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A Social Media Marketing Plan For Your Business

Effective social media strategies require proper planning and execution. If you’re new to this and expect to see results from a few blog posts and random updates, you might find the whole endeavor very disappointing. Serious marketers know that in order to harness the full potential of social media one has to incorporate at least these three elements:
• Listening to the audience

• Sharing relevant messages

• Enabling the audience to share the message

So what is it that you’re supposed to share? Good content. You can’t have effective social media marketing without good content. The entire marketing plan originates from a solid content creation strategy. The good thing about useful content is that it gets people to appreciate your brand and share; and the sharing is what builds your brand.
This works whether you’re a small business or a large multinational and it costs very little to set up so the budget shouldn’t be a major factor when setting up. Ever heard that saying that goes “failing to plan is planning to fail?” It’s very true when it comes to marketing because creating a well- detailed social media strategy is just as crucial as having a rock-solid business plan.

In order to attract, engage and ideally convert fans and followers into customers, employ this strategy.
1. What should I aim to achieve from social media?

This depends entirely on what type of business you’re in. you may want to use it to gain exposure for your brand or simply to interact with customers because it’s good for business. Remember, if you’re just winging it your audience will know and that’s not good for you. Try to understand your customers’ goals and find out how to connect with that. One way to do this is to find out how you can use social media to solve your customers’ problems.
2. Who should set up the company’s social media account?

For smaller companies it would be better to delegate the task to a staff member who has experience implementing effective social media campaigns. Larger companies give the job to qualified workers in the marketing department and if the budget allows, some may choose to hire a consultant or firm.
3. Should I create accounts on all social media platforms when starting out?

As a starting point, it would probably be better to operate with a presence on one or two social networks and a blog. The network you choose will be determined by where your audience hangs out; so survey your customers and find out what their most popular platform is. The more the business grows the more social networks you can get into.
4. What’s the best social network for a small business?

Whether you’re operating a large or small business, you can never go wrong with a Twitter account. The platform is easy to learn and it gives your business a voice in the micro-blogging world. Another crucial network to be on is Google+- if only to boost your site’s search engine rankings. If however, you have a B2B firm, social networks such as Slideshare and LinkedIn would be great places to reach influencers, and you wouldn’t go wrong with Facebook and Pinterest.
5. What’s the right frequency to post updates?

Two-five posts each day should be enough. Remember your followers visit social media websites at different times, and a single post each day couldn’t possibly be enough simply due to differences in timing. To reach more people, stragger the posts consistently throughout the day.
6. What type of content should I post?

Again, the purpose of your marketing campaign will determine what you post. But also, the platform you’re using matters to a certain extent. For

instance, PInterest and Instagram are inherently visual, so striking, memorable images detailing your products and services would be ideal if you’re operating such accounts.
Company events and a few behind-the-scenes photos are great for connecting with audiences on these networks. But you may also post text updates on Facebook and have them trend well, especially if you’re posing a question or giving out relevant information. When using Twitter, try to keep a balance between tweets and re-tweets. Curate a diverse mix of content (photos, links, tips, short videos, thoughtful questions, etc.) across different platforms in order to keep things fresh and interesting.
7. Is social media a good platform to provide customer service?

Social media has over time become one of the most popular platforms for businesses to interact with potential and existing customers. You can use all the popular platforms to respond to customer questions and complaints, order status enquires, etc.
8. How exactly does one convert followers into customers?

There aren’t any surefire tactics to get fan’s dollars, however some tricks seem to work better than others. For example, Facebook ads are a simple, affordable way to expand your fan base, boost engagement and collect sales leads. It’s entirely up to you to convert those leads. One of the best ways to go about converting leads is to implement a cross-platform contest that integrates all the popular platforms and perhaps offer sweepstakes that resonate well with the audience and draws in potential customers.

For instance, in order to drive consumers to your online store, you could send a simple tweet that describes an ongoing contest on your Facebook account, and drop a link to the rules of the contest and the entry form on your online store.
9. How do people go about measuring the success of their marketing efforts?
It’s very important to make sure you always track your marketing metrics so as to establish which tactics are working and which aren’t. Some platforms come with their own metrics; Facebook for instance gives you administrator access where you can check out page insights data and use the data to evaluate what’s working and plan your future posts.
LinkedIn offers similar analytics which are essential for business pages. Google analytics can be used to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns and see how your strategy’s driving your traffic to your online store.
10. Biggest mistake to avoid

You can’t afford not to have a social media plan, so create one and stick to it. Remember social media is constantly evolving and in order to stay ahead you have to be prepared to adapt and redefine your strategy as needed. If you do this every few months you will identify which tactics are redundant and in the process work out the best plan for your business.

Most organizations begin their social efforts by listening and engaging with their customers across different platforms but at some point they have to look at the staffing required to carry out an effective campaign and ask what it is they’re really getting from social interaction. In order to maintain a social business strategy that binds disparate efforts together to create a long-term plan that keeps the business growing, significant time and resources have to be set aside.

How To Get Started With Social Media

When using social media to grow a business, the worst action is no action, and the worst problem is invisibility- not bad perception. If you’re part of the conversation you can always massage what people are saying about your brand; but if nobody knows about you, then you have no chance of growth. What this means is that you need to get involved: not only to exploit the many business opportunities available for your business, but also to develop a winning reputation.
It’s a good idea to start by developing a plan that takes into account the social trends that characterize social media interaction today and organize a framework that will help make your conversations popular and relevant. But with all this mass of social networking sites and tools available today, how does one navigate through it all to set up a strategy that works? Here are ten steps to get you started:
• Set up goals. Think about what you hope to achieve from the social interaction. Are you doing it to generate direct sales, offer better customer service, or better yet, develop stronger relationships with your clients? Your answers to these questions will determine how you go about setting goals.

• Consider your resources. It’s going to take more than a clever idea to set up a marketing plan that works: you need people working for you. Someone has to set up the social media accounts, engage with customers and respond to questions, create compelling content, etc.
• Know your audience well. Find out where your audience spends time, what conversations they are involved with, who influences them, and what kind of information they’re looking from you. In order to provide your audience what they want, you first have to understand who they are, how they think, and what they want from you.
• Come up with good content. Once you find out what your audience is into, you can then work on giving them something to talk about and possibly share. Conversations have to keep going and this means creating lots of good content for the audience. Try to create a variety of different types of content that can be shared.
• Consider quality. While the pressure of creating content is certainly understandable, you cannot resolve to create a bunch of pointless topics for the sake of interaction; people will tire of it. The goal here is to build actual customers and that won’t happen if you’re not offering useful information and products/services.
• It’s tempting to promote your products every two minutes on every social platform available to you but you may need to do something not self-promotional so that you don’t come off overly self-absorbed or too salesy.

• Find time every day to look up what’s going on in social circles and engage with your customers to find out what the general vibe is about your brand.
• Learn the culture of social networks. What are your competitors doing and what does that teach you? Learn more about social trends and find out where companies or brands have gone wrong with marketing strategies so that you don’t make similar mistakes.
• Acquire brand ambassadors by observing the most active people in the social networks and encourage them to sell your brand.
So which social platforms should I concentrate on? Most large brands operate dozens of social media accounts but they have more people working on that so you might not be able to start big. Besides, you want to learn how to use each website perfectly to get your message across and this might take more time if you embarked on creating 2o social media accounts at once. Focus your attention where it matters and learn everything about those websites and how larger businesses use them to promote their own brands.
Facebook

When it comes to this, the numbers don’t lie; you want the websites with the highest number of active users in order to get a broader reach. Facebook alone will get you access to a social network with over a billion users worldwide. If Facebook were a country somewhere off the coast of

California, it would be the third largest in the world in terms of population. Features such as Like, Timeline, Newsfeed, Apps, Cover Photo, and Mobile Upload; these will be useful as you gradually build a connection with your prospects, so learn the lingo and get to work.
Twitter

You get up to 140 characters when sending out messages to your subscribers and you can include links, videos and photos as well. Adding images and videos expands the message because the words are somewhat limited and you need to communicate more effectively than 140 characters can articulate.
If you have an existing Twitter account for your brand but have let it drop off lately, you might want to take a fresh look at what Twitter’s offering. Features such as real-time marketing and multi-screen usage will be useful to your marketing efforts. In the world of micro-blogging, Twitter stands as the most powerful tool you can use for business. Other popular micro- blogging sites include Plurk, FriendFeed and Tumblr.
Present your brand

Your social media accounts form the foundation of your marketing efforts. They give you the chance to tell the world about your business and so they need to be well defined. Create a web presence people find appealing and distinct; that way people recognize your brand across multiple platforms.

In order to present the brand more confidently, you have to fill up and complete the profile, and make sure people know your bio, the actual location of the business and the address to the official company website. When creating a social network for your business, start with these people:
1. Customers

2. Business partners, suppliers and contractors

3. Relevant trade organizations for your industry

4. Local businesses in your neighborhood

Work up a time schedule for social media

You could end up spending hours each day trying to keep up top speed with what’s going on online so if you want to manage your time better, create a time management structure to keep your time online useful and strategic. One way to do this is to find out what time your customers start responding to your feeds, and take a couple of hours to engage.