Mention creating a social media business plan in some circles, and people might look at you funny. Business plans are Big Serious Things some business owners only create to help get a loan, if at all.
And social media is meant to be the fun and casual side of the business, right?
While, yes, you can have fun getting to know customers and industry peers on social media, the fact is it’s serious business.
More to the point, it’s a serious part of your marketing strategy, and to do well on social media among so much competition takes planning.
Creating a Social Media Business Plan
Your social media business plan doesn’t have to be formal, but it should be on (virtual) paper, and it should be organized for easy reference.
No two social media business plans will be alike, but all should include these 11 essential elements:
#1 Starting Data
In order to see the results of your social media plan, you need to set your baseline — that is, the average numbers before social media (or before implementing a new social media plan).
Track your website stats, such as average number of hits per day, engagement (the amount of time people spend on your site), bounce rate (the number of people who leave your website soon after clicking), and your lead generation rate (the number of people who sign up for your newsletter, coupon, etc).
These are the numbers you’re going to focus on in the first months of your new plan. If the numbers don’t improve, you’ll probably need to re-evaluate your strategy.
#2 Identify your Demographic
Knowing your core demo is essential when it comes to a successful social media plan. While all kinds of people invariably use all different social media platforms, each one has its major demo.
If your demo doesn’t fit with the average type of use for a certain network, you could wind up wasting your time.
There are a couple of ways to identify your demo: one is by tracking the customers you already have, and the other is pinpointing the customers you want.
#3 Choose the Best Networks
So, say your demo is professional women aged 30-49. According to The Pew Research Center analysis for August 2015, you will probably want to consider a couple of these networks:
- Facebook — With over 70% of adult internet users and nearly 80% of internet users in the 30-49 demo using Facebook, it makes sense to tap into the potential of this, still the largest social media network.
- Twitter — While only 23% of the adult population of internet users (29% aged 30-49) use Twitter, savvy urban professionals are among them.
- LinkedIn — Business-oriented LinkedIn is full of professionals, with nearly half of adult college graduates having an account. It’s the only social network that is predominantly over 30.
- Pinterest — Still going strong, Pinterest has a demographic made up largely of women over 30 with an income of $50,000 or more.
- Instagram — Though the Instagram demo skews young, the visual platforms draws women of all different ages — if your product is or can be marketed in a highly visual way, Instagram is a good choice.
- Youtube — Pretty much everyone uses Youtube at some point.Networks you might want to pass on, based on those demographics, at least for now:
- Snapchat: The demo is too young.
- Vine: Young and fun, you can certainly do well on Vine with enough creativity, but with this demo, it’s probably not the network to start with.
- Tumblr: Mostly young, creative, and suspicious of businesses marketing on the network. Any professional women aged 30-49 on Tumblr are probably trying to escape from talking business.
#4 Find the Best Tools for You
Social media tools can make all the difference, especially if you choose to start with more than one. From scheduling posts to analytics to finding content, tools like these can make implementing your social media plan so much easier:
- Hootsuite: A social media management tool that will keep your posts coming on schedule, even when you’re away.
- Feedly: A customizable rss feed reader that will help you curate content from all over the web
- Social Mention: Go beyond basic analytics and see how often your brand is mentioned on social media when you’re not looking.
#5 Find your Voice
How does your business sound? Dry and matter-of-fact, or friendly and engaging? While there’s a time and a place for dry text — legal papers, materials lists, instructions — your social media voice should have some kind of personality.
That’s not to say you have to be cracking jokes 24/7 or using slang you don’t normally use to try and connect with certain demos (believe me, they will always see through it), but you social media voice should be friendly and conversational.
Pull back from “talking” like a salesman, if that’s how you normally communicate. People will interact with businesses that come off like trusted friends. Salesmen, not so much.
#6 Offer Value
As a business, you need to attract followers who are total strangers if you’re going to succeed. The best way to do that is to offer them something they value.
That doesn’t necessarily mean giving things away from free, though the occasional contest or giveaway never hurt.
People are likely to follow if you offer them good, helpful content they can use consistently. Don’t just throw discounts at them, make yourself a reliable expert they’ll want to come to when they need something in your area or industry.
#7 Be Savvy
What exactly, does a “savvy” social media marketer do? She connects with people and builds real professional relationships with [potential] clients and industry peers.
How is that done? It might be easier to tell you how it’s not done: Don’t go around posting promotional content and opening conversations by talking about your business.
People will see right through that, and will find you less trustworthy if they think you’re only there to sell things.
The savvy social media marketer is there to promote and sell, but it rarely looks like it.
#8 Listen to What People are Saying
You can track trends and find opportunities you didn’t know existed if you spend as much time listening to people on social media as you do talking.
Listen to your direct interactions, even (especially!) if they’re critical. Track your Social Mention mentions to find out what people are really saying about your brand. And pay attention to the things your industry peers are talking about, because it can give you great insight into what people want.
With these business plan essentials in place, you’ll be on your way to social media marketing success. Remember to always be flexible, especially when it comes to social media. If part of your plan isn’t giving you the results you want, revisit and re-work as often as necessary to get you where you want to be.
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