Don’t be scared. Coming up with a social media marketing strategy is not as scary as you think. It’s not complicated either. There aren’t any complicated steps or fancy software that you have to download. You just need to understand a couple of things. That’s where I come in.
So, we know what a strategy is. It’s a plan concocted to achieve an outcome. Sports teams come up with strategies all the time. Coaches keep their different strategies in a playbook. Governments come up with strategies to tackle debt and unemployment. Teachers come up with strategies to get their students to learn certain concepts. With all these entities, they know that there is somewhere that they want to be or something that they want to be at a particular point in the future.
For this post, I am going to assume that you know absolutely nothing about making a social media strategy and that you are basically starting from scratch.
Here’s how you make a social media marketing strategy:
1. Identify what your problem is.
Given that you’ve decided to implement a plan to achieve something, that is usually an indication that you see some sort of problem. You may think that your social media traffic could be higher, you may think that your email list could be longer, you may feel that your online sales are too low for a particular product. Whatever it is, you need to make your own observations and analyses to clearly determine what your issue actually is. It will also help you determine if you actually need a social media marketing strategy in the first place. For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that you do and not that you just need to go out and do some ground work.
2. Decide what your goal is.
You need to know what you want to achieve by having a social media strategy. If you’re just doing it because everyone is doing so……then you would be smart because you’d be au courant. But, au courant to what end? You wouldn’t be motivated to continue on with what you’ve started with because believe you me, social media marketing, and marketing in general, is A LOT of work. It can be really tiring especially if you aren’t seeing your interactions increasing or if people aren’t buying products from your online store. You need to set your goal according to your problem. So once you have your problem defined, you can decide where you want to be. And the goal that you make has to follow the S.M.A.R.T rule (Goals must be Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). So for instance, if you have determined that your social media interaction is too low, then your goal may sound like this “To increase Facebook interactions by 15% over the next three months” or “To gain 400 followers on Twitter in the next 2 months”. Those examples aren’t perfect but I hope you get the overall idea.
3. Identify your niche.
At the end of the day, the center of your campaign is your customer. They are the ones that you are trying to target so you need to customize it to their particular needs or desires. You need to know what market your product would be best suited to or if you don’t have a product quite yet, you have to decide what is a niche that would be the most profitable or one that you would like to work with. They, and your ultimate goal(s), should be the most important elements of your social media marketing strategy.
4. Research your niche.
Knowing about your niche is definitely not the same as knowing it. You may know that your market consists of young, single mothers with small children but that is not enough to construct a proper strategy. Not all young mothers have the same issue, you see, and what you think may be a problem for a niche may only be a problem for a few people or that problem may already be saturated with solutions and would not be the best niche to entertain. Niches are made of people with actual emotions, situations, needs and wants. If you are going to center your campaign around them like you need to, then you have to know them. You can achieve this by either observation, focus groups or surveys. An even smarter thing to do is to look at social media especially Facebook. Go to groups that you think that your niche may be a part of. There are always groups that cater to specific niches. In this way, you can collect information about your niches discreetly and rather organically. The point is that you need to have information on your niches so that you can personalize your strategy.
5. Research the competition.
Sun Tzu’s famous quote goes “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” It’s cool that you know your customers and you know your company but your enemies – I mean, your competitors – are the ones that you really need to watch out for. Think about it – you may have a way that you think is really great to achieve your goal. HOWEVER, 98 of your 100 competitors either have used and are past your strategy (so chances are your niche are over it as well) or they have an exact replica or a variation of your strategy (so your niche is already exposed to the idea and you doing it would not be a good look). It also helps to figure out what some of the latest trends are so that you can at least use methods that are trending. You can also find out which companies target your niche and the products that they are advertising (that is if you still do not have a product at this point) for fresh inspiration.
6. Decide which social media platform will work for your strategy.
This is why research early on is important. Remember when I said that you should use social media to monitor your niche and find information on them? During that time, you would have noticed on which platform(s) the niche was most active. This would be the wisest platforms TO START WITH. You should aim to be at least on two social media platforms at the very beginning and join more of them when you’ve either achieved a goal or need to expand. And note that Facebook doesn’t work for every situation. Your niche may not use Facebook but they could be very active Pinterest users. Go with what your research says works for YOU and what was popular for your niche.
7. Design methods for getting your goal completed.
Whether that is offering freebies, interacting 6 to 8 times a day, giving discounts or having online competitions, you have to come up with a way that you can achieve your goal that is personalized to your niche’s needs, desires, likes, and dislikes. And if you have been doing a diligent job with your research and analysis, this should be fairly easy. The main idea that you should hold in your mind when coming up with ideas is TO PANDER. No one likes to say that that is what it is BUT it is what it is. It’s just that companies are good at making their consumers believe that they (the companies) are ahead of the curve and that the customers need to get on board in order to be in style.
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8. Schedule your plan.
Yes you want to have a photo competition to increase interactions and you know just how you’re going to do it step by step but you can’t have a competition for a whole year. You need to have a start and an end point for various stages of your idea. When to when will you advertise?, when to when will you be registering competitors?, when to when will you accept photos?, when to when will you be judging? This keeps you on track to meet your goal initially set in step one. You can also format this schedule to fit your research on your niche and competitors as well but this step is really geared toward the implementation stage so that you don’t waste time, energy and money and so that you remain as organized as possible.
9. Come up with a contingency plan.
Things happen. Plans fail. Always have a plan B, C, D and E. Outline things that could go wrong and prepare for them. “What if no one wants to enter my competition?” “What if no one responds to my ad?” “What if no one sees my new product post?” “What if no one subscribes?” We’re not trying to be negative here or make you nervous but always expect the unexpected and prepare for them as diligently as you have for your plan A.
10. Write it all down.
Document, document, document. This is so that you can be reminded of what you need to do during the actual implementation of the plan as well as checklist that you’re doing all that you need to do for your plan to work. This written plan can also serve as part of your research for your new strategy when you decide to come up with a new one (You are aware that you’ll have to come up with a new one right? I hope so.)
11. Implement your plan.
This is what you have been preparing for from step one. This is also the most difficult part of any marketing strategy. This is where you do what you planned. Now you just act your plan out to the letter and watch what happens.
This is a stage that is extremely important and at this point, either one of two things may have happened – you either would have failed or you would have succeeded. If you have succeeded, then HURRAH! You should be extremely proud. Now you can move on to the next campaign. You can look at your plan to see what you could have done better, where you can improve and where you were excellent. If, however, you failed, then your contingency plan needs to kick in here. While your contingency plan is in motion, you need to analyze your plan to see what really went wrong in the implantation of your plan A. Go through what you did and look at how people responded at each stage. Go back further if you need to even if that means going all the way back to defining what your issue is because the failure of your plan could mean that you were treating the wrong ailment. If you really feel sure about your plan though, then you can go back and redesign it to make function better. Then, you can always reimplement it at a later date.
As you can see, this is really all about common sense. There is nothing that is remotely difficult about creating a social media marketing strategy. You just have to keep your wits about you. Know your product, know your niche, know your enemy and you’ll have all the power in the world.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the box below. I hope this information was simple and helpful and if it was, be sure to share it everywhere.
Until the next article!