Social media has become a vital part of many small business marketing plans. Occasionally, it’s the only part. But business owners who lack a specific strategy for using social media, end up with a scattershot approach that lacks punch.
This misses a major opportunity to engage with customers and prospects and manage the business’s online reputation.
Without a strategy, you don’t really know what you’re trying to achieve with social media, what you should be doing, what you should be measuring.
If your business intends to conquer the social media marketing world, it needs to have a consistent message. You’ll want to know what resources you’ll need and how they will be used. And you’ll also need to define tactics you will and won’t pursue.
All of this should be written down so that it can be passed to others who are helping you with your social media efforts, or when employees leave.
Here are eight essentials that should be in your social media plan:
- A consistent brand message: It’s okay to be a little less formal in social media channels. But make sure that what you post in different places all speaks with a unified voice and message that reflects what your business is all about. In the planning process, be sure to designate who represents the voice of your company in social media.
- Meaningful content: What you share and talk about in social media is important. Creating content – including words, photos and videos – that is useful, informative and engaging will benefit your business over the long term.
- The right channel selections: Don’t try to be everywhere. That’s not realistic, and you don’t have the resources to be active in all social media channels. Pick a few that are most appropriate for your business. For example, many B2B businesses find LinkedIn to be a fruitful place. Businesses with highly visual products or services can do well with Instagram and Pinterest. And if you’re adept at creating videos, YouTube should be on your list. And, of course, Facebook should probably be in everyone’s plan. Consider Twitter as well.
- Post strategically, not constantly: You don’t have to be constantly tweeting and posting to have impact. Well-timed and thoughtful content is what’s important. For example, research shows that a single daily post on Facebook can be more effective that multiple posts that split the response.
- A way to generate meaningful customer interaction: Customers increasingly use social media to convey their complaints, praise and questions about a business. This creates a golden opportunity that many businesses are blowing. You need to have a listening and responding strategy in place. Listening means more than just keeping an eye out for complaints. Every engagement with a social media user is a great chance for real-time feedback on what your customers are thinking, liking, needing and buying. Think of it as free market research.
- A way to be “follow-worthy”: As part of your plan, think about why customers would want to engage with you on social media. Look at your business from the perspective of an outside observer and ask yourself, “Is what we say and produce worthy of being followed? Is it something that will draw people back again? What’s in it for them? Would I follow us?”
- A way to shake things up: It’s easy to fall into a same-old/same-old routine with social media. To shake things up, plan to introduce some new way of engaging customers on a regular basis. Try to leverage the “social” aspect of social media to create online events that get followers excited. Don’t think of it as a marketing “campaign” but rather as a series of experiments with your followers. Surveys, polls, quizzes, product giveaways and crowdsourcing (of photos, videos, etc.) are examples.
- Referral recruitment: Your plan should also include a strategy to enlist your most loyal fans and customers to help spread the word about your business. They can even act as a kind of “advisory board” for your biz. Harnessing and rewarding these business “ambassadors” is a highly effective form of digital word of mouth.