First off, though it seems extremely complicated, it really isn't. All this newfangled marketing is just that -- marketing. Marketing basics are still there. Just the media has changed. How you reach your target market has changed. How ads and promotional content is delivered has changed.
One of the many mistakes today's small business owner makes is thinking that doing an occasional Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn post will be sufficient -- NOT! It doesn't work that way. If you bypass crucial planning and research steps, your efforts will be wasted.
There are 11 steps to Successful Social Media Marketing:
- Clearly Define Your Target Market(s): This is marketing 101. Who is your perfect customer? Are you B2B (Business-to-Business) or B2C (Business-to-Consumer) or both? This free workbook will help you describe your target market(s) -- and you can have more than one!
- Create Personas: Based on your answers to the questions in the workbook, make up "personas" for each target like these for a client who sells parenting classes...
Frustrated Fran: 36, a single mom with a 9 y/o son with anger issues. She works in a corporate position, she’s a college grad and struggles with controlling her son’s behavior. The son is with a nanny until mom gets home on school days. She feels guilty that she can’t spend more time with him. He’s currently in therapy, but Fran doesn’t see any progress. Her ex-husband is barely in the pictures and just has the boy a few times a month and for 2 weeks in the summer.
Determined Dan: 38, stay-at-home dad with 3 kids, ages 3, 8 and 12. Besides his Mr. Mom role, he has a home-based business. Wife is a corporate lawyer with a demanding schedule. He was laid off in 2008 and decided to stay home with the kids. Dan is determined to raise healthy kids and manage his business at the same time. He doesn’t know it, but the 12 y/o is sneaking around, taking advantage of times when dad is busy with the younger kids and work.
- Research your Target Market(s): Once you know who your target is, you need to do a little research to learn as much as you can about them.
- Which social networks do they prefer?
- How do they access them -- mobile or desktop?
- What's the best marketing message to reach them -- especially the different generations?
- What type of content do they prefer -- video, blogs, visuals?
- Who is your main competition?
- What keywords or phrases are they going to enter into the search box to find you?
- Set SMART Goals for your Business and Marketing: They must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
- Develop a Strategic Plan to meet your Goals: Take your goals, your research, target market personas and put together a strategic marketing plan with details on how you're going to reach your target and meet your goals. Get as specific as possible. Furthermore, brainstorm with staff, partners, colleagues and experts. Write it all down in a document. It is not set in stone! This will change every month!
- Content -- what type and how often are you going to publish?
- What are other trusted sources of quality, relevant content to share with your target audience?
- Which social networks, what are you going to post and how often.
- Put Together a Tactical Plan to Implement your Strategy: This simply becomes your to-do list. Set aside time to blog or create videos. Set up tools like Buffer and HootSuite to help you share content easier and save time.
- Learn how SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing all Work Together:
You also have to learn how to use the tools. Just like learning any software program, it takes time at first. However, the more you use them, the easier it is to maneuver around the program and the less time it will take you. For instance, it may take you 2-3 hours to create a blog post and publish it. After doing that 2-5 times a week for the first month, you should get that done to 1 hour.
- Create and Curate Content, build a Social Media Following: Just do it! Get on the networks! Follow your target market, connect with them, greet them, ask them questions. Yes, it takes time to build a following, but when done organically (not-paid), you get genuine people who are interested in what you are posting.
- Have clear Calls-to-Actions to convert Visitors into Quality Leads: It has to be enticing enough so your target will want to give you their name and email address to get it. Put it in several places around your website so visitors won't miss it. Also, have an exclusive landing page for the offer so that people are not distracted with other navigation. That's the link that you share on social media calls-to-action.
- Set up Marketing Automation to nurture leads into sales: Once you've got their email address, don't let them fall through the cracks. Now, you've got to nurture them into a sale! That can be done with a series of emails or a regular newsletter with excerpts of your blog articles.
- Monitor and Measure your Digital Marketing Efforts: Check your website analytics and social media marketing insights every month to see what’s working and not working. Then, plan accordingly for the next month. You may have to adjust both your strategic and tactical plans for the next month. Moreover, take into consideration any holidays and seasons that will be trending. (Check out my "What's Trending" articles that I post at the end of each month with observance days that trend on social media.)
Yes, it may seem daunting -- and in many cases, it is. Nevertheless, you have to do it. For some people, it may take them longer to grasp how all this works. Some folks pick it up right way and only need a little direction. I had another client who only took part of my advice and was missing out on a lot of potential business on Instagram and YouTube by just focusing on Facebook.
Each business is different. Target markets differ. There is no one-size-fits-all social media marketing package. What works for an ecommerce business is totally different that what works for a local brick-and-mortar.
You also may be in a highly competitive field. In that case, how are you going to stand out? Or you may have very little competition -- but, you can't afford to become complacent.
Follow the steps outlined above and you should, with a little time, effort and sweat equity, have a successful social media marketing experience.