Social media is many things to many, many people. It’s a way to keep in touch with friends near and far, current or past. It’s a means of sharing photographs, touching moments, thoughts, and videos of people falling over. It is also one of the most potent weapons a business has in its marketing arsenal, and one which can hit far more target customers far more easily than any other marketing method.
Unfortunately, many companies are still employing an uncoordinated scattergun approach to their social media marketing, meaning a lot of their ammunition is wasted. If they want to increase their hits, they need to shoot for a real social media plan and set their sights on some tangible targets.
Which platforms best fit your audience?
Not every social media platform was created equal, and the first step to crafting a social media plan is to decide which ones are likely to give the greatest return on the time invested in them. Visual platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram attract a different demographic to Facebook and Twitter, and it’s not uncommon to see a company succeed on one and relatively fail on another.
Identifying where your target audience hangs out online is crucial to finding them with your social media.
Although your social media plan won’t need to include activity on every platform out there, especially in the beginning, it might still be prudent to register for any you might use in the future, just to make sure you grab the handle before somebody else does.
Setting goals for your social media plan
Once you have your platforms chosen and profiles set up, you should define exactly what you want to achieve on them, and this means setting real, measurable and achievable goals. These goals come in two flavors: interaction on your activity, and the effect it is having on your business in the real world.
While likes, comments and shares are a decent indicator of whether anyone is interested in your efforts, the real point of your social media plan should be bigger than this; growing your business is the real target. Whether this means increased traffic to a blog, more email addresses captured, or more physical sales made, you can only hit your target if you have defined what it is.
What to post
Knowing what to send out is the key to keeping your followers engaged and in attracting new ones. Even on the less-visual platforms such as Twitter, images work well, although there should always be a mixture of post types. Successful social media campaigns may include images, quotes, links back to the related website, videos, or exclusive company information and announcements.
Social media should also be social, and this means not being selfish. As well as posting your own content, sharing other people’s content that you feel your followers will benefit from is an integral part of a respected social media presence. It will mark you out as an authority with your finger on the pulse of the whole industry, while also helping to network with those whose content you are sharing.
When to post
On certain platforms, the timing of your posts is everything. On Pinterest, people may be searching for specific posts regardless of when they were made. On Twitter however it’s all about the now, and people may not look too far back down their feed. This means if they didn’t see your tweet at the time you sent it, they probably never will.
Because of this, posting several times a day and then monitoring the optimal times for interaction from your audience is vital.
Analyze and automate your social media plan
Once you have been posting for a time long enough to have results you can analyze, analyze them. Find out which type of posts have seen the most interaction and which have led to the real world goals that you set being achieved, and concentrate on producing more of those.
Check also for patterns indicating the best performing times for you to send out your content and ensure you always post at these times.
With so many posts going out per day, no successful social media plan is implemented completely manually. By using services like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can automate and schedule your posts while also using their analytics tools to check your performance.
Of course, any interaction you receive on your posts has to be responded to in a personal, human way, and automating your posts allows you the time to do this every day.
A complete social media plan
Beginning with deciding which platforms to use and developing right through to having all of your posts automated, crafting a complete social media plan could mean the difference between firing posts aimlessly out into the ether or having them hit your target audience.