Part 3: A Social Media Marketing Plan For Your Business – by Tony Burke.

Effective social media strategies require proper planning and execution. If you’re new to this and expect to see results from a few blog posts and random updates, you might find the whole endeavor very disappointing.

Serious marketers know that in order to harness the full potential of social media one has to incorporate at least these three elements:

•  Listening to the audience

•  Sharing relevant messages

•  Enabling the audience to share the message

Marketing Plan For Your Business

So what is it that you’re supposed to share? Good content. You can’t have effective social media marketing without good content. The entire marketing plan originates from a solid content creation strategy. The good thing about useful content is that it gets people to appreciate your brand and share; and the sharing is what builds your brand.

This works whether you’re a small business or a large multinational and it costs very little to set up so the budget shouldn’t be a major factor when setting up. Ever heard that saying that goes “failing to plan is planning to fail?” It’s very true when it comes to marketing because creating a well- detailed social media strategy is just as crucial as having a rock-solid business plan.

In order to attract, engage and ideally convert fans and followers into customers, employ this strategy.

1. What should I aim to achieve from social media?

This depends entirely on what type of business you’re in. you may want to use it to gain exposure for your brand or simply to interact with customers because it’s good for business. Remember, if you’re just winging it your audience will know and that’s not good for you. Try to understand your customers’ goals and find out how to connect with that. One way to do this is to find out how you can use social media to solve your customers’ problems.

2. Who should set up the company’s social media account?

For smaller companies it would be better to delegate the task to a staff member who has experience implementing effective social media campaigns. Larger companies give the job to qualified workers in the marketing department and if the budget allows, some may choose to hire a consultant or local company.

3. Should I create accounts on all social media platforms when starting out?

As a starting point, it would probably be better to operate with a presence on one or two social networks and a blog. The network you choose will be determined by where your audience hangs out; so survey your customers and find out what their most popular platform is. The more the business grows the more social networks you can get into.

4. What’s the best social network for a small business?

Whether you’re operating a large or small business, you can never go wrong with a Twitter account. The platform is easy to learn and it gives your business a voice in the micro-blogging world. Another crucial network to be on is Google+- if only to boost your site’s search engine rankings. If however, you have a B2B firm, social networks such as Slideshare and LinkedIn would be great places to reach influencers, and you wouldn’t go wrong with Facebook and Pinterest.

5. What’s the right frequency to post updates?

Two-five posts each day should be enough. Remember your followers visit social media websites at different times, and a single post each day couldn’t possibly be enough simply due to differences in timing. To reach more people, stragger the posts consistently throughout the day.

6. What type of content should I post?

Again, the purpose of your marketing campaign will determine what you post. But also, the platform you’re using matters to a certain extent. For instance, Pinterest and Instagram are inherently visual, so striking, memorable images detailing your products and services would be ideal if you’re operating such accounts.

Company events and a few behind-the-scenes photos are great for connecting with audiences on these networks. But you may also post text updates on Facebook and have them trend well, especially if you’re posing a question or giving out relevant information. When using Twitter, try to keep a balance between tweets and re-tweets. Curate a diverse mix of content (photos, links, tips, short videos, thoughtful questions, etc.) across different platforms in order to keep things fresh and interesting.

7. Is social media a good platform to provide customer service?

Social media has over time become one of the most popular platforms for businesses to interact with potential and existing customers. You can use all the popular platforms to respond to customer questions and complaints, order status enquires, etc.

8. How exactly does one convert followers into customers?

There aren’t any surefire tactics to get fan’s to buy, however some tricks seem to work better than others. For example, Facebook ads are a simple, affordable way to expand your fan base, boost engagement and collect sales leads. It’s entirely up to you to convert those leads. One of the best ways to go about converting leads is to implement a cross-platform contest that integrates all the popular platforms and perhaps offer sweepstakes that resonate well with the audience and draws in potential customers.

For instance, in order to drive consumers to your online store, you could send a simple tweet that describes an ongoing contest on your Facebook account, and drop a link to the rules of the contest and the entry form on your online store.

9. How do people go about measuring the success of their marketing efforts?

It’s very important to make sure you always track your marketing metrics so as to establish which tactics are working and which aren’t. Some platforms come with their own metrics; Facebook for instance gives you administrator access where you can check out page insights data and use the data to evaluate what’s working and plan your future posts.

LinkedIn offers similar analytics which are essential for business pages. Google analytics can be used to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns and see how your strategy’s driving your traffic to your website or online shop.

10.    Biggest mistake to avoid

You can’t afford not to have a social media plan, so create one and stick to it. Remember social media is constantly evolving and in order to stay ahead you have to be prepared to adapt and redefine your strategy as needed. If you do this every few months you will identify which tactics are redundant and in the process work out the best plan for your business.

Most organizations begin their social efforts by listening and engaging with their customers across different platforms but at some point they have to look at the staffing required to carry out an effective campaign and ask what it is they’re really getting from social interaction. In order to maintain a social business strategy that binds disparate efforts together to create a long-term plan that keeps the business growing, significant time and resources have to be set aside.

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