and recently Instagram all offer methods to expand your reach for extra money. On Facebook, the cost varies based on the amount of people you want to see your page/post, and how many people already like it. Cost ranges from a few dollars a day to more than $100.  But it can be worth it to an organization eager to get the word out — Facebook claims that any given business post will only show up in about 10 percent of the news feeds of people who already like them or don’t visit their page regularly.

5. Figure out primary and secondary sites to target.

Start with general sites like Facebook or Twitter, since that’s where big audiences are, but also consider diversifying.  Facebook is a given simply because of its global reach. As of spring 2015, there were 1.49 billion active users worldwide – more than the population of China! Facebook’s strength is also being able to provide analytic information for business accounts, including details of your followers. However, just because someone follows your FB page doesn’t mean they’ll convert into customers. A recent Wall Street Journal piece discussed how the Ritz-Carlton had pulled back on its Facebook presence – it was getting a lot of followers, but not leading to increases in room bookings. Like the hotel chain did, consider something else that may provide you with a more specialized audience for your content.

6. Determine a publishing schedule.

A calendar/schedule can cover everything from how many times a day to push something out (short answer: it depends on the channel/message) to a weekly schedule of different channels. While Twitter may encourage rapid activity through the day, some sites like LinkedIn may need less regular updates and more attention/interaction. This could so be a place to plan how to execute any goals.  Are you interested in boosting likes this month? Click-thrus? Engagement? Shares? New channel? Are there any special events or promotions coming up that will require extra help or a different schedule?

7. Figure out what you can do in-house.

Maybe your employers want everything to be generated by the staff, including the social media strategy and the day-to-day content creation. Or maybe if marketing employees are needed for other projects, some or all of the duties can be outsourced to a social media marketing agency. Or maybe there can be a combination of guidance from the marketing team on what topics to cover, and the agency can assist putting the word out to appropriate sites using current best practices.

8. Plan for plan B’s.

You could create the most intricate plan that looks great. But sooner or later your social media marketing effort will come into contact with reality, so will need to be adjusted. It potentially should be easy to substitute posting days if someone on the team  is ill or needed for another priority that day. Or maybe company officials will decide to try that “pay to boost’ plan you’ve been talking about, so the strategy on that particular network may need to be modified. Part of the plan’s strength is how adaptable everyone can be, rather than declaring “doesn’t work’ the minute something goes south. Some channels also allow you to schedule posts, so you can write your Saturday and Sunday Tweets on a Friday and enjoy your weekend.

9. Decide how to unify all social media with its greater online presence.

Though social media can demand all you and your team’s time and attention, the company’s ultimate goal is to make money, so your Social Media Marketing Plan is only one component of it. When planning what channels to focus on, make sure the profile and any links on posts point back to the main site. Likewise, the site should include links to the different channels.

10. Keep track of past performances.

Social networking behavior can be strange and unpredictable, so essentially we’re always just making educated guesses about what people like, why they like it, and how long they’ll keep liking it. And even though your organization should always be looking forward, it’s also important to see the good and the bad. What metrics have changed and why? Did anything change with different publishing times than usual as far as engagement, interest or conversions? Like the stock market, past Internet trends may not always apply to our current situations, but they can be good starting places.

Overall, the key to a good Social Media Marketing Plan is to be organized with a schedule but also be adaptable if something needs to change. This can include being flexible on changing scheduled posts, doing a fewer or more on certain days, and trying out new channels if it could draw in new customers.

How does your plan measure up? Need an expert opinion, or unsure of how to get started in developing a successful strategy for your brand? Contact us today!

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