Are you trying to market your products and services with social media because you think you are “supposed to”? You’re not alone. And you are probably feeling very frustrated because you aren’t seeing results.
Let’s change that now…
Here are 7 Steps to Creating an Effective Social Media Strategy
1. Your Company Plan
Before you dive into Social Media, take a look at your company business plan. If you don’t have one already, then create it now. Before you go any further.
Don’t let this step overwhelm you. It doesn’t need to be a traditional business plan that focuses on getting venture capital funding, rather your goal is bring clarity to you and your team. Use the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) Principle here. Include:
- Your mission and history
- Your business model
- Your target market
- Descriptions of your products and services
- Outline your current marketing efforts
Now you know where your are so let’s think about where you want to go.
2. Create a Detailed Persona of Your Ideal Client
How old are they? Male or Female? Income? Location? Get as detailed as possible. Find a picture that represents her. Give her a name. Is your ideal client in her 50s? Then she was born in the late 50’s or early 60’s. A popular name back then was Sandy (I should know!). If your ideal client is male and in his 20’s then maybe his name is Justin?
If you are thinking, “This is really ridiculous!”, then I invite you to suspend judgement for a few minutes and give it a try. Outline everything you can about your ideal client: What are his hobbies? What is her income? Is he a father? Does she have a Special Needs Child? Is she fashion conscious? Does he love fast cars? Give this some thought and as we move forward you’ll see just how helpful this “ideal client profile” can be.
3. Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest – Oh MY!
In my experience, clients who are trying to be everywhere (on the internet) all the time, end up nowhere. In spite of what the Social Media Marketing “experts” tell you, not only is it not necessary to be everywhere all the time, it’s a recipe for failure. Pick two, maybe three platforms and focus your efforts.
So, just how do you know where to best spend your time? Here’s where you pull out that ideal client persona you created in Step 2. Where does she hang out? Let’s say she’s a Stay-At-Home Mom of a Special Needs Child. I bet she’s on Facebook and maybe Pinterest. I doubt she’s on LinkedIn.
Or perhaps your ideal client is a Special Needs Professional. Maybe an attorney specializing in Special Needs Trusts and Conservatorships? LinkedIn is where you want to be and probably Twitter too. Yes, your ideal client is probably marketing on Facebook but that is where she is looking for clients. On LinkedIn she is focusing on making professional connections.
Be careful when using small, niche forums for marketing. Many people are there to support each other and don’t want to be sold to. Check the forum Terms of Service (TOS) carefully. If you still think it might be a good place to market, then “lurk and listen” for awhile. Once you get to know the personality and preferences of the group, then you can jump in.
And don’t forget YouTube. If you have information that can be demonstrated via video or you like public speaking better than writing (some people do, really!) then consider integrating YouTube into your plan. By the way, it is the second largest search engine. Considering that it is owned by Google, there’s excellent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) opportunity there!
Which brings us to Google+. Consider using Google+ even if your market isn’t there. Your market probably is using Google to search. Expect Google+ usage to become increasingly important in Google Search Engine Rankings. Go figure.
4. Define Specific Goals and Measure Your Effectiveness
Define Specific Goals:
For example: Don’t just say you want more Facebook likes. Social Media is about engagement and you want to engage with your target market. Who are they? Think about how you want to use Social Media to reach them. 100 followers who are in your target market are much more powerful than 1000 who are not. We’ll talk about how to find your target market in the next step.
Focus on driving traffic from the Social Media platform to your site, not the other way around. Create goals to support that. So, you might set a goal to drive 100 new visitors to your site from Facebook per month. This would support a goal of increasing new visitors to your site by 25% per month.
Measure Your Effectiveness:
Keeping your goals in mind, analyze your efforts. Go beyond “vanity metrics” such as number of followers or likes. Look at the number of retweets and shares – and who did the retweeting and sharing. Are they reaching your target market? Measure the volume of traffic back to your site and conversion rates for opt-ins and sales. Your Social Media Marketing focus should be completely on driving traffic to your site and your Social Media ROI (Return On Investment) should be measured completely by conversions. If 100 new Facebook Likes from your target market support an increase of 25% in sales but 1000 Twitter followers who aren’t in your market don’t buy, what does that tell you?
So, let’s say you determine that your target market is on Facebook. Help them find you by reaching out and engaging on complementary pages. A complementary page is one that shares at least a segment of your target market but is not in direct competition with you.
For example, if you are a Nutritionist specializing in helping Kids with Autism. Look for pages by other Special Needs Service Providers. Parents following Special Education Advisor might be interested in what you have to share. Like these pages (from your page) and then monitor them in your Newsfeed. Engage by making thoughtful comments but don’t promote yourself directly.
This will help you gain attention of new potential customers.
6. Content and Delivery
OK, you’ve got your goals and you know who and where your ideal clients are. Now what do you say to them and when should you say it? Here is how I do it for my sites and for most of my clients:
Content Curation – Share interesting and helpful information from complementary (not competitive) resources. What interests your audience? What do they want to talk about? What are they searching for?
- If Facebook is one of your platforms, share posts from complementary pages on your page. Not only will this help your community but it will also get you noticed by the Page Admin. who just might become an evangelist for your content, product or services.
Set up Google Alerts for appropriate keywords. Use Google Reader to monitor them or have alerts sent to your email. Choose 1 – 2 articles a day to share with your community. Plus it up by adding your own comments, insights and suggestions.
Promote Your Site – Once a day post something to directly drive traffic to your site. Don’t send them to your home page, at least not every time. Send traffic to your landing pages. For example, I periodically post, “You work on your business, I’ll work in it” and link to my Virtual Assistance Services landing page: http://www.eprovirtualassistance.com/services/#2
Let your old posts see the sun. Once a day post a link to an article from your archives. Newer readers haven’t seen them and older readers may have forgotten them.
Be sure to post more helpful information and resources than promotional stuff. I find that posting a couple of resources from my Google Alerts a day, one promotional post and one article from my archives is a good mix for most Social Media sites.
Build your brand personality; be likeable so people want to spread the word about you. This won’t happen overnight and will continue to evolve as you go.
Be sure to speak with your target audience, not at them. Your focus should be on them, not you, your company or products/services. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and become their Trusted Advisor. Engage users by sharing direct, relevant and targeted information and resources.
Create buzz about your services. Social Media offers an excellent opportunity to create brand awareness that leads to community engagement which converts leads into prospects and prospects into customers and clients.
Now get out there and socialize!
Social Media, strategically used over time is the most powerful form of marketing and market research. It’s all about using new tools communicate on the Internet. Marketing and sales principles haven’t changed, we have just moved from face-to-face to the Internet. You need to know how to adapt the age-old principles to the new communication platform.
Remember, this is a marketing activity. And it’s just part of what you do. It’s no good marketing your company’s products/services if your infrastructure is falling apart and your products haven’t been updated since the printing press was invented. Then again, if you don’t tell anyone how you can help them, then they can’t buy. And their lives are not enriched and neither is yours.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to share them in the comments.
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