Guide to developing social media marketing plan

Starting has always been the most difficult part of any task. That seemingly simple decision to get things kicking is, in reality, not easy. So we often tend to keep putting off the commencement of any project because starting appears so scary. Sometimes the reason for this is that we see others who have started long ago and a part of us tells us we’re too late. That is why you might find yourself lacking the needed motivation to start learning that C++ program you always wanted to learn because, as you tell yourself, the other web developers are so far ahead of you already.
There is an easy get-around to this problem however. It is called “planning.” And in social media marketing, it is both quite easy and pretty hard. Given that social media has come to stay as a platform engaging people from around the world, and given that most of these people have grown a strong attachment to these social networks, any every business of the 21st century has to develop a social media marketing plan. Here is how to utilize the tools of this media for your business’s benefit.

1. Choose your social media network(s)
The first thing to do when you want to start social media marketing is to chose the social media networks you want to work with. One way to make a good choice is to determine your audience. Know your target and at the same time, consider how much time you can devote to those social media channels. You should also consider the specific demands of each social network before choosing any. Facebook, for example, require quality content so you must have a commendable skill in content creation in order to thrive there. Other social media networks like Instagram rely on pictures and videos so you should have an eye for captivating images and interesting videos.

2. Articulate your profile vis-à-vis those of your target customers
“Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.” – Beth Comstock
Your online presence should reflect the business. Your intended customers should be able to recognise your brand easily and see how it appeals to their needs. One way to achieve that is to ensure that your online profile is cohesive, that it is consistent with your business branding. In other words, cohesiveness is key to establishing a convincing profile. If you intend to market your business through multiple networks, ensure that you have the same profile picture for both Facebook and Instagram, that your cover photo on Twitter is similar to the one on LinkedIn. For your bio, make the language concise, fresh, and simple. Avoid cliché, and make sure you capture in it the answer to the pertinent question in the minds of your potential customers; “What’s in it for me?” Ensure to revisit your profile regularly and keep it updated.

3. Establish a voice and tone resonating with your business type
“What makes you weird, makes you unique and therefore makes you stand out.” – Dan Schawbel
If your business targets youths and young adults, it wouldn’t help to use verbose words or long-winding paragraphs. Your tone should be colloquial in a way that doesn’t play down the relevance of your business. There should also be a pattern to your posting such that potential customers can be kept engaged even when they are still skeptical about patronising your business. Your posts and picture uploads should steadily reflect the unique nature of your business; so avoid vague expressions that could as well have been used by another businesses.

4. Establish yardsticks for measuring progress
“If you cannot measure it you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin
This is where you gauge the actual impact your social media marketing is making on your business. Likes, retweets, followings, etc., might be observed as it shows the growth in the level of engagement with your social media marketing outfits, but they should not be the ultimate metrics for measuring impact. Instead, consider more meaningful targets such as web referrals, leads generates and convention rates.

5. Conduct regular social media audits
This is the point where you do intensive underground work. Conscious observation is very necessary here to identify the efforts put in so far and their dividends, a sort of stock taking. Examine the comments of subscribers to your social media accounts and evaluate the aspects you’re not doing well at. It would benefit you also to take note of the social media networks where you perform most on and concentrate your efforts there. If a competitor is already vastly dominant on Facebook but dormant on Twitter, then channel a lot of efforts to the latter so that the market there, hitherto uncatered for, would be drawn to your business.
This is also where you track any impostor account and take steps to report them or sensitize potential customers so they don’t get misled by the fake accounts.

6. Create a posting timeline
Once you start posting, there’d be a tendency that you’d get carried away by the euphoria of any positive feedback you start getting. Don’t get all blown up. Make sure you have a blueprint for the sort of content you want to be posting. A very effective content mix should follow the 80-20 formula; where 80% of your posts aim to inform, educate or entertain your customers while the other 20% promote your business directly. You can also try the social media rule of thirds:
One-third of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
One-third of your social content shares ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
One-third of your social content involves personal interactions with your audience.
Once you have your calendar set, use scheduling tools or bulk scheduling to prepare your messaging in advance rather than updating constantly throughout the day. This allows you to craft the language and format of your posts rather than writing them on the fly whenever you have time.

7. Track, analyze and optimize
One thing that needs to be reiterated at this point is that social media sharing is a very personal and individual endeavour. So while this guide will help you through the basics of social media marketing, it is left to you to track the specific results you achieve as you progress. Naturally, as you keep posting, you’d discover which content, timing and frequency that is best for you. This will help you tailor further content sharing to achieve optimum results. Social media marketers rely on trial and error; so it shouldn’t be a shock if little is achieved for a while after you start marketing on social media. Track your results, analyze the data, and make adjustments to optimize your social media marketing strategy.

I’d conclude by reminding you that social media can make or mar any business. Social media marketing is a risk; there is a possibility that poor social media marketing can cripple a business with huge potentials. That is why you must avoid being on the wrong sides of any viral online activity. As much as possible, your social media identity should not be tied to you or to anybody for that matter, so that in case you or any member of your team gets their reputation soiled online, the business would not take the drop for it.
And keep an eye out for further updates on this blog.




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