How to Develop a Social Marketing Plan

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In the past, many businesses relied on word-of-mouth advertising to expand clientele, but with social marketing, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of a good review and make more people aware of your brand.

You don’t need to go viral to make a difference for your company. Slow and steady wins this race. Building your audience and engaging with them is what makes a business successful on social media, and in order to do that, you need to put careful thought and effort into your overall social marketing plan.

Determine your goals. There are many ways niche social networks can help your business grow, but it’s important to define which goal (or goals) you want to focus on before you start. A few examples of potential goals include: building brand awareness, finding new clients, keeping in contact with current clients, conducting market research, increasing website traffic, and generating direct sales.

Assess the competition. Before you take the next step, it can be valuable to learn from what other people are doing. Connect with companies in your field and see what they do well and what mistakes they make. What content keeps you engaged? What content do you tune out?

Decide where to focus your efforts. For some companies, there’s just not enough time or resources to maintain a presence on all the major social networks, so you’ll want to find the ones that are best suited for your business and your goals. Research the demographics of the various social networks to see where your desired audience is, and also look for any that may directly target your customers.

Find someone to head your social media program. You may want to assign the task to someone internally to handle, either on a full- or part-time basis, but in some cases it’s better to hire outside help, particularly if you lack the expertise internally. No matter which way you decide to go, you need to ensure that the individual in charge is able to provide regular updates to your social networks and also can reply promptly (within a day or two) to any messages you receive.

Determine the type of content you will offer. This will depend highly on the goals you have for your social media. You want to ensure that anything you post will be useful, interesting, and engaging to your audience. Posting frequent, blatant advertising? That’s not going to keep anyone coming back for more.

Plan for how different types of communication will be handled. What if someone complains about your company? Who will answer product questions? These are things best considered in advance, so you can react quickly to a situation for the best possible outcome.

Establish a plan to track your success. This is a step that many people skip. How will you know if your social marketing plan is successful if you don’t have a way to track it? Social networks take time to build up, but you want to make sure you see progress. You also want to be able to assess how certain strategies are working versus others. The only way to do this is to keep track of metrics as you grow.

 

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