Planning to fail is failing to plan, especially when it comes to the increasingly complex and confusing world of social media.
Should you post, tweet, pin, or lay it all out on the gram.
And should you share original content, or curate others content, and how much, and how often?
Or is social media even the right choice for your business at all given the fact that it is going to take some time, energy, and effort to be heard in this increasingly crowded and noisy online world we all live in.
If you’ve ever found yourself struggling with these questions don’t worry, you’re not alone, which is why in this blog post, we’re going over how to create a 9 part social media marketing plan so you can be sure you’re setting yourself and your business up for success, right from the start.
So you’ve made the commitment to really start looking at social media as a genuine and valuable marketing tool and not just a place to share funny cat pictures and Taylor Swift videos.
Which means you know social media is where your customers are, you’ve read the statistics and heard the case studies, and are ready to dive in and start benefiting from this truly amazing marketing opportunity.
Maybe you’ve signed up for a Facebook business page and have posted a few times here or there, perhaps you’ve got a company Twitter account, you’re on LinkedIn, and you’ve placed links to your new social media platforms on your website so you can show your customers your business is relevant and applicable to them and their needs.
But what next?
Well, as the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. So let’s make a plan.
A social media marketing plan is like a mini-marketing plan.
Depending on whether or not you already have in place a company wide marketing plan in place will dictate the level and detail of your social media marketing plan.
But even if you’re starting from scratch, a social media marketing plan is a great place to start to ensure you’ve got your bases covered and time spent on social won’t be time wasted.
Step 1) Current Analysis – Where are you now?
The first step is to identify what you’re already doing, and what platforms you’re on.
From here you can decide where you want to go.
- Do you already have a few accounts set-up?
- Do they have customized headers and branding?
- Do you have any followers or “likes”?
This is valuable to list out as it may cut down on work later – both in initial setup, and in the possible decision to abandon a platform or two as you really don’t need to be active on them all and the odds are good that only 1 or 2 social media channels are going to provide the best returns and biggest bang for your buck.
Step 2) Competitor Analysis – Where are they now?
While it’s often a good idea to lead rather than follow, it’s still prudent to be aware of what the competition is doing.
Making a list of competitors and their current social media usage can indicate 1 of 2 things.
- If they’re doing it well, you can prove that customers really are interested in these social media platforms.
- If they’re not doing it well, it gives you an opportunity to provide a service not currently offered.
Step 3) Goals – Where would you like to be?
Having goals is important to prevent 3 hour marathon Facebook sessions that provides little or no value.
Is your goal to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Build social authority?
Each goal comes with its own set of specific tactics and time requirements. It’s okay to play around on social media for fun, but as the saying goes, “never confuse motion with progress.”
Step 4) Strategy – How are we going to do this?
Given the goals set in the previous step, how are you going to achieve these?
A few common social media strategies include:
- Listening: using Google Alerts and a program called Mention to highlight when your brand or name is used online
- Engaging: Will you respond to comments, because you should, and seek to encourage participation? And will you comment on others sites and pages?
- Influencing: Does your brand have a position in the market place, or something it stands for? Do you have a particular view of your industry you could share?
- Contributing: Contributing is content marketing at its finest. This is where social media marketing really shines.
When you think of social media as a communication tool, and the means, rather than the end, it allows you to understand its true power in sharing content and value to your customers.
Step 5) Target Market – Who’s going to listen?
This is perhaps the single most important part of any social media marketing plan, and quite frankly, any marketing strategy at all, because not clearly identifying your ideal target market and potential customer means that you’re likely to miss the mark, and maybe even miss the whole target.
This is because when it comes to clearly identifying your ideal customer many of your target market may not be on the social media platforms or channels you think or that you want to use, which means investing time, money, or energy there is pretty much a complete waste of resources.
Knowing the details about your target market and the key statistics around which social media platforms they tend to use can help determine what to post, where to post, when, and how.
Step 6) Implementation – It’s go time!
When most people think social media, they think Facebook, maybe Instagram or Twitter, and possibly Pinterest.
The truth is there are a ton of other related tools available under the header of social media that may, or may not, be suitable for your needs.
These include, blogs, podcasts, webinars, video, photo sharing, discussion boards and forums, Q&A sites like Quora, mobile apps, and location marketing.
But here’s the good news, you don’t need to use them all!
In fact, you’re probably best to select only 1 or maybe 2 to start, and focus on doing them well.
Determining which ones depend on your business, goals, and of course, your target market.
Also, will you create content, because you really should, and if so, what are you going to create content about?
Or are you simply planning to share content on your social media platforms.
So if that’s the plan, where will you get it from, and what topics do you want to focus on?
These are all things to consider when forming your social media marketing plan.
Step 7) Monitoring – How are we doing?
As Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured, gets managed” so this is a good opportunity to look back at our goals, see how we’re doing, and most importantly, see if we’re making any progress.
Which is why a key part of having a social media marketing plan is to measure your performance and see how things are actually working out.
The best and easiest way to do this is with something called a KPI, or key performance indicator.
KPI’s are a marketing term that allow us to really identify what’s important, and then measure that.
They key with KPI’s however is not to get overwhelmed by measuring everything under the sun, but instead to keep it simple and focus on only the most important metrics, the ones that are relevant to your goals, and the ones that actually show improvement.
Step 8) Budgeting – How much are we going to spend?
Having a social media marketing budget is an important part of the social media marketing plan because contrary to popular belief, social media in a business context isn’t free.
There are costs involved with the time to set everything up, plan, and implement, as well as advanced options like monitoring, content creation, sharing, and increasingly important, promotion.
Which is why every year more and more companies move a greater amount of their budget into social media, and they’re doing this for a reason.
The sweet spot to start realizing returns on social media marketing tends to occur for most smaller businesses around the 7-14 hour per week range.
Depending on what you’re doing now this may sound like an awfully large number.
After all, what small business owner has an extra 7-14 hours a week to dedicate just to social media?
Fortunately, there are a host of tools and resources available to help make this number a little more attainable including scheduling tools like Hootsuite, Sprout social, and Edgar, as well as design tools like Canva, and a number of royalty free online photo sites to help you find just the right image for the job.
And of course you can always hire a contractor, freelancer, or social media agency to help take some of the load off.
But make no mistake, allocating a certain part of your budget to social media marketing is money well spent provided that the plan you’re following is well thought out, structured, and inline with your business goals and objectives.
Step 9) Return on Investment – How much did we make?
Calculating a quantitative return on investment with social media can be a difficult task due to its largely qualitative results.
It’s challenging after all to put an exact dollar amount on improved brand perception, increased brand awareness, or the number of customers reached or impressions gained through exposure from social media.
That said, you can, and most definitely should track it!
A good place to start is tracking pre-social media sales and post-social media sales.
These are somewhat broad and general but still a valid approach, especially if you haven’t made too many other changes in your business.
Also keep in mind your cost of customer acquisition and lifetime value of a customer.
Is it becoming cheaper and easier to acquire new customers?
And are they staying longer, spending more, and telling more of their friends and family about you?
If so, you’re on the right track with your social media marketing plan.
At the end of the day a good social media marketing plan is well worth the investment.
Social media isn’t going away anytime soon, and has delivered some pretty incredible results for companies ranging from solopreneurs and small mom n’ pop shops all the way up to billion dollar enterprises.
But like most things the key is to start where you are and with what you have, but start today.
You don’t need a multi-million dollar advertising budget to take advantage of these tools.
A well planned and thought out campaign can deliver a significant return on investment to those businesses and entrepreneurs who are willing, to just be a little social.