You want to create a social media marketing plan for your business, but you’re not sure where to begin. As marketing consultants, we’ve helped create social media marketing plans for everyone from Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop shops. Here’s how we do it, broken down into six easy steps.
While this post speaks to small business owners and solo entrepreneurs, its strategies can easily be adopted for larger businesses, nonprofits and other groups.
1. Determine capacity and need for training
Start creating your plan by asking yourself how much time and money you can reasonably devote to social media marketing each day. How much time do you need to spend? It depends on three things:
• The size of your business
• The size of your budget
• The size of your goals.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur who just wants to expand your reach, you may not need to spend more than 15 minutes a day on social media marketing. If you’re a business such as The Hershey Company, with dozens of brands, you’re going to need an entire team of social media marketers in place. Think about outsourcing to a firm with a strategic focus such as LinkUmedia.com for your social media marketing efforts.
Also ask yourself how much social media knowledge you’re bringing to the table. Be sure to factor in time and associated costs for necessary training. This can be as simple as downloading a few free eBooks, or as complicated as taking a week-long social media workshop.
Before you start planning what to post, check out social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see what your customers are already talking about. This is also a good time to find out which of your competitors are online, what kind of content they’re posting, and how often.
A good way to monitor the chatter – and find influencers in your market – is to perform a keyword search in directories such as WeFollow or LinkedIn Groups. What topics seem to generate the most responses? What topics go ignored? Jot down any trends you notice. They’ll come in handy when you’re crafting your own content.
3. Choose your mediums and monitoring tools
Most social media users can be found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You may want to choose one social media site to start, then move into others when you feel more comfortable. Or you may want to create marketing plans for all three, plus a few niche sites. Whatever you choose, just make sure your social media marketing plan is sustainable over the long haul.
Next, figure out how you’re going to monitor each social media account. Will you set your Facebook profile to email you whenever someone posts on your page, or will you check in manually? If you check in manually, how often?
For Twitter, you can set your phone or social media browser to alert you whenever someone sends a reply or direct message. You should also consider setting up a Google Alert of your business name to monitor any mentions happening outside of your account.
You can also choose to monitor the web using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Seesmic, or any of the new social media monitoring tools that keep popping up around the web.
4. Crafting Your Content
Fourth, figure out what you’re going to post on each social media account and how often. If you have a schedule of special promotions or events, you may want to schedule some posts and tweets leading up to each event.
The timing of your posts can greatly impact the effectiveness of your social media marketing. As you post content, you may want to try different times of day and different days of the week to see which ones generate the most responses.
You may also want to make a list of potential sources to pull information from, for when you’re having a slow week. These posts don’t have to be scheduled, but it helps to have their sources identified beforehand so you don’t have to search for them later.
5. Planning Your Responses
Fifth, brainstorm all the possible situations that could happen on your social media account. Perhaps someone posts a legitimate complaint to your Twitter profile. Maybe they use your Facebook page to complain about something that’s not legitimate. How will you judge? How will you reply?
Maybe someone uses your Facebook page to promote his business, or post obscene photos. What will you leave up? What will you delete?
When mapping out scenarios, remember to account for the good things, too. What if someone posts a compliment? Will you respond? Can you create a strategy that leverages positive feedback in future marketing?
It helps to have a response mapped out for every situation, especially if you’re responsible for the social media marketing of a large company or group of people. That way, you don’t have to worry about making the wrong move.
Eventually something will happen that doesn’t have a planned response. Adapt your social media plan as needed. You may hire an assistant, and need to create an appendix to the social media plan that spells out who’s responsible for doing what.
By getting everything in writing, you have a living document to guide your efforts and clue you in to elements you haven’t yet considered.
For more social media resources, check out several online databases of social media policies from companies around the globe. You can also check out the top 10 sites for social media marketing trends, as collected by Pivot Conference:
What we do: Outstanding Social Media Marketing
“Our Process” : Simple and to the point. We start with a free evaluation followed by development of a plan that fits your specific needs. Finally, we implement that plan increasing your Social Footprint and Visibility.