How to Create a Simple and Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

three-keys-to-successful-small-business-ownershipWhen a client reaches out to me to for a marketing consult, my first question is always: “What are your current marketing efforts?”

I’m shocked at how often the response is, “Well, we’re on Facebook…”  Though some companies are in multiple outlets and mediums, I’m surprised how often that is the extent of their marketing plan.

Don’t get me wrong, social media CAN be a great way to get eyeballs on your business, but it certainly doesn’t count as a full marketing plan.

It’s critical for small businesses to create a “Web Strategy” that is part of an overall marketing plan.  Though we won’t go into full details on creating a full marketing plan here, I do want to give you an overview on how to make a social media strategy work for you.

As we talk through these options, remember my definition of marketing is:

Marketing is getting the right MESSAGES, through the right MEDIUMS, reaching the right MASSES so you can make MONEY.  Use this definition as a guide as you walk through these steps.

First, define your objectives.  EVERY marketing plan needs to start with some goals.  Not all marketing goals need to have a monetary ending.  Though that is, of course, the ultimate goal.

Good goals could include:

-Increase in page views, visitors or time on your website. (My favorite use of social media.  Get people to YOUR Home Court Advantage and away from the distraction of the social networking site you’re playing in. And it’s easier to sell through your site and email list than through social media outlets.)

-Increase in likes, shares, followers on social media (though watch this one.  This can be only a celebration in visibility but may not always increase sales.)

-Increase in opt-ins/subscribers to your email list.

-Increase in sales from repeat customers.

-Increase in sales during slow seasons/times of day.

-Increase in sales of a specific product or package.

-Increase in month-to-month or year-to-year sales.

EVERY company could benefit from the above objectives in one way or another.

Second, define how you will evaluate the success of your objectives. You need to put numbers on your goals.  When you say, “Increase in page views,” define what a successful increase would be.  20%?  30%?

GET SPECIFIC and you’re more likely to achieve the results you desire.

Third, when it comes to social media, unless you have full time help or are a large business, you don’t have time to make the impact you need in EVERY social media outlet.  It’s important to focus and choose your top one or two outlets that will reach your target market best.  Focus is important because it gives you an opportunity to go deep and be effective, instead of skimming the surface of many.  Tiffany Peterson says, “I would rather have one, one hundred foot deep well; than one hundred, one foot deep wells.”

At Startup Princess, we’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter over the last five years, and our efforts have paid off.  We made that our primary social media community and playground.  We have a loyal following and we make great connections with speakers, guest posters, and the media there.  It’s a great compliment to our website and we drive traffic from twitter to our site.  It has been our highest source of web traffic for years.

I think it’s important to have a PRESENCE in multiple outlets, but be clear where you’re playing, and invite people to join you there.

As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats.  If that time is spent in social media all day, you won’t get done the things that you need to.  That’s why focus is key.

How do you decide which ones?  Ask yourself the following question:

Where is my target market “playing” the most?  If you’re in the craft/hobby/fashion/travel business, you should be on Pinterest.  If you’re in the business-to-business market, you need to be in LinkedIn and Google+.  Sure, lots of people are on Facebook, but Facebook makes it harder and harder for businesses to get the exposure they want.  If you decide that Facebook is it, keep up with the changes.

Fourth, EVALUATE, EVALUATE, EVALUATE.  With social media (or ANY aspect of your marketing plan).  Take time each week and each month to review your efforts and track your results.  Here are some good questions to ask of your social media strategy.

What posts/messages got the greatest response (likes, shares, retweets, etc.)?

What times of day were people the most engaged in your messages/posts?

What outlets convert the best to web traffic?

What outlets/messages convert the best to email opt-ins?

What messages generated the most sales?

The bottom line is this: start with clear objectives and track your efforts so you can improve as you go.  Lots of companies are having great success with social media, but it’s not because they are blindly throwing things out there. It’s because they have tested and tried the right messages and timing and they know what works.

Beware, though, trends change.  If what worked last year isn’t working this year, it’s time to start with a clean slate and try some new things.  Try different messages and different times of day, and maybe consider a new social media outlet all together.

Also, one final note.  It would be remiss if I didn’t share with you this last thought.  Remember that social media is for seeding and serving, NOT sales.  Use social media to build connections, plant seeds of your products and services and provide information on your industry, trends and company.  Sell through other means like phone calls, through your site, emails, etc.  Use social media to brand and get eyeballs and supplement your marketing plan with other strategies to convert your social shares to sales.

Share with us!  What social media outlets are working for your business?

Originally Published on on May 29, 2013


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