How to Create Your Social Marketing Plan
A recent statistic shows that 68% of Chief Marketing Officers feel they are unprepared for the challenges of using social media as an integrated part of their marketing programs. Yet all felt that they should be using it – they just aren’t sure how or why.
As the buzz about social media continues, and you’re confronted with attractive market numbers such as 140 million U.S. users of Facebook each month, you are probably in the same place as all those CMOs.
How do you start to integrate social media into your business mix?
As with all other marketing sources, you first need to create a plan for using social media. Here are the steps to take to decide how social media will work for you.
1. Decide what you want to accomplish with social media. Do you want to build brand awareness, entice new customers, communicate with your existing customers, do research by getting people to respond to questions, or do you want social media to be a step in generating direct sales?
2. Determine who is going to manage and control your social media program. Because social media is a written form of communication, it is best to have a limited number of people working with it, and one person in charge. That way you have a consistent style and voice in your messages and can more quickly build connections with customers and visitors.
3. Keep your social communications fresh, informative, entertaining and rewarding. People will not waste time visiting your Facebook page if it is dull and self-promoting. You have to provide content that they find so compelling they’ll “like” it and share it with friends. If your visitors aren’t sharing your content because it is dull and uninteresting, that’s the image they’ll have of your brand.
4. Set aside specific intervals of time each day to check your social media messages. If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to pay someone to spend 8 hours a day checking Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social sites. But if you’re using these sources, you’ll need to check-in frequently so that fresh posts from visitors don’t go unanswered. People don’t expect immediate responses, but they do expect a response.
5. Become a fan of a company, product or service you like. Follow them daily, post and communicate with them, see what they do and don’t do that keeps you engaged. Social media is relatively new as a marketing source, so learn from those who are already using it and doing it well.
6. Determine what type of social media is best for your goals. Start with just one source. People spend more time on Facebook than any other social site, so that may be the best one to use first. If your messages are better in a visual format, YouTube might be best for you.
7. Have a plan for responding to all types of communications, from praise to complaints. Your social media team needs to be able to handle requests, demands and threats as well as compliments. Because you can’t control what others will write, be prepared for an “anything goes” approach and have effective ways established for dealing with whatever comes your way.
8. Remember that marketing is about the customer, not about you. Don’t fall into the trap of talking about what your product does, or what your company’s philosophy is. Keep your communications focused on benefits for your customers, and post as if you are writing to just one person.
Once you’ve developed your strategy and goals for using social media, spend several weeks doing practice posts. This will help you clarify your communication style, and give you a feel for how demanding the social media marketing will be. You want to be totally prepared before launching the program.
When you implement your program, use every communication channel in the rest of your marketing plan to get people to engage with you on social media. To quickly build your social connections offer an incentive for a first-time visit and post. Instead of saying “visit us on Facebook” tell them to “visit us on Facebook and get . . . [offer something for free].
The key to including social media successfully is to remember that the “old” rules of marketing still apply – it’s just the medium that’s different. Keep it simple, focus on what benefits your customer, be true to your brand, and measure your results. Make your customers your raving fans on social media, and they’ll do the rest.