If you're like many business owners, you're currently using social media with no formal management plan in place.
You're most definitely not alone - most people have been winging it for years when it comes to using social media for business.
But winging it has never been a good strategy. It's simply not realistic to expect that random posting on social media will produce results, much less the results you want.
Having a defined social media management plan will enable you to:
- Be more efficient with your time and efforts
- Generate significantly better results (more traffic, leads and sales)
- Be able to measure and quantify those results, helping you further improve your marketing efforts
But of course, if you're a small business, your resources - both time and money - are limited. That means you also don’t want a complicated strategy which takes forever to understand, let alone enact.
The great thing is, that's likely not necessary - while you do need to have a plan in order to maximize efficiency with your social media efforts, it doesn't need to be overly intricate.
In fact, the simpler and more concise the plan, the better.
To create an effective social media plan, you need to answer the following questions:
- What business goals do you hope to achieve using social media?
- Who are your ideal clients, and what social platforms do they use?
- What metrics will you use to measure your success?
- Are you creating content, curating content, or both?
- How much time can you allot to your social activities every day/week?
- What social media activities will give you the quickest wins?
By formulating a simple plan, which addresses each of these points, you'll be well on your way to building a social media community that'll foster your success, and help you achieve your goals.
Here's a more in-depth break down of each of these points, and what they might look like as part of a simple social media management plan.
1. How will you use social media to achieve your goals?
Before you begin developing a social media management plan, you need to know what you ultimately want to accomplish with social media.
Social media is no different than any other business or marketing tool. Before you acquire and begin using any tool for your business, you first need to be clear on what you want to achieve with it.
Start by determining what your overall business goals are.
If you have a business plan, go through your goals and objectives, determining which goals social media marketing can help you achieve.
If you don’t have a business plan, think about what goals you would like to achieve for your business. Goals that social media can help you achieve include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Establishing your authority on your topic
- Building a loyal community
- Attracting more leads and prospects
- Building relationships with new customers
- Maintaining and improving relationships with existing customers
- Improving customer service
- Increasing revenue
If you're just starting out, pick three top line goals to start with. Also keep in mind if you don't have a large social media presence currently, you may want to start with the first three items listed above so that people begin to know, like and trust you.
2. Who are your ideal clients, and where will you find them?
The second section of your plan should focus on understanding who your ideal clients are.
To start, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your ideal client specifically?
- What titles or positions do they hold?
- What is the typical language of their business, industry or organization?
- What kinds of problems/challenges do they face?
Once you've identified what goals you want to achieve with social media, and who you ideal clients are, you need to examine each of the available social media platforms to determine the following:
- Which platforms your ideal clients are using?
- Which business goals each platform can help you accomplish?
- Which social media platforms will best reach your ideal clients?
If a platform isn't used by your ideal clients, and won't help you achieve your business goals, you should not invest time, effort or money into it.
For example, if you're a high-performance business coach who focuses on executives and business leaders, spending hours on Facebook might be a complete waste of your time and energy. LinkedIn, on the other hand, can be a fantastic place to locate and build relationships with executives and business leaders.
3. How are you measuring success on social media?
After you determine which social media platforms are the best to reach out and build relationships with your ideal clients on, you then need to list the goals you want to achieve for each platform.
For example, on LinkedIn, you might want to:
- Generate three new leads per month
- Build your authority on your subject matter
After you determine your specific goal(s) for each platform, you then also need to define how you'll measure your results for each.
If, for example, your goal is to generate three new leads a month on LinkedIn, you simply track the number of new leads you get each month.
A goal with a less obvious metric, however, takes a bit more work. For example, if you're aiming to build your authority on your subject matter on LinkedIn, you might look at metrics such as the number of likes, shares and comments your content is receiving, and the number of new connection requests you receive after posting thought leadership content.
Here are a few examples of the different types of sales-related social media metrics you can track:
- Number of leads generated from social media activities
- Number of appointments booked
- Value of your sales pipeline generated from social media activities
- Contract value of deals made from social media
- Revenue generated from social media activities
Branding metrics, which are not revenue-focused but provide insights into your success with non-revenue related goals, include:
- Number of views for posts or shared content
- Engagement with shared content (likes, comments, shares, etc.)
- Visits to your website coming from social media
- Follower or network size (connections, followers, page likes)
4. What are you sharing on your social platforms?
If you use social media for business, you need to leverage content marketing - whether you are sharing content you created, content you curated (found), or a mix of both.
If you're just starting, or don’t feel confident creating your own content, content curation is the way to go.
Sharing others’ content can help you:
- Build credibility and trust
- Position yourself as an authority in your field
- Maintain top-of-mind awareness with your network
- Build and grow your sales pipeline
But there are right and wrong ways to curate others’ content. Keep these content curation best practices in mind in your process:
- Add your own perspective - Don’t just share existing content as it is, add your insights based on the curated content.
- Engage with your audience - Ask questions, respond to comments and engage with those who are engaging with you.
- Have a CTA (call to action) - Sharing curated content without a CTA is a missed opportunity to get your audience to take a particular action. Your CTA might be as simple as asking your readers to comment on, share or like a post.
5. How much time do you have for social media activities each week?
Every business is different, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to how often you should be posting on each social channel, or how much time, in general, you should devote to your social media activities.
What is important is that whatever frequency or amount of time you choose to devote to your social media plan, you need to do it consistently. Consistency produces results. Also keep in mind that the more aggressive your sales goals are, the more time you need to invest in your marketing and lead generation efforts to produce the results you want.
It's also really important to remember that, regardless of how much time you invest daily or weekly, it takes time to build your social community, and to see results from your efforts.
Building relationships online is no different from building relationships offline - it takes time, effort and consistency.
Save time by scheduling posts
You can pre-schedule your posts on most social platforms, and scheduling all your posts once a week is a great way to save time and increase efficiency.
This will provide you with extra time to focus on what matters: the engagement.
6. Where should you start?
Once you create a document outlining your social media management strategy, pick one goal to start working on first.
This should be one of your simplest goals, something you can see relatively quick results with.
This is important, as achieving quick wins early on can help you build momentum and develop the consistency, in order to be successful with your other goals.
Don’t delay creating and implementing your social media management plan
Today’s modern buyer is digitally connected, and expects the businesses they do business with to have an online presence.
If you want to thrive in this landscape, you need to have a social presence on the platforms your ideal clients use. Having a social media management plan in place, even a simple one, will help you maximize your results with social media, while minimizing the time and resources it takes to accomplish them.
A version of this post was first published on the Top Dog Social Media blog.