Social Media: Getting Down To Business [Research]
Marketers are increasing their social media budgets. Specifically, they plan to allocate 7.4% of their overall marketing budgets to social media in 2012 and expect this amount to increase to 19.5% by 2017, according to a Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business poll of CMOs taken in February. This is a sign that social media continues to mature. As it does so, it’s time for marketers to start using social media as a key marketing tool.
Here are seven steps to create an effective social media marketing plan every marketer can use.
- Determine your business goals for your social media efforts. At a top level, most businesses focus on building awareness, raising brand visibility, acquiring new prospects, increasing sales, and retaining existing customers. Depending on your business focus and the complexity of your sales process, your social media objectives may be more granular.
- Define your target audience. While “Know Your Customer” is part of every marketing campaign, on social media you must take this further to understand your primary and secondary market’s activities and use of social media. Expand your marketing persona to include the social media platforms they’d use. How do they use social media when they’re in shopping mode? Is it just for input or is it broader in terms of influence and additional information?
- Select your social media networks. Social media requires time and engagement on the part of marketers. Decide on which social media networks you’ll focus your efforts. Spend time exploring these platforms to understand each one’s nuances to ensure your approach resonates in that environment.
- Extend your brand. Branding is integral to every communications media and social media is no different. For many businesses, social media requires going beyond their established brand guidelines to incorporate a 360 degree presentation of their brand. (Here’s help with branding on social media platforms.)
- Develop appropriate content marketing. Don’t just crank out the same information you do for other platforms. Assess the type of information that participants seek and other marketers supply, especially your direct and indirect competitors. In particular, determine your audience’s content needs on these platforms. How is this content different from other content you produce? Further, decide where you’re going to incorporate links to your offering. Remember that this has to be a non-promotional, soft sell.
- Promote your social media presence. As with any other form of marketing, you can’t assume the public will just show up. Bear in mind that your prospects are on social media to socialize with their family, friends and colleagues, not you! Therefore it’s critical that you create a promotional plan to persuade your target audience to visit your social media presence. For many businesses, this translates into offering some form of enticement such as a discount or other freebie. (Here’s some useful research about the value of a Facebook like.)
- Measure results. To track the effectiveness of your social media marketing plan, you must establish metrics that are associated with your business objectives. These must be determined before you start to ensure that you’ve incorporated the means to monitor results into your marketing and that your analytics can capture this information. Otherwise, you’re left analyzing whatever’s available which can underestimate your results because it will only capture the last marketing used. (Here’s an article on social media metrics to help get you on track.)
As social media continues to mature and more businesses gain experience using these platforms, it’s critical to ensure your efforts are strategically aligned with your business’ goals. To this end, you must develop an effective social media marketing plan and integrate it with the rest of your marketing efforts.
What factors have you found to be critical as your social media marketing experience has grown? What stumbling blocks have you encountered?
Here are some related social media marketing articles you may find of interest.
- 50 Questions to determine social media succes
- The One Social Media Metric You Need
- How to make your brand stand out
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hawee/3528754669/