“Social Media” is the latest hot button topic. It’s the buzz word on everyone’s lips, and now that there are several verified stories of how it’s being used to grow businesses and forge new era of engagement among organizations and their stakeholders, it’s now at the top of everyone’s list as they seek to improve their bottom lines.
Many small business owners turn their heads in the direction of Social Media, not just because it’s useful marketing tool, but because the term “FREE” is often juxtaposed to it, thereby helping it fit perfectly on a tight budget. One of the first things that entrepreneurs do when they want to capitalize on the “Social Media Wave” is set up a Twitter or Facebook account (or Fan Page) and then they feel that they now are a part of “the party”. But I contend that in order for a Social Media Marketing Campaign to truly be effective, you have to plan how social media outlets will be used within your overall marketing plan to promote your products and services.
To that end, I like to help my clients navigate the Web 2.0 environment and integrate Social Media into their business by mapping out a Social Media Marketing Plan that fits squarely within the overall marketing plan of a company. Specifically, I create a Social Media Marketing Plan that highlights how social media outlets will be utilized to:
1) Drive traffic to a company’s website or blog,
2) Generate interest in the site’s content,
3) Generate sales or leads for new customers, and
4) Provide ways of keeping existing customers actively engaged in the company’s brand through its website, blog, or other social media outlets.
In order to accomplish the goals set forth in this Social Media Marketing Strategy, I usually take a company through the process of creating and updating their profiles on various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube. Then I delve into more specific strategies intent on acquiring more Twitter Followers, Facebook Fans, LinkedIn Connections, and YouTube Subscriptions through a series of mindful updates that are relevant to each of these communities and ultimately help your company build that brand recognition among the users who frequent these communities.
For those that have already created many of these accounts, I step back and analyze the medium in question in relation to the overall marketing goals of the company. Everyone doesn’t need a Twitter account. Now, it is always a good idea to register your brand name just in case you need it for future use, but just having a Twitter account and sending out random, sporadic, or spammy messages every now and again only promoting your brand, doesn’t do you any good. So part of the Social Media Planning Process is accessing which avenues are going to work best for your brand message to reach your core customers. What that means is if you’re using these outlets now, but not using them well, then you may need to discontinue them, or perhaps change the direction so that it fits better into your online marketing strategy.
The second part of the Social Media Marketing Plan measures the effectiveness of your Social Media Marketing Campaign by monitoring your Social Media Marketing Analytics by some specific metrics. Namely:
- The number of web hits to your company website and/or blog.
- The number of emails collected on your company website and/or blog for your email marketing campaign.
- The number of Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, LinkedIn Connections, and YouTube Subscribers acquired.
- The number of people that attend special events advertised through your social media networks.
- The number of referrals from social media fans, followers, connections, and subscribers.
- The number of new units sold/leads generated.
- The number of units sold/new leads generated from existing customers.
The final component of the Social Media Marketing Plan is monitoring the long-term effectiveness of your company’s social media marketing strategy, as it is key for identifying new customer markets, gaining additional customer feedback, as well as assessing what social media marketing avenues are working best. In this stage, assessing marketing effectiveness occurs by utilizing a collection of online market surveys and/or customer feedback questionnaires, and thoroughly monitoring the analytics of your company’s website, blog, and social media networks, and periodically analyzing the information received for emerging trends and industry shifts.
Social media initiatives can be time consuming, but if done right there can be a great payoff. So, with that in mind: Where are you in your Social Media Planning Process?
Kindra C. Cotton, Serial Entrepreneur, Technology & Social Media Specialist, and Jill of All Trades (and a Master of Two), channels her energies into her small business consulting enterprises specializing in brand marketing, market research, and strategic information consultancy. A transplanted Nashvillian with years of expertise with the Internet and web-based technologies, she channels her passion for entrepreneurship, information technology, and social media into being an excellent resource for online marketers and people looking to promote their brand on the web as Examiner.com’s National Online Marketing Examiner. Her flagship brand “SSS for Success (Small Business Survival Specialists)” specializes in preparing small and medium-sized organizations to take advantage of the free and low-cost marketing avenues that exist in the online arena.