Monday, 10 October 2011

Social Media Marketing . . . Where Failure To Plan Is Most Definitely Planning To Fail . . .

What do you think is the single biggest mistake businesses make when engaging in social media marketing?

Undoubtedly, it’s a failure to plan. And this ‘lack of planning’ affects businesses of all sizes; from the rawest of start-ups, to the biggest of empires.

So why does this happen? After all, you wouldn’t embark on any new business venture without a solid business plan to hand (I trust).

Possibly because the vast majority of social media is, in effect, a free tool, business owners think social media is something they can dip in and out of.

Huge mistake.

Because the real key to successful social media marketing is having a solid plan you can work through week-on-week, month-on-month, year-on-year.

The stark reality is that the average person on Facebook has 130 connections and belongs to 50-60 online groups. So to really influence audiences on social media sites you will need to break through this already established network.

The only way to do that properly is to devise a social media strategy that’s right for your business.

Here are some proven tips to help you get started:

Define your target audience

Be as specific as possible about who you want to connect with: What is their gender? Age group? Earnings? Hobbies? Relationship status? Build up a picture of your ideal customer – the more detail the better.

The worst case scenario is that you will try to reach everybody, in which case your marketing message will be too bland to make an impact and you will end up reaching no-one.

Decide on the right social media networks for your business

Where does your target audience hang out? LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Create a clear outline of who you want to reach and then determine which of the social media platforms can best help you achieve your goals. Make sure the type of content you intend posting suits the medium you are posting to.

Listen to what your target audience is saying

What is your target audience interested in? What do they talk about online? What worries them? What kind of role might your product or service play in their lives? By listening to discussion groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc, you will gain valuable insights into your potential customers’ lives, which you can then translate into a meaningful action plan.

Call them to action

What do you want to achieve? What are your goals? Once you know what your primary purpose is – what you want to achieve – create a ‘call to action’ that will back up that goal. It could be as simple as asking people to sign up for your newsletter, or phone for a free consultation.

Create a content planner

This is one of the most important, but often overlooked, components of your social media marketing plan. What sort of subjects will you write about? What are the kinds of things that will engage and inspire your target audience? Create a content plan in advance of starting your campaign and you’ll be surprised how much better received your postings are.

Track and measure your success

Tracking your social media marketing campaign in detail will show you what is and what isn’t working as well as proving your ROI. It will also help you identify the best use of your resources such as time and money. Be prepared to refine/ adjust your content in order to achieve the optimum response levels.

Social media is a cheap and easy way to win more fans for your business. The fact that the tools are (mainly) free can create a problem for business owners who are new to social media marketing.

Begin with a well-defined strategy and you won’t go far wrong. In fact, you’ll be streets ahead of those companies who view social media as something you can opt in and out of whenever you feel like it.

You really can’t.

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