Developing Your Winning Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media marketing strategy is still a mystery and big unknown channel to many people in business. Many different social media channels create confusion and business and marketing professionals wonder what is a good social media channel for their business, whether a particular channel will bring revenue, will improve branding, generate new leads…
At the same time everyone is aware that you can promote your business, product, event and service too many people and gain visibility and brand exposure. The key question for sales and marketing managers is whether this exposure is beneficial for the business. Just because hundreds of people are exposed to your message doesn’t mean that you can convert them into customers.
In addition, social media marketing is unique in a way that offers you opportunity for interaction with your target market unlike any other media. Email marketing and other traditional marketing alternatives are good for interaction as well but the crucial difference is that social media allows for great visibility and interaction not only between you and your prospects but also interaction will develop among the users them selves. This is the critical difference and requires good planning. When executed well your social media marketing will create a strong community where your target market communicates and share info about you. The downside is that if you make a mistake your message will spread and go viral even faster.
All of these leads to a need for planning and developing social media marketing strategy before you jump into looking at the different channels and social media platforms.
More and more people are becoming internet and social media savvy and know how to use online social media tools which opens a huge opportunity to reach your target audience. The plan should create a roadmap for your presence in various social media markets.
An important point to make is that social media is not free. Contrary to beginner’s logic of social media is free and you can open social media accounts for free and interact… is far from the truth. It is quite contrary because it requires a serious approach of planning, interaction, creating content, monitoring your mentions, answering questions, send updates… Social media marketing is expensive. The question is whether you can create a strategy that will deliver an acceptable ROI both short-term and long-term. A good social media marketing strategy should be innovative and should fit into your other marketing channels including traditional advertising, promotion and marketing.
The Social Media Marketing Strategy Planning Process
Step 1: Define your target audience
Most likely you will target the same prospects you go after with your other marketing campaigns. Identify clearly who is the ideal customer profile.
Step 2: Define the benefits and value that are unique for your business
Don’t copy what others do. Your competitors might be present in social media already but you need to approach in a different way. Develop your own strategic approach. This includes defining the unique benefits of your product and service and uniqueness of your ideal target defined in step 1. This is the same logic used in any promotion – you can promote one single product in many ways based on different benefits so here you need to pick the most important and unique benefit and build your social media presence around it.
Step 3: Define your unique positioning
What you stand for is key. You need to have one general message that you continuously communicate and your target audience can easily correlate with and appreciate your core message. Are you an expert in your field willing to help others with tips or you are the best provider in your market willing to save money to your customers… What do you stand for is the question you need to answer in order to build your core message and your positioning.
Step 4: Choosing your social media platforms
What are the social media channels used by your ideal customers? You need to focus your strategy there. For example, if you are targeting consumers Facebook might be a good way to go while in case you target business professionals LinkedIn should be the channel you are going after. Make a list of social media platforms where you can reach your target market in an effective way.
Step 5: Integration
You need to integrate all your activities in a single social media marketing strategy. All your activities in all the different places should integrated and coordinated. Your main website or blog must be a center of all your activities. All your social media communities will link to your website or blog. You must have one central point where your followers can learn in more details about specific products, services and events.
Step 6: Budget and Team
Social media marketing requires ongoing engagement and activities. At this point you need to define the requirements of engaging with your social community. Does it require full-time employee or you can outsource this job externally? Be very specific in terms of who will do what and in terms of your budget – how much you are willing to invest in social media marketing.
Step 7: Monitoring
Define in what ways you will monitor the ongoing developments in your community. This is critical for success. Unlike traditional marketing, social media marketing is mainly controlled by the users – your prospects and customers and it is ongoing. You have to monitor the mentions about your brand and your company. You have continuously check messages and comments you receive from your community. It requires an ongoing engagement and integrated communication on your part.
Step 8: Measuring results
This is very important because here you need to find a way to measure your ROI on social media. Since the bottomline for any business will always include generating leads, conversion and profitability in addition to brand and good will, you have to find ways how you will measure the results. You must track the visitors coming from social media and the conversion rate of those visitors. This will help you calculate 3 important metrics for your business: the number of leads you generate with social media, the conversion rate of this traffic (the conversion in most cases is different based on the source of the traffic so you need to measure the conversion of social media traffic separately from other traffic coming to your website) and average transaction per customer coming from social media.
Step 9: Continuously improve your social media marketing strategy
Your plan should be dynamic and responsive to the latest developments. Based on your key metrics evaluate your progress and results and adjust your strategy. What works today may not work as well 6 months from now. Continuously adjust and improve.
Step 10: Content creation
The key ingredient in your social media marketing activities is creating content. Content includes articles, videos, product pages, sales pages, resources, pictures, guides, tips… that you share with your followers. The content brings the followers to your website or to your location. Having a continuous process for creating content is a must for developing successful social media marketing strategy. When you measure your results continuously monitor what kind of content attracts most followers and leads for your business and continuously improve your content.
As a conclusion, every social media platform is different and users expect and act based on different triggers. It is very important for you to understand the social platform on which you are working because different platforms demand different approaches. Spend some time as a user on different platforms in order to experience and learn the platform before you start marketing there.