By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

You know you need to be using social media to promote your business, but you don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming, but you have to do it, or get left behind by your savvier competitors.

It’s not Rocket Science

It’s rather easy if you take it one step at a time and learn how to do it properly from the beginning.

Here are 10 steps to help you create a cohesive, comprehensive, social media marketing plan. It’s going to take a little “sweat equity” on your part, but you have to realize that it’s your business, your name and your reputation that’s at stake if you don’t do it right the first time.

  1. Analyze what you’re currently doing with any online marketing like your website, any traditional marketing like print ads or direct mail; email marketing, special events, telemarketing. What’s working for you? How are your clients finding you? Hopefully you have some sort of analytics set-up with your website, like Google Analytics, so you can see how your visitors found you. Or you’ve kept track of how current customers found you.
  2. Picture your perfect customer. Who are they? Male or female? Age? Married or single? What are they wearing? What do they do for a living? Do they have kids? If so, how old are they? What are their interests, likes and dislikes? And most importantly, what are their pain points and how can you, your product or service relieve them?
  3. Research. Now it’s time to do a little digging. Where does your target market hang out online? Which networks do they use? Who are your competitors and what are they doing in social media? How many followers do they have on Twitter? How many likes on their Facebook pages? In Google+ how many in their circles and how many have them in circles? What have they been posting? See how many retweets, likes,+1s and shares each post has. Which ones get the most action? Who are the experts and influencers in your field or industry? Find them and start following them on the social networks. Subscribe to their blogs. Write it all down or use a spreadsheet to compile the data.
  4. Now that you have all your data, it’s time for a Strategic Plan. Go over the data you’ve collected, set goals and strategize on how you’re going to reach your target market. Take into consideration any upcoming holidays, seasons, special events and current events that may affect your plan or give you ideas. Brainstorm with your staff or friends on what might catch a potential client’s attention.
  5. Next, create a Tactical Plan. This is what you’re going to do where and when. Be specific. You need to blog at least three times a week. That gives you content that will drive traffic to your website. Plan out which networks you’re going to focus on (where your target market hangs out the most.) When are you going to do a video? How often will you send out your e-newsletter? Start a spreadsheet and create a content calendar.
  6. Set it all up. If you don’t have a WordPress blog or site, get one. It’s easy to customize, manage and post and there are tons of free plug-ins to help you socialize and optimize it for the search engines (SEO). Set-up your social business pages in Facebook and Google+, set up a YouTube channel, Twitter account and a Pinterest business account. Add share and follow buttons to your website to make it easy for people to share your content and for them to follow you.
  7. Learn how to use each network properly. Each one is different. What works on Twitter doesn’t work on LinkedIn or Facebook and vice a versa. Use Hootsuite and TweetDeck to schedule your messages to post in the future. Managing your social media should only take 30 minutes a day.
  8. Implementation. You’ve got your plan, you know how to use the tools, dive in! Search for your target market in each network and start following them. Share content that you’ve created as well as those from the experts and influencers in your field. Retweet and share other people’s content. Thank them for liking your page, following you or retweeting your tweets. Each time you do, you get noticed. Follow the 10-4-1 Rule: for every 15 posts you share, 10 are other people’s content, 4 are your original content and 1 is a direct sales pitch.
  9. Create, curate and share content and build relationships. Respond to people in a timely manner. It’s a 2-way communication. Give free advice and tips. Get known as an expert in your field.
  10.  Monitor and measure. Keep track of everything. Make sure you’re collecting analytics and site statistics. Check at least once a month to see where your traffic is coming from and adjust accordingly. There are many free tools and paid services available to help you track usage, likes, visits, click-throughs, etc.

Obviously, if you’re just starting your business and don’t have a website yet, you can skip step 1. But existing businesses can’t afford to skip any of these steps, and if you do, you’ll end up wasting your valuable time, effort and money and not get the results you want or need.

Social media is constantly changing so you have to be flexible and adapt accordingly. I like Social Media Today to keep up with social news and get tips. They collect articles from many social media experts and they also have a group on LinkedIn. It’s also important to realize when you need help and not to hesitate to reach out to a SCORE mentor or hire a consultant.


Giselle_2012_smGiselle Aguiar, the AZ Social Media Wiz, is a social media, inbound and content marketing specialist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. She’s been doing Internet Marketing since 1995. She’s the official social media manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE.