7 Steps For An Effective Social Media Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan

photo credit: pixabay

With 2016 under way, one thing is clear: social media is now a vital marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. The common question a few years ago, “why should our business use social media?”, is now being replaced with, “how can our business grow with social media marketing?”.

As a social media marketer, this makes me very excited. What doesn’t make me excited is how many businesses are still trying to market on social media without a documented strategy. In this post you will learn the seven steps your business must take to create an effective social media marketing strategy.

Step 1: Audit Your Current Social Presence

“Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.” – Beth Comstock

Before you strategize about where you are headed, take a quick look at where you are. A few areas to consider when auditing your business’s social media presence are:

  • Which networks are you currently active on
  • Are your networks optimized (photo and cover images, bio, URL, etc.)
  • Which networks are currently bringing you the most value
  • How do your profiles compare to your competitors’ profiles

Step 2: Document Who Your Ideal Customer Is

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker

You will want to get as specific as possible with this part. For example, if you identified your target market as parents it would be ok. However, if you identify your ideal customer as a parent that lives in the United States, is between 30 and 50 years of age, earns over $70,000, primarily uses Facebook and has an interest in outdoors activities you will have much more success.

Even the best marketers will fail if they are marketing to the wrong audience. Answer the following questions to help you come up with a highly focused buyer persona:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Job Title
  • Income
  • Pain Points (that your business can solve)
  • Most Used Social Network

Step 3: Create A Social Media Mission Statement

“What makes you weird, makes you unique and therefore makes you stand out.” – Dan Schawbel

Your social media mission statement will drive your future actions, so make sure you put some thought into it. This statement will make it clear exactly what you plan to use your social media presence for and should reflect your brand identity. Keep in mind your ideal customer when trying to create this statement.

An example mission statement might be “to use social media to educate current and potential customers about digital marketing, with a focus on social media marketing.” Once you have this statement documented, it will make it simple for you to decide what to share and create.

If it doesn’t align with your mission statement, forget about it. Businesses that post randomly without a guiding mission will fail. People follow experts, not generalists.

Step 4: Identify Key Success Metrics

“If you cannot measure it you cannot improve it.” – Lord Kelvin

How will you determine if your social media marketing efforts are successful? I am not just talking about gaining more followers, I am talking about making money. Afterall, it is hard to rationalize spending time and money on something that isn’t improving the bottom line.

A few metrics to consider measuring are:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Time Spent on Website
  • Reach
  • Brand Mentions
  • Sentiment
  • Total Shares

Step 5: Create and Curate Engaging Content

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet.” – Bill Gates

Sadly, many businesses jump straight to this step. Hopefully this post has made it clear that there are several vital steps that you must take before you start creating and curating engaging content to share on your social media channels.

Let’s now discuss the fun part, posting to social media. You know who your ideal customer is and you used that information to create your social media mission statement. Armed with this information it should be easy for you to begin creating and curating content. So, what exactly is considered content? Here are a few examples of content you could create:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Blog Posts
  • Company News
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Interviews

The list of content ideas goes on and on, but make sure you focus only on forms of content that align with your mission statement, as well as your skill set. Content is what fuels social media, so it is crucial that you consider creating high quality, engaging content as a top priority.

I strongly recommend that you create a content calendar that outlines how often you will post to each network, which topics you will share and when you will share them.

Step 6: Invest In a Social Media Management Tool

“We live in times in which ordinary people can do amazing things using the right tools”

Most marketers have a secret, they leverage tools to boost their productivity. Ok, maybe it isn’t a secret, but without tools marketers would face constant burnout (many do even with tools). When it comes to social media, having a social media management tool allows you to scale your efforts with ease.

One of the main benefits of a social media management tool is the ability to schedule posts ahead of time. Remember that content calendar you created? Make sure your scheduled posts in your social media management tool align with your content calendar.

Step 7: Track, Analyze, Optimize

“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.” – Ronald Coase

This may be the most important step when it comes to succeeding on social media. Even the best social media marketers rely on trial and error. It might seem basic, but tracking your results, analyzing the data and then making tweaks to optimize them is crucial.

Each previous step should be re-evaluated after you have had time to analyze the results of your marketing efforts. Let the data drive you. If it is telling you Facebook or Twitter is your most effective channel, consider doubling down.

A great social media strategy is never set in stone. It is a constant work in progress that changes when necessary. So get out there, create a strategy and start optimizing it as you continue to grow and learn more about your business and your audience.

 

Xavier Davis HeadshotXavier Davis is a Digital Marketing Specialist at eClincher, an easy to use social media management tool. When he isn’t crafting killer digital marketing campaigns, he can be found reading, writing and hiking. If you have any questions or would like to say hello, connect with Xavier on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Why (and how) you should let your customers do the advertising for you

customer advertising

photo credit: DSC_0134 via photopin (license)

I grew up in the nineties, and my parents weren’t big on technology. My first computer had a 486 processor with a monochrome screen, it ran DOS, and it had Chessmaster 3000 on it. It was given to me by the people who owned the used bookstore in town after it had finally become too dated for even them to use. I loved that little computer.

Finally, one Christmas, my parents broke down and bought a more modern computer. It had Windows 95 and could connect to the internet. I was in heaven. I quickly taught myself to write HTML and launched my first website, a resource for pet rabbit enthusiasts.

Since that time, I have been responsible for the creation and promotion of many more websites, some of which have gone on to become full-fledged, successful businesses.

I am currently CEO of a company I founded around 8 years ago: Hatchwise. Hatchwise is a crowdsourced design community that has designed over a million different logos, websites and graphics of all kinds.

When I first launched Hatchwise, I was still running an internet company I had started previously, called MyCustomLogo, which relied almost 100% on PPC ads to bring in new sales. My company was profitable, but I was constantly stressing over the daily fluctuations in advertising cost. Also, there were a massive amount of competitors who were offering services which were priced similarly to mine, who were then advertising in the same places I did. So each of these factors made me decide that I wanted my next business to rely heavily on word of mouth, and to avoid PPC bidding wars and razor thin margins.

I was successful. The vast majority of contests started on Hatchwise come from people who heard about us through word of mouth, and who then go on to tell others about us, and just about everybody who wraps up a contest on Hatchwise has nothing but good things to say about us.

In this article, I am going to detail what we focus on here at Hatchwise, and why our customers love to tell their friends about us.

1. Focus on what you are selling. If people love the experience they’ll come back.

If your main focus is on getting new customers, but you’re neglecting the service, software, or experience that you are selling, then, in my opinion, you are wasting your time. Having a solid offering will increase your conversion rate and help you maintain a healthy growth. You should always strive to be a company that you would want to be a customer of.

Make sure that you have a website that is scalable and user-friendly. You do this by getting feedback from as many actual customers as possible. For example, it may seem to you that your website is easy to navigate, but you can’t know this for sure until you’ve gotten feedback from the people who are actually using it. Ask them what they like and don’t like about it, and how you can improve their experience.

Once you have a solid website and product you can then focus on spreading the word because everyone who uses your website or buys your product will be telling their friends about you. Obviously, the same situation applies if a customer has a bad experience, which is where the next point comes in.

2. Go above and beyond with your customer service. Everyone should have an amazing experience.

In our current day and age, people expect fast and responsive customer service. One of the things we do at Hatchwise is to make sure that all emails are responded to as quickly as possible. We also try to be aware that if we are consistently getting the same questions over and over, we need to figure out what we can do to eliminate the issue that is causing the email in the first place.

We use every email we receive as a chance to think about how we could make the customer experience easier and better than it already is. There have been times when a customer had an idea, and we implemented it that day, simply because it was a great idea. Every customer is important to us, and if they take the time to provide an idea or problem we take it very seriously.

3. If you never ask you’ll never know.

Several years ago, we began requesting feedback on our customers experience after they’ve completed a contest. This really helped us scale efficiently because we quickly identified issues that affected multiple customers. One of the big issues that arose was that the site was not mobile friendly. We realized pretty quickly by hearing feedback from customers that having a mobile-friendly site was very important to them, which is something that we had, for whatever reason, not really paid any attention to.

We also created an easy way for customers to share issues and request improvements as they were in the process of running a contest. This made it simple for customers to let us know about an issue they were having without having to email us. So we have also received a lot of great suggestions through this tool.

4. Do what you do better than anyone else.

Regardless of what you sell, customer satisfaction should be your number one concern. Identify what your customers want from you and make sure they get what they want. At Hatchwise, we realize the most important aspect of our website is the design that the customer receives. With that as our focus, we’ve worked hard to make sure that the designers who use Hatchwise are completely happy. We do this by dealing as fairly as possible with the hundreds of little issues that pop off when you have a community of thousands of designers, and also, we do this by making sure the website has all the tools and features that they require in order to operate as efficiently as they can. Shortly after we launched we created a unique program that runs in the background of the site that catches most clipart and keeps designers from copying the work of other designers.

By making sure that the designers are happy, we are able to provide an overall better experience to our clients, which results in everyone being happy.

5. It’s okay to reward people.

For a long time we did not have an affiliate program. Anytime a customer referred us it was because they thought we were awesome and they received nothing for doing it. We have recently launched an affiliate program after receiving a lot of requests to implement one. The results have been great. Giving people an incentive to recommend us was something that we should have done a while ago. If people love you and also receive something for recommending you, they are going to do it way more often.

6. It’s all about happiness.

Focusing on customer satisfaction and making it easy for customers to share any issues they are having is one of the biggest things you can do to grow your platform. It’s easy to create banner ads and market your site, but if the customers you have already have are not 100% satisfied, you are wasting your money. It is much better to have your existing customers be the marketers for your website. This will save you a significant amount of money and you will have a much more stable site.

George RyanGeorge Ryan is a serial entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Hatchwise, a community of tens of thousands of graphic designers and writers who have created over a million amazing designs and company names since 2008. George resides on the Connecticut coast, where he enjoys photography, his family, and starting new businesses.

 

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