Large corporate brands have a wealth of social superstars at their disposal. The vast majority of small businesses do not, often preferring to micro-manage every aspect of their social presence to ensure every post is perfect. Going the self-managed route may seem like the best bet as you build your company’s reputation and reach, but there’s a lot more work that goes into creating an epic social presence than most people think.
Most small-to-medium sized businesses fail to reap the rewards that social can offer because they don’t regard it as a legitimate marketing option. There’s so much to consider and that’s why understanding what’s going on in the social-sphere is very important.
So what really makes up a good social marketing plan?
That’s like asking what kind of engine oil should go into your car! What’s right for one company just won’t work for the next. However, here’s just a few you should be thinking about before traversing the social catwalk:
1. You need to intimately understand what networks are right for your business
Sure, Facebook is still the big ol granddaddy of platforms, for now. But do you know if anyone local’s looking for what you offer on there? Perhaps Pinterest or Instagram might benefit your business more? If you don’t have any idea, a managed solution will offer much more ROI than just throwing a bunch of money into content and advertising spend without any clue if any eyes will see what you’re offering.
2. You need to understand the pulse of the people
Specifically, the people whom you want to separate from their money. If you’re marketing to professionals making $200k a year, posting a bunch of inappropriate pictures of animals doing strange things or sharing your favorite Trailer Park Boys episode that’s been uploaded (illegally) to YouTube, might not be the best kind of content to offer said crowd. A less discerning crowd may subscribe to your network because you share their love for Sunnyvale Trailer Park, but will never make it to your store or online shopping cart because your products don’t appeal to them. You have to understand who you’re marketing to, and what they want to see.
3. You need a publishing schedule
Uber professional LinkedIn users might only log in once per day, making once daily posts perfect for reaching your intended audience on this platform. Facebook users may log in once or twice per hour and are inundated with tons of social chatter, making a twice daily posting schedule far more effective with this online crowd. As you can see, every social platform has its own set of user behaviors. That’s why you need to customize your message based on the social platform that you are using.
4. You must have a professional profile and fanpage
You make strides to give people what they want to see, only to never get any social traction. How detailed is your profile? Is your Facebook Fanpage professionally done, or have you just used a default design layout? Make sure your profile, fanpage, mainpage, etc., are highly detailed and with a professional layout. Everything that goes into these pages needs to establish your business as credible and transparent.
5. You need to understand that online social graces are the same as offline
We’ve all encountered a business owner or manager who slept on the wrong side of the bed the night before. You politely ask for help and they grumble, you complain and they yell at you, you say something nice to them and they act like you’re not even in the room. How you respond to comments and requests, good or bad, will determine user experience and satisfaction levels. Both of which affect how many shares, likes and referrals you receive for all your social efforts.
6. You must offer value above and beyond what your competitors do
Value can be making someone laugh or cry, showing them how to take a complex task and make it easier, giving them a significant coupon for a major purchase, giving them insights into an upcoming unadvertised sale – even something as simple as offering free WiFi for customers who come into your business (everyone loves saving on data charges, right?)
In executing your plan, you need help. Plenty of it. Fortunately, help is easier to find than ever.
First and foremost, you can get help – the 101, typically – from online resources, such as Connectivity’s social media guide. You can also watch video tutorials, attending webinars and taking online courses. Those resources can help you in devising an effective and efficient social marketing plan.
Secondly, as plan execution is the key to your campaign’s success, you also need to assess yourself: Do you really have the resources and knowledge to effectively manage your own social campaigns or in fact you should be seeking third party help.
Good luck in your social media marketing endeavor!