Creating an Actual Social Media Marketing Strategy
Letâ€™s get right to the point. Posting occasionally on your Twitter account or writing blogs for the sake doing so doesnâ€™t constitute a social media marketing strategy. And thatâ€™s why I believe so many people turn sour on the idea of social media marketing; they donâ€™t have a strategy in place when they start a social media campaign. As a result, they make no headway with their social media marketing.
Think about it. You create detailed goals and strategies for every other facet of your marketing campaign. If you send out direct mail sales letters, you identify your target audience, create a targeted list, write a call to action to achieve a certain response, and measure the results.
Doesnâ€™t it just make sense to do the same type of strategizing for your social media campaign?
Start with the Goals
Before you can create a strategy, you need to identify what you want to accomplish with social media marketing. Here are some common goals to give you an idea of what Iâ€™m talking about.
- Increase brand awareness
- Build authority
- Learn more about your target audience
- Gain inbound links
- Educate and inform customers
- Improve customer service
- Monitor brand reputation
This list could go on forever, but youâ€™ve got the idea. Donâ€™t start your social media campaign until youâ€™ve clearly established and made a written record of these goals.
Create a Strategy Based on Research
Again, blindly jumping into social media is a terrible mistake that can create major setbacks. You need to spend time doing detailed research and creating solid strategies that will enable you to reach your goals.
The research process includes:
- Determining if your target audience is online
- Figuring out where they are
- Examining the successes and failures of other social media campaigns
- Creating realistic timelines
- Establishing a method for tracking results
Once youâ€™ve done all this research, you can start building the actual path (strategy) for reaching your goals.
- Building Relationships– At the end of the day, social media is all about building relationships. Whether your goal is to simply increase brand awareness or to gain inbound links for your website, you have to build relationships to do it. This means you donâ€™t just show up on the social network of your choice blasting your marketing message. Thatâ€™s not going to get the job done. In fact, itâ€™s going to make everyone hate you. You have to treat social media users just like you would people in real life. Get to know them. Interact without promoting. Help each other out. Only then can you start to achieve your goals.
- Creating a Schedule– Remember what I said at the beginning of this post? Tweeting, blogging, or posting on forums haphazardly isnâ€™t a social media strategy. You need to set up an actual schedule. Not only will this help you stay committed and on task, but creating a social media schedule also improves your campaignâ€™s efficiency. Youâ€™ll no longer be wasting time getting on sporadically and making up your strategy as you go.
- Staying the Course– Too many times, companies view social media as a quick fix. The reality is social media is a marathon not a sprint. Remember, itâ€™s about building relationships. This requires constant connections over a long period of time, just like any other relationship. You canâ€™t expect to gain valuable insight, increase brand awareness, or build relationships with people who will help promote your content in a matter of days. It takes months. Years even. Stick with it!
- Measuring the Results– How you measure success depends on which goals youâ€™re trying to achieve. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness and to maintain a positive reputation, you can track results by using conversation discovery techniques. Whether this is setting up Google Alerts for any time your brand is mentioned or paying a company to do it for you, the point is that you need to have a strategy for monitoring your results. By taking the guesswork out of your social media monitoring, you can see exactly how your campaign is performing.
- Making the Right Tweaks– Now that you have a strategy in place for monitoring your progress toward your goals, itâ€™s time to start tweaking your campaign for maximum efficiency. For instance, if your goal is building links and you see you arenâ€™t gaining any back links, you might need to alter the style of your content. Or perhaps you need to promote it differently (maybe youâ€™re promoting it on the wrong social media sites.) The point is if your strategy just isnâ€™t working (assuming youâ€™ve given it time to work,) you need to make some changes. No one achieves perfection on their first try. It requires constant fine-tuning.
What are your social media goals? What strategies do you use to achieve them? Share them with us in the replies!
About Eric Brantner
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @Eric_Brantner.