How to Plan your Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is no longer an optional part of a marketing strategy. It has become a necessity and if you haven’t started using it yet, now is the time. I used to say that it may not be for everyone, however, with the growth of online searches and the demise of offline directories, like Yellow Pages, your potential customers will be on social media. There are over 1 billion searches on Facebook every day and Facebook grows 20% month on month.
Recent research in the USA, 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, reported that Google has overtaken traditional media to become the most trusted news source on the planet. According to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, 97% of consumers now use online media to shop locally.
While social media is important, don’t forget that it works best when combined with your other marketing channels. Email, networking, your website and public relations are still important aspects of a good marketing plan. It’s not about only doing social media or only having a website but having a mix of marketing approaches to reach your target audience.
The Social Media Marketing Basics
You need to start with a plan and do your keyword research (for help with keywords take a look at my last BFP article). Learn which social media sites your target audience likes most.
Brainstorm content ideas that will interest your audience.
Before you create content, consider how the information will display best; as images, one-liners, long text, videos, etc.
Carry your brand image and core message across all social media platforms.
Create a schedule to interact on each of your social media sites and stick to it. This keeps you from staying in one place too long.
Do your physical marketing material; business cards, brochures, flyers, include your social media links? If not, they should.
Share your suggestions or good information from a “little seen” source. Readers like finding new resources.
Check your brand. Is it consistent with the things you offer your audience?
Review your target audience. Do you need to add or remove certain demographics?
Use a social media management program like HootSuite or Buffer to cut your scheduling time to a minimum. These programs are used by a variety of the top social media sites. Pick the one that is best for your overall needs.
While automation tools are handy, don’t over-automate. Plan to post additional real-time information throughout your day or week and monitor and respond to comments.
Plan ahead and schedule some items to go out. Scheduling things in advance will help you have more time to really interact with your readers.
Evenings are high usage times as people are off work. Plan to post some of your information after normal daytime work hours.
Engagement and Consistency
Consistency is the key to social media marketing, something I freely admit I struggle with as I get easily distracted by bright, shiny new things! You can quickly be forgotten unless you stay in front of your audience due to their high activity levels.
Social media is a two-way dialogue. First, listen to what your audience has to say. Then listen to industry leaders. Finally, listen to your competitors.
Socialise more than you promote. Few people prefer to see more “get this” type of messages than the “friendly find” type.
Get to know your readers and their habits, especially when it comes to when they reply and what topics they respond to.
Encourage followers to share their experiences related to your topic. They can do this through text, photos or even video.
Spend time engaging with people. People respond more often to someone who takes the time for “in person” replies and responses.
Encourage follower to follower engagement. Get your followers talking to one another by sharing their relevant posts, also commenting on them as well as encouraging others to join in.
If you’ve posted a valuable piece of information on your website, link to it in your social media. Please remember not to self-promote too much.
Loosen up and have fun. The point of social media is to be social. Drop the “suit talk” and talk casually as you would outside of work.
Set up business guidelines specific to each of the social media sites you use. If someone needs to step in unexpectedly to send a message, they’ll know the ‘do’s, don’ts’, and more.
Share company news with your followers. New office hours, product announcements, pricing changes, holiday or other sales, and events are all newsworthy.
Watch your competitors and see what keywords they are using, which of their posts are generating the most activity and where they’re getting industry-related links.
Visual Content Works
Mix up the medium you use to keep readers interested. Use pictures, audio, video, text and more to cover your usual business related topics.
Share some of your messages through pictures, video or infographics.
Don’t ignore micro-content content. Places like Instagram, Snapchat and other micro-content platforms are continually gaining in popularity.
Create videos or presentations on how-to topics, tips, pre-launch teasers. Upload them on YouTube or directly on Facebook and promote them on your website or social media sites.
Keep in mind that your social media marketing goal is to drive traffic to your website and mailing list. Point followers to and from your site. Each social media site has its strengths so use those to your advantage by adding different types of content on each, according to the site’s strong points and audience.
A shorter version of this article appeared in the Bury Free Press