• 3 Steps to Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

Many small business owners are scrambling to find time to market their business on a multitude of social media networks with little or no results to show for their time and effort.  In a survey of small business owners, 61% reported that they haven’t seen any return on their investment in social media activities. Yet half of those business owners surveyed increased their time working on the social media side of their business.[1] While networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest each offer a unique set of benefits, engaging your audience across multiple platforms won’t necessarily drive results for your business.

Be strategic about where you spend your resources. Rather than misallocating your time across multiple networks, focus on finding the networks that complement your business’s needs to tap into the potential benefits each platform has to offer. To optimize what social media networks can do for your business, we’ve outlined 3 steps to guide your decision on picking the network that will work for your business.

1. Seek out your target audience

Who is your target audience? Where are they most likely spending their time? You know your market the best but research the audiences of the social media networks. In order to effectively grow your business, you need to market your business to your customers. Know who they are and how they access media. Look at the key demographics such as gender and location of the users and gain a general understanding of what each network is used for.

Check out which platforms your competitors have successfully engaged with their audience on. A simple Google keyword search can help you see which social media network your market is most active on. For example, try search terms like “motorcycle shops + Facebook”, or “motorcycles + Pinterest”. Even if your business caters to a niche market, you’ll be surprised at the broad spectrum of users who are on social media networks. As a starting point, here’s a brief overview of the four social media networks.

Facebook: A total of 1.06 billion users worldwide with 40-49 year olds making up 36% of users.  The platform covers a diverse range of users and gives you a wide scope of ways to engage with fans (i.e. receive feedback, host events, share news).

Twitter: The fastest growing group of users on Twitter is 18 to 24 year olds. Twitter has half of the audience Facebook has with higher engagement with urban residents than their rural counterparts. It’s most effectively used for instant, and brief conversations and for updating your followers in real time with news updates about your business. Learn how to tag someone on Twitter to engage them directly.

LinkedIn: With 200 million users, LinkedIn is the largest professional network. Good for showcasing your industry expertise, connecting with professionals and for business-to-business interactions.

Pinterest: The ratio of women to men on the network is 5:1. It’s a platform used for sharing aspirational pictures. Categories that generate the most engagement are “Food & Drinks”, along with “DIY & Crafts” and “Home Décor”. Use these Pinterest marketing tips to reach your audience on Pinterest if your audience craves a visual brand.

See our guide “Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Pinterest, What will Work for Your Business” for more information on the strengths and weaknesses of the four platforms.

2. Define your objective on social media

Are you trying to grow your audience, spread word of mouth, or engage with your current customers on social media? Perform an audit of your business: start with identifying gaps in your current marketing plans. Do you need to:

-Grow your base?
-Improve your customer service and build customer loyalty?
-Create a channel for customer feedback?
-Update your customers on new products, services, or deals?
Increase traffic to your website?
-Conduct informal market research?

Initially, rather than defining your goals in terms of the number of fans or followers you want to reach, think about which platforms will help you increase engagement with your audience. The number of followers you have are simply vanity metrics that aren’t indicators of business success. It’s important to keep in mind that with social media, a larger audience doesn’t necessarily convert to real results for your business, while a highly engaged audience (despite its size) will. Align the objectives of your social media marketing plan with the platform that will complement your goals.

3. Resources and skills

What types of resources and skill are needed to execute a successful social media marketing plan for the different types of networks? We already know now that each platform is unique to how you can engage your audience, but each platform also complements different sets of skills and require different resources to execute. It’s not only important to align the needs of your business with the right social network, but it’s also vital that you have the skill set and resources to effectively use it. There are also a number of free marketing tools online to help you create content that’s optimized for each type of social media network. Think about what your strengths are and research what type resources or skills are involved to be successful on each network.

Adopting a plan for your social media marketing is vital to saving you time and resources in the long run. To make an informed and results driven decision, check out our free eBook, “Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Pinterest, what will work for your business?”

Image Credit: Webking