Do you use social media to market yourself, your business or your organization? The whole process can seem daunting and overwhelming at first. Where do you begin? The essential first step is a social media marketing plan.
Whatever size of organization you are – from individual to large enterprise – it’s the thought process that matters more than the document you produce. You can then develop this into a large document if you need one – or sketch it out as a simple 1-page social media marketing plan, as I often recommend to clients and students.
5 questions to ask before you begin
It’s very tempting to dive straight in and set up a Twitter account or start blogging – because it’s free, easy and everyone else is doing it. But it pays to pause and think about exactly what you want to achieve – and how. There are five essential questions you must ask yourself first:
- What are my goals?
- Where is my community?
- Which social media tools will I use?
- What are my calls to action?
- How will I know when I have succeeded?
The answers to these questions will guide you as you create a social media marketing plan.
5 steps to success with social media
Work through the five stages of social media marketing planning as follows:
1) Define your goals. What are your marketing goals? Define what it is that you want to market (your business as a whole? A specific product or service?) Goals can be divided into aims and objectives: think about your overall marketing aim, and set some specific ‘SMART’ marketing objectives.
2) Find your community online. Use Google, social media alerts, and searches on the main social media platforms to discover where your community of interest hangs out online. These are the most productive places for you to be in order to engage your audience successfully.
3) Choose the right social media tools. The platforms used by your community will guide you to which social media tools you should use – to an extent. But think also about which tools you have the time and inclination to use. Social media starts with content (e.g. blogs and video), so make sure your social media toolkit includes at least one content tool. Then use social networks – or outreach tools – to promote that content and lead people back onto your website.
4) Identify your calls to action. What do you want people to do as a result of engaging with your social media content? Examples include sign up to an email list, visit a website, or enter a contest.
5) Measure your results. Has it all been worthwhile? The final stage of the process is to use social media analytics to measure your success. These metrics will help you to make an informed decision about whether to refine, repeat – or drop – a campaign.
I’ll be blogging about each of these steps in more detail in the coming weeks – including how to put it all together into a simple marketing plan.
You can also download my FREE guide, Create a Social Media Marketing Plan – a straightforward, step-by-step PDF guide, which comes with a 1-page social media marketing plan template for you to fill in as you go (available as a PDF, Word and Excel document). Work through the guide, or just follow these blog posts, and fill in the template as you go along – and you’ll soon have a social media marketing plan that works. The guide is also available as a Kindle ebook from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.