More than 74 percent of adults use a social networking site. Of those, 78 percent say a company’s social media posts influenced their buying decisions. Your organization cannot miss the chance to influence almost 80 percent of its market.
Social media marketing is not option for any organization.
If you aren’t using social media (or aren’t using it well), it’s likely because you’re not sure where to start. It’s time to create a social media marketing plan to detail your organization’s social media goals and the actions necessary to achieve them.
Notice that I didn’t tell you to go open a Facebook account and start spamming everyone with your message? There’s a reason for that. There’s nothing strategic about annoying people. It will not make them customers. In fact, it will turn them against your organization, making it difficult (if not impossible) to win them back.
Social media is not about pummeling your potential audience with your message, it’s about strategically using tools to build a relationship with people who share common traits with your organization.
The best way to get started on a social media marketing plan to consider the social media marketing planning cycle.
Social media marketers use the continuous planning cycle to monitor progress of social media elements, to test alternative ideas or approaches, and to help in incorporating feedback to adjust the social media marketing plan over time.
The planning cycle follows these steps, but can begin the place most suitable for your organization’s needs.
Listen to what people are saying about your organization. This enables you to evaluate the organization’s current social media presence, which guides you in setting social media goals and strategies to achieve them. Listening also helps you better understand what the competition is doing and helps you discover what people are discussing before you join the conversation.
Once you understand your audience’s behavior, location, tastes, and needs, it’s time to focus on what you want to use social media to do for them. Set social media goals that satisfy your audience’s unmet needs and capitalize on your organization’s strengths and the opportunities available to it.
Objectives are specific things you must do to achieve your goals. Objectives should:
- Be written in “to verb” form,
- Be specific (What exactly do you want to accomplish?),
- Be measurable (have quantifiable results),
- Be realistic (make them challenging, but feasible), and
- Be time bound (provide a date by which you must accomplish the goal; best not to have all objectives due simultaneously).
For example, an objective for your social media plan might be: To increase sign-ups on our website’s email list by 20 percent during the three-month campaign, which begins in March.
How do you plan to accomplish your goals? You answer that question generally here by identifying organizational specific methods you will use to accomplish your social media goals.
For example, a strategy to accomplish the objective above might be:To increase sign-ups on our website’s email list by 20 percent during the three-month campaign by encouraging our Instagram and Facebook users to register for the site.
Identifying the audience
This is where you identify the audience you want to reach with your social media communication. It may be your current audience and people like them or a different group altogether.
By now you should have determined the social media sites where your target audience resides. You should focus your organization’s social media efforts on those platforms.
The real fun begins here! You know what you want to accomplish, you identified your audience and you selected the best tools to reach them. This is when you execute the tactics discovered above.
Tactics are the details of how exactly you will accomplish this strategy. In sticking with the example above, your tactics would detail as specifically as possible what those two special issues would entail, when they would publish, how you would approach selling advertising to them, etc.
It seems worthy to note that many organizations don’t do any of the steps above implementing. They just create social media accounts and start slinging hash. This, of course, is a large part of the reason they don’t get the results they want (if any). Their efforts aren’t strategically focused on an audience, using the tools to best reach them with carefully constructed messages. Even worse than risking getting little feedback from their efforts, these organizations are in jeopardy of creating crises with their ill-considered direct communication with their audience.
While the steps above are important, they are not fail safe methods of using social media. It’s important to track, measure and evaluate your organization’s social media marketing initiatives. You may need to tweak your initial methods. You also likely will discover that your organization and your audience change over time, resulting in the need for adjustments.
There is nothing stagnant about social media. It is a constantly changing method of engaging directly with your audience. These dynamic platforms result in the need to continuously adjust and improve your social media marketing campaign to maximize its success. You can’t just post a photo on Instagram and sit back and watch your audience (and customer base) flourish. It just doesn’t work that way.
Your organization can’t afford not to communicate with 74 percent of the people online. But you also can’t take a chance of communicating the wrong message or wasting your efforts because they’re not strategic. Using this social media planning cycle will help you create and implement a strategic social media marketing plan instead of just adding to the noise and potential creating problems for your organization.