According to social media expert Simon Mainwaring, “One of the greatest challenges companies face in adjusting to the impact of social media, is knowing where to start.”
It may seem obvious, but the best way to start your social media campaign is to make a plan. After all, you have to know where you’re going before you begin. Here are five simple steps to help you map it out.
1. Set specific and measurable goals.
This principle should be second nature to most business owners. By setting specific goals, you’ll know exactly what it is you wish to achieve. When those goals are measurable, you can easily see how you’re progressing and when you’ve achieved them.
Whatever the desired result of your social media initiatives, start with where you are now. If you have some historical data on how many leads you’ve generated per month, for example, you can express your goal as a percentage increase. Or, you could look at the total number of leads generated by all your marketing efforts, and decide what percentage of those leads you want to be generated by your social media activity. Either way, be consistent about the metric you’re using each month, to see whether you’re hitting the mark.
How you express and measure your social media marketing goals will depend largely on your individual business. But the importance of specific and measurable goals applies no matter what.
2. Determine which social media networks to use.
Of course, the 800-pound gorillas in the room are Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, and some combination of those major networks may be all you need. But you would be well served to explore other possibilities. In fact, depending on your business and market niche, you may find that your time and energy are better spent on a niche network. If you decide to go that route, don’t rule out online forums as a way of connecting with people in your niche. Of course, the deciding factor should be results. Measure the results from each network you use, and ditch the ones that aren’t producing.
3. Post good content.
Content is what grows your social media presence. But the mistake many social media marketers make is to post content that’s all about them and their offers — a huge mistake. Sure, posting offers is fine from time to time. But people don’t typically use social media to find products or services to buy. People use social media to connect with other people, learn new things, and better their lives in some way. Most of the content you post should consist of useful information that generally relates to your business or industry. That information can be in the form of links to third-party videos or blog posts, or even to related content on your company website. Just make sure it’s timely, useful and relevant.
By primarily posting this kind of content, your friends and followers will begin to look forward to your posts, and you’ll position yourself and your company as experts in your field. As a result, yours will be the first name they think of when they need a product or service that you offer.
4. Create a schedule of posting frequency.
Creating a schedule of posting frequency, and sticking to it, is essential to the success of your social media efforts. Consistency is the key. In the brick-and-mortar world, consistency can be achieved through geographic location. Businesses that are located in high-traffic areas typically do better than those in low-traffic areas, for obvious reasons. In the social media world, the best “location” is at or near the top of the newsfeed. The only way to get there is to post frequently. Adhering to a strict posting schedule will ensure that your posts stay at the top.
5. Set aside time for responsiveness.
Social media is a two-way street. You must engage friends and followers who ask questions or make comments on your posts. That’s the social part of social media. And the more feedback you receive, the better, because feedback indicates that people are paying attention to you and what you post. Whatever your social media marketing goals are, you’ll never achieve them if you fail to engage with people. So, set aside time every day to respond to questions and comments.
It’s important to keep in mind that shaping your social media marketing plan will take some time, and implementing it won’t necessarily pay dividends overnight. Just think of it as an investment. Over time, that investment in your social media presence will yield big returns for your business.