Getting Started: Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

October 7, 2013 Emily Bauer

Developing and executing a successful marketing campaign requires strategic planning at every step of the process; however, not all types of marketing receive the same respect and thoughtfulness they deserve. Many people assume that social media marketing is a less stringent form of promotion because everyone and their grandmother have a Facebook account. Unfortunately, this type of incorrect thinking will get you into trouble once you realize that social media marketing requires the same attention to detail as any other form of marketing.

Following a well thought-out plan is the best way for social media marketers to launch successful and effective campaigns. You would never start publishing bits and pieces of a traditional marketing campaign without first considering the big picture, so why would you begin using social media for promotion without first hashing out a plan?

From choosing what type of content to feature, to which angle to adopt when posting content, there are many factors to consider prior to unleashing your brand on social media. Let’s take a closer look at the first steps you should take before starting a new social media marketing campaign.

Choose a Tone That Will Resonate With Your Audience

There are two parts to every message: what you say and how you say it. The tone and diction used in social media updates are almost as important as the content itself. Do you want your brand to have an informal voice? Should it be educational, serious, playful or controversial? It is sometimes best to strike a balance between sounding like an industry expert and providing entertainment value that will engage fans.

A major influence in determining your tone and message is recognizing who your audience is on each social network. If you want to connect with people and hold their attention, you must identify who you are speaking to and tailor your tone to cater to that audience. The most successful social media campaigns find a compromise between accurately representing a brand’s unique voice and modifying their tone to resonate with the target audience.

Another important aspect of choosing an angle and tone is finding something sustainable for the long run. If you create a social media identity and stick with it, you’ll be more memorable and trustworthy than if you constantly re-invent your brand through Twitter. Familiarity and reliability breed stronger relationships with fans and encourage customer loyalty.

Smaller companies might rely on an employee who is proficient in social media to post their updates, while bigger businesses might outsourcing their social media updates to a marketing firm. Whatever your situation, make sure the person you designate to schedule updates is familiar with the tone, message and goal intended by your social media campaign.

Establish a Goal

One of the initial steps in creating a social media plan is to establish a main goal to focus all of your activity around. What is the function of your marketing campaign? What are you trying to instill or inspire in your audience? The answers to these questions will vary depending on your company and your specific business needs, which is why this step is so important for every company to complete.

Defining a main goal will provide your social media campaign with substance and direction. The tricky part is figuring out how your brand’s goals relate to the needs and wants of your customers and then using your marketing strategy to reconcile the two.

Social media is a tool that can be used for engaging with customers directly, holding contests and sharing promotional material, or simply to increase your brand’s exposure. Marketing without a clear goal is wasteful and unlikely to resonate with your audience.

Determine What Type of Content Will Help Reach That Goal

Once a clear marketing objective has been outlined, you must plot out how to achieve it. A core component of social media marketing is the actual content being published: what type of Facebook updates and tweets will ensure fans receive the message you’re hoping to send? An important consideration when choosing the type of content your want to publish is which social media site you are using. Certain types of content are more effective on specific forms of social media.

Text-Only Content: Can be useful on Facebook for asking questions and sparking debate, perhaps by asking which of two products your fans prefer.

Visual Content: Pictures, infographics and otherwise visually appealing content are effective on sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, where eye-catching images are most likely to capture the user’s attention.

Content with Links: Placing links to external websites can be effective on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, especially if the readable excerpt or accompanying image is of interest to your fans.

Sharing & Reposting Content: Twitter is the king of sharing content posted by your fans and industry partners because retweeting requires little effort but suggests a high level of engagement with your followers. However, retweeted content should also be counterbalanced with original posts of your own.

Create a Schedule For Updates

There’s much more to social media marketing than tweeting once a day when it crosses your mind. Just as a content calendar is crucial to content marketing through a blog or website, a carefully timed social media posting schedule can increase the number of customers who view your updates.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were one set time when all of your followers logged in to social media sites? Then you could guarantee that everyone sees your fresh updates as you post. Unfortunately, people visit social media at different times throughout the day, so the best way to increase your visibility is to post multiple updates per day. Experts recommend posting a minimum of two times a day on each site, but staggering 4 or 5 posts throughout the day is ideal. Even if you have great, engaging content, it won’t mean anything if no one sees it.

The Value of Planning

The initial steps in planning your social media marketing campaign are crucial to long-term success. A well organized, detailed strategy can mean the difference between poorly timed updates that nobody cares about and posting engaging content that entices consumers, grows your fan base and converts followers into paying customers.

About the Author

Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.

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