As a business owner, you may have little or loads of knowledge about the ins and outs of how social media works.
Whatever the case may be, you will be sure about one thing, that you need to have a presence.
Today’s world is a digital one, and the benefit of operating in a digital age is reach, you have access to a global audience with just one click. But the big challenge that your business faces is standing out from the crowd.
Social media is now the go-to online medium for organisations that want to shine in an overcrowded landscape.
The greatest value that social media marketing has, is that it allows you to engage with and build a community from all around the globe.
Sharing valuable and informative content with your audience, will encourage your customers to view you as a subject matter expert and trusted confidant.
What does this mean for you? Your customers will become your biggest advocates, and promote your brand like no other form of marketing can ever do.
However, it does take work, it requires meticulous planning and execution; a social media marketing plan is critical to social media success.
Not sure what it takes?
A social media marketing plan is a detailed summary of everything you plan to do within your social media strategy, including details about posts, replies, likes and comments.
Taking that into consideration, once you have the plan in place, you will reap the rewards; new customers will be begging to do business with you.
Here are 7 simple steps to creating an amazing social media plan:
1.Outline your objectives
We all want to jump on the bandwagon when a new trend comes along. But you need to ensure that your objectives align with what social media can offer.
It’s quite a big investment so you need to be sure that it’s right for your business.
Growing a social following is harder than ever before. It’s more difficult to stand out from the crowd and get your content and brand seen on a social media landscape that is quickly becoming more focused on paid ads than organic growth.
Without paying for followers or ads, you can expect a maximum of 5% of your fans to see your posts on Facebook, a maximum of 16% on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn providing the most visibility of around 20%. (Source: ElegantThemes.com)
What do you want from social media?
Do you want to:
- Drive brand awareness
- Increase sales
- Generate leads
- Form a community surrounding your brand
Social media offers all of the above, you just need to make sure that you’re investing in the right areas.
Identifying your objectives will drive the strategy for your social media marketing plan; it determines what platforms you should utilise, what content to post and what measures to track.
2. Choose your social media platforms
Incorporate your objectives into this step and choose platforms that align with those objectives.
You’ll need to consider:
- Time: How much time you want to invest versus how much time you have available
- Budget: Consider your budget for paid advertisements, as well as available funds for required human resources
- Resources: Content, image and human resources. Where will you draw all of these resources from and how?
- Audience: Who is your target market and which platform is best suited
Determining which platform to use is a crucial step to ensuring that you get the biggest ROI. According to Forbes social platforms engage different demographics as follows:
With low millennial usage, this platform is best suited to an age range of 25 to 54, women make up 32% and men 29% of Facebook users, in the USA. If you’re wanting to target a slightly older market it could be extremely valuable, since 44% of users check Facebook several times a day.
Targeting millennials? 60% of snapchat users in the U.S. are under the age of 24. Companies creating unique video content, can tap into this free marketing opportunity and gain a loyal following; 100 million users watch half an hour of content every day.
Instagram may be best for brand awareness. But with no clickable links on each post and their latest algorithm change, it’s harder to get customers to visit your site. However, 500 million people use this app, with more than half visiting it every day. It’s a visual platform so original, captivating images and engaging videos need to be used to gain user interest.
With large reach among women, this platform is perfect for female-focused organisations; 42% of online women are Pinterest users. According to stats, Women aged between 18 and 29 make up 34% of users with 28% being between 30 and 49. The Pinterest buy button encourages users to purchase goods, making it easier to generate sales.
With 230 million active users, Twitter has a lot to offer; embedded links drive unique visitors to sites.
This platform is content, not image driven so keep that in mind.
With users on higher income brackets, LinkedIn should not be dismissed. 400 + million users predominantly over the age of 35 use this platform regularly. If you’re targeting an older market then LinkedIn is one to consider.
3. Determine your tone
Once you’ve selected your platforms, you’ll need to decide how you want to portray your business on them.
Defining a brand voice can be difficult, but is essential to building brand awareness. Would an end user be able to recognise your brand if your logo wasn’t present?
Social media is no different, having a tone consistent to your other marketing outputs is essential. And not only that, the voice must be likeable and perceived as genuine, social media users won’t engage with your business if you’re not seen to be sincere.
Perfect your profiles and pages
Your tone will be reflected in your content as well as your profiles and pages.
You’ll need to spend time optimising your social media profile and pages to ensure they align with your tone.
Remember, these pages are a part of your digital marketing strategy and your brand as a whole, so they must fit within that scope.
You’ll need to do the following:
- Complete your company information including contact details
- Optimise your headers and each profile image
- Add a Facebook page call to action
- Tailor your Facebook page URL
- Optimise for search engine optimisation using keywords
- Customise your Facebook page tabs
- Pin promotions or latest content to the top
4. Create and find content for your social media platforms
Content is key here. Whether you’re sharing content or posting original content, it must be valuable, unique and engaging. Originality is essential to standing out from the crowd; if you’re providing a solution to your end users problem, that no one else is, this will ensure that your customers keep coming back time and time again.
Keep your end users in mind at all times. If you’re posting something that doesn’t relate to your business you won’t be engaging your target market; all content should be brand and industry relevant.
Incorporate a content calendar into your social media plan
It’s as simple as that. Just like any other marketing strategy, your social media marketing plan will require a calendar. This makes execution of your strategy seamless and ensures that you’re hitting those marks that you outlined in your objectives. Make it as detailed as possible and include things like, which posts will be posted on which platform.
Automate your content
Automation saves time. Now that you’ve created your calendar, you can schedule content as planned. It also allows you to post content outside of normal operating hours to increase engagement. You can either use the platform itself, for example scheduling posts on Facebook is fairly easy, or you can use an external app.
Social media influencers are individuals that have developed perceived credibility within a specific industry. They have access to a large audience through their followers, and can therefore influence and persuade individuals due their perceived authenticity. Brands partner with influencers to reach their large followers and utilise their influence.
Identifying social media influencers that align with your brand is key to social media success. Once you’ve identified potential influencers, consider if their following is a market you want to target, how big their reach is and if they are accessible. For example, do they share their fan’s posts?
You can start by following them on social media. Try engaging with them by liking and sharing their content, and when you create relevant content, tag them; if they share your post this could mean tapping into a huge market.
5. Engage with users and increase your followers
This can be tricky but starting with existing customers and contacts is the way to go. You already have an existing relationship with them so encouraging them to engage with your platforms won’t be too difficult. Once you’ve gained a bit of a following, you can use these social promotions to boost your following further:
Referral promotions: Entrants are asked to share the competitions with their contacts/friends/followers
- Facebook sweepstakes: Simple and great for first time contest entrants.
- Photo competitions: Users are asked to submit a photo and share the competition with their contacts/friends/followers, asking them to vote
Instagram hashtag competitions: Users are asked to post a photo and tag it with a competition-specific hashtag.
Posting is essential to social media success. If you have amazing content but post it at the wrong time or target the wrong location, it may disappear into the ether without any of your users viewing it.
Ensure that you’re considering the following points when posting:
- Don’t make posts too long
- Use original images as much as possible, and use images in every post
- Post video content
- Target your post according to location, age etc.
- Keep holidays and current events in mind
- Share follower content
- Engage your audience by asking questions
- Tag influencers, users and other brands that align with your business
- Use hashtags as much as possible
- Include a call to action
- Include “How to guides”
After all of your hard work, you need to know how well you’ve done, and if you’ve been making the right choices.
Like any other marketing stream, you need to determine your return on investment and most probably make some adjustments along the way.
The joy of social media, is that it’s flexible and you can make changes fairly easily. So, ensure that you include analytics into your social media plan.
Breaking down what metrics you want to analyse is the first step. Suggested categories are as follows:
Awareness: These metrics identify your current and potential audience, and include measuring brand awareness, audience growth rate, post reach, potential reach and social share of voice (how much people are mentioning you).
- Engagement: How audiences are interacting with your platforms. These metrics include measuring applause rates, average engagement rates, amplification rates (ratio of shares per post to the number of followers) and virality rates (the number of people who shared your post comparative to the number of unique views).
- Conversion: How effective your social engagement is. It includes measuring conversion rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, cost-per-click, cost per thousand impressions, social media conversion rates (total number of conversions coming from social media) and conversation rates (ratio of comments per post to the number of total followers).
- Customer: What existing customers think and feel about your brand. It includes measuring customer testimonials, customer satisfaction scores and net promoter scores (how likely your customers are to recommend your business)
All of these metrics can be measured using either your platforms internal analytics service or through external apps specifically built for metrics. To delve further into social media metrics read Hootsuite’s guide to the most important aspects of social media metrics.
No matter which platform you select, remember to be social and fun, ensure your visuals are striking, post regularly, be as original and helpful as possible and measure your performance.