Make Social Media your Friend! Part 1 – Plan

like us friendWhether you’re starting out in business or not, it’s time you got to grips with social-media. Social-media is a collective name given to websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ etc that are usually regarded as a personal and social conduit, but can also be an hugely effective tool for businesses to reach both existing and potential customers for free!

However, because these websites are increasingly being used as a business marketing platform, customers are becoming savvier and are no longer bowled over by the novelty of social-media business advertising. You’ve got to get to grips with how to tweet, post and pin effectively or run the risk of turning your customers off… for good!

This article forms PART 1 of 4 articles about making these websites work for you!

Read on to get to grips with your Social-Media Marketing Strategy and PLAN!

Yes, you do need a social-media marketing strategy. If you’re thinking you’ll just be spontaneous and have a go when you have the time, it will be blatantly obvious to your customers that you don’t know what you’re doing. Hence it’s important to have a detailed plan outlining your social-media marketing goals as well as the steps you must take to achieve these goals.

1. Who is your business?

The first step to any marketing plan is to personify your business: if your business were a person, what kind of person would it be? Imagine your business to have its own gender, personality, its own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. What are its goals, dreams and ambitions? Write your own list or mind map of your business personality, and highlight the factors which you consider to be the most prominent or important personality traits.

2. Who wants your business?

Time to imagine your most perfect archetypal customer. What is their gender? What is their personality? What are their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes? What are their goals, dreams and ambitions? Imagine you are this person. What do you read? What do you watch? What media do you use? Which social media do you use? Most importantly, what is your pain? What are your needs and problems? Make your own list or mind map of your ideal customer’s personality, and highlight the most pertinent points. Note that your target market may be broader than one person! If this is the case then you must come up with lists for each model customer. E.g. You run a cake decorating shop – your target market may include mums with young children, brides, elderly relatives. These are each very different kinds of customer, and you must come up with lists for all of these.

 3. What is my social-media path?

Your next task is to decide how you can use social media as a tool to solve your customers’ problems.

You need to look over your lists again and find crossovers of your target market lists with your business personality. Come up with a strategy that is best matched to both. E.g. your cake shop will want to be appealing to females, show a caring side, thoughtful attention to tiny detail, and deliver tasty quality ON TIME guaranteed!

Your social-media plan should be there to improve your customer’s experience of your business, either to provide an easy forum for communication (taking orders and bookings, giving feedback), an easy way to view your latest products (photos and videos), a chance of receiving a discount or prize (in return for likes or shares), to make your customer smile and fall in love with your brand, or to educate your customer with tips and advice. Just remember, that whatever you do on a social network is completely public!

4. Which social media sites should I use for my business? 
After your initial planning you should have some idea of what social media your customers use. But, If you’re still not completely sure which network to use, you could always ask your existing customers which networks they use the most?  Start from there! You can always build up your presence on more networks as your business grows.

A good start is a business blog, then you can choose one social media network to share it with your target market by posting or tweeting a link to it. Your blog can be informative or fun, and can draw your customers to your website, lead them to your products, or help them learn more about your business and fall in love with your brand.

Remember though, you must relate everything to your social media marketing plan – what does your business want to achieve? This will be the deciding factor on which network to use, because different social media networks work better with some strategies than others. To get you started you will need to compile a selection from:

  •  Useful links
  • Tips / advice / blog
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • A fun or philosophical question to answer

(see more about what to post in next week’s article ‘Part 2: Quality Posts)

Here is a run down of which kind of marketing will work on which network:

  • Twitter account = good for its simplicity, and due to its 140 character limit is not at all time consuming. If your business has a blog or news page – this is a great place to publicise them – you can copy and paste a shortlink of your URL into Twitter and think of a short and grabby sentence that will get your target market to click on your link.  With Twitter, you should not purely tweet about your own business, you should also retweet others’ news. Maybe retweet your suppliers or customers content, or tweets that inspire you and your business. See part 3 of our social media articles for advice about composing top tweets.
  • Facebook page = good for bold photos and images of your products or premises, or pictures / videos of your staff doing their thing. You could run ‘guess the caption of the photo’ competitions, ‘share this post to enter a prize draw’ competitions, ‘like our page for a discount voucher’ – there are endless possibilities. Once you have some likes you can post witty or thoughtful status updates, and ask fun or thought-provoking questions – these don’t need any pictures as your business logo will automatically appear. See our next article: part 2 for advice about composing quality posts
  • Pinterest and Google+ = like Facebook are very visual platforms – they are good for photos and images of your products or premises, or pictures of your staff doing their thing.
  • LinkedIn = good for sharing your business news and helpful advice and business articles.

5. How often should I post new content on my social networks?
This depends both upon your target market and the diversity in content of your posts. You don’t wish to bombard your customers with too many posts as they will get annoyed with you, and you need to think about when your customers will have access to their social network. If your strategy is to post something once a week, then probably you should double this – post the same thing on two different days and at different times of day each time. This way you are sure to reach more of your target market as your followers will be using different social-media sites at different times of the day.

6. How can I tell if this is working? 
You must measure your marketing success in order to determine which types of campaign to continue and which to drop. Some will resonate with your customers and some just won’t work. You can use Google Analytics to view the top referrers to your site: it will list in order  the social media sites that are driving traffic to your online shop or website and you can see instantly whether your efforts are working. Some social networks provide their own statistics for you for free. E.g. If you have a Facebook page or LinkedIn company page, these sites will tell you the numbers of people who are liking, commenting and clicking on your posts and status updates.

7. Everything is changing! How do I keep up?
Bear in mind that the online world is constantly evolving, so you will need to review your social media plan on a regular basis to keep up with any trends and changes. You should do a brief review each month, and at each review, you should consider the following points:

  • Which strategies worked the best?
  • Which strategies were the most cost effective?
  • What have I learned from my customers?
  • Has the market changed?
  • What are my competitors doing?

Look out for our next articles on this subject:

Make Social Media your Friend! Part 2 – Quality posts

Make Social Media your Friend! Part 3 – Top Tweets

Make Social Media your Friend! Part 4 – Social Faux Pas to avoid

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