A key, established and cost-effective way to reach prospective customers or clients is through social media. Before social media took off, online marketing was a fairly one way practise. Companies pushed out marketing messages and their customers/consumers passively received them.
Social media enables interactive communication, and today right now there are billions of conversations happening online about brands, products, news etc. It all feels relatively natural to the consumer. Social networking is a big part of how online marketing now operates.
Social media executed well can deliver incredible return on investment (ROI). In their latest study Social Media Examiner found that 90 percent of all marketers indicated social media increased exposure for their businesses. Boosting traffic to their websites was the second major benefit, with 77 percent reporting positive results. Using social media as few as six hours per week led to 66 percent of marketers seeing lead generation benefits. Even those new to using social media found that 64 percent found it useful for building a loyal fan base for their brand.
Here are our 10 key steps to help your marketing team get started on an engaging and effective social media plan:-
1. Understanding the Value
Create new and immediate ways to obtain feedback through social. Get a good sense for what is important and what is not before posting content to increase advocacy and potential for sharing/reviewing/commenting. Aim to be building a ‘community’ from the activity you undertake through social channels.
2. Set Goals
Social media marketing works best when it creates interaction to achieve defined goals. Most often, the primary goal is to boost website traffic or draw attention to a brand. Decide which marketing resources you should devote to tactical programs and which social media platforms you should use. Setting goals also helps measure progress, and helps inform tailoring your approach.
3. Reaching the right people
Understanding what you’re promoting on social media is the easy bit but understanding who you’re selling to and where to find them is more difficult. Reaching the right audience will deliver the best ROI. Define your audience; Build your message for that audience; Research which social channels are best for each of your audience personas.
4. Choose the right social platforms
Decide which social media channels get you connected with your audience (generating the best ROI). Work out where your audience spends its time online by researching the demographics of the many social platforms available. For example, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are quite useful for B2B marketing, while Pinterest and Instagram are better for B2C.
5. Be active – at the right time
One of the worst things you can do is neglect a platform and rarely post. So be consistent and active at the right time of day to get the right result. This guide gives you advice on the right time of day to be active in social media channels. Remember tools like Hootsuite enable you to schedule posts. for multiple social channels.
6. Create a local presence
It’s essential for your company to be represented in local online search engine results. For SME sized businesses it can make or break your ability to build momentum in your local area. And for larger companies it draws attention to your regional offices and help you establish credibility and trust. So make sure your posts engage the local community. Consider location based imagery and hash tags.
7. Create a content plan/calendar
Don’t just blast out random posts/tweets. Consider carefully a content plan and align this to the other marketing activity, promotions/offers and launches you may be making. Ensure there is a healthy mix in your content plan to allow for posts which react to latest trends, industry news etc as well.
8. Prioritise using images
Photos are often the most important ingredient of good social content and increase potential for sharing and brand advocacy. But make sure the images are good quality and not copyrighted elsewhere!
9. Build up a community
Build a following through social media engage with your community. Communities are based on good relationships between brands and people/customers. With a good healthy community you can maintain positive relationships with consumers. Demonstrate that you care about their experiences with your brand.
10. Measure, optimise, measure and optimise some more!
Optimisation is vital. Don’t expect to just post and get superb results! Test approaches, match content to your audience and see what works best. Monitor using platforms like Hootsuite or Sprout. Treat your social media activity like any other marketing campaign tweaking and testing as you go.
Follow these 10 basic principles for running an effective social media marketing campaign and remember to stay consistent with your posting habits , keep active across all your channels and discover as much as you can about what content your target audience interacts with the most.
For more tips on using social media, check out Sprout Social’s guide to Using Social Media for Small Business.
Plus Two can help brands build social media communities. Find out here how we helped GB Olympic Heptathlete Louise Hazel build her social media community of followers and drive traffic to her online fitness programme.