How To Drink From The Social Media Fire Hose

5 Step Business Social Media Marketing Plan

5 Step Business Social Media Plan“I feel like I’m drinking from the social media fire hose.” 

Do you feel this way?

You’re NOT alone.

I heard this sentiment over and over from social media managers at Social Media Marketing World 2016. (BTW, I hear this refrain a lot.) 

It’s often followed by: “How can I implement social media effectively for my business?”

You need a business social media marketing plan.

Not just any plan or set of social media tactics.

Rather your business social media marketing plan must be documented and integrated with the rest of your content, search and other marketing.

Otherwise it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Take a deep breath and read on.

We’ve got you covered.

5 Step business social media marketing plan

Many marketers approach social media by establishing their business on Facebook or other platform. That may have worked in the past but it doesn’t work now.

An effective business social media marketing plan doesn’t start on a social media platform.

Rather it first looks inside your organization.5 Step Business Social Media Plan


1. Be clear about your business objectives on social media

Determine what you want to be known for on social media. Your social media business goals must relate to your company mission.

Aim your business goals high. Go beyond profits, especially if you target millennials. They prefer to purchase from socially aware businesses.

Follow Chris Brogan’s 3 word approach. Select 3 words to represent your business goals. This method’s beauty is its simplicity. Apply that approach to these key questions:

  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What’s in it for your audience?

Transform your 3 word answers into your social media mission statement.

Don’t be a me-too business. Find a niche that’s not taken and stand out from competitors and close substitutes. Don’t be limited to businesses doing the same thing or in the same market. Examine major players across the market.

Make your focus more targeted so your business stands out. Pick a specific type of social media or location that amplifies your message.

Be laser-focused. Think beyond social media. Include:

  • Foundational content
  • Search keyword phrases
  • Social media interactions

REMEMBER: Without a targeted focus, your social media interactions are random noise. They won’t build brand awareness or audience.


2. Walk in your social media audience’s shoes

Without empathy for your audience, your social media marketing will fall flat.

You’ve heard this before. But let’s pretend you’re hearing it for the first time.

Start by really knowing your social media audience. Include potential buyers, purchase influencers, end users, past customers, dissatisfied customers, thought leaders, social media followers and competitors.

  • Determine who converts and who doesn’t? What makes these followers different?
  • Use customer touch points to learn more. Get input from customer facing employees including sales and customer service.

Create a social media persona. This differs from your marketing persona. It clarifies what your prospects and customers seek from you on social media. Answer these questions:

  • What are their pain points?
  • What is your audience’s role in the purchase process?
  • What else do they read especially social media and online content?
  • What devices do they use and when?
  • Who’s in their content inner circle?


Social Media Buyer Persona – 10 Questions to Ask

Look inside your organization for connections. Before building your social media presence, appreciate your existing community. Assess your employees as social media emissaries.

  • What is their personal voice?
  • Who’s in their social media circles?
  • Are they willing to represent your brand online? If not, what’s the stumbling block? Is there an issue you must resolve?


3. Create content to fuel your social media community and interactions

Your content fuels social media engagement and interactions.

Promotion is NOT social media content. It shouts me, me, me!!! Social media is about being a member of the community and contributing to the greater good. You must pay-it-forward.

Examine your existing content. Find long-playing content opportunities to leverage on social media. Is it aligned with your 3 words?

  • Examine your content analytics for your best and worst content. Update, repost and share your best content. Decide whether to transform your weak content into high value content.
  • Audit your existing content. Find and fill the holes in your content offering. Enhance the content that needs updating.
  • Look at your search results (internal and external). Are you providing the information your visitors seek? Are you using their language?

Assess your existing content structure. (NOTE: This assumes you have a documented content strategy and editorial mission. If not, do this first!)

  • Use the 5 core content categories. Offer your audience a mix of content they need and love. 5_Core_Content_Types_-_Chart-_Heidi_Cohen
  • Curate your content and other people’s content.  Position your firm as a thought leader. For more information, check: 2016 Content Curation Trends.
  • Offer a mix of different content formats. Go beyond text. Use images, video and audio.
  • Adjust your editorial calendar. Plan content your audience needs and craves.
  • Tailor your content based on social media platforms used. Optimize it for audience consumption.
  • Incorporate your consistent brand and voice. Your content and social media interactions must stand out as yours without a logo.
  • Encourage customers and employees to create content. Supply the behind-the-scenes support they need. Include editorial, creative and technology.

Always include a contextually relevant call-to-action in your social media content. Don’t miss an opportunity to extend the relationship.


4. Choose your social media platforms well

When it comes to social media, the natural inclination is to try to do everything.


Be selective on social media. Even with a dedicated team, social media can eat your business’s time and resources. Social media is voracious. It always wants more content and attention.

Start small and build your social media presence. While you can share your content more broadly, I recommend the following platforms. Where appropriate, hold office hours on specific networks.

  • Make your blog the core of your content and social media strategy. Age-wise blogs are social media dinosaurs. But for business results, blogs are the jewel in the marketing crown. Most businesses don’t know how to produce quality content quickly and efficiently.
  • Add Facebook to your social media mix. For B2C and B2B businesses, Facebook trumps other platforms. It has numbers, time on site, installed apps and messaging access. BTW, potential employees start here.
  • Tap into LinkedIn’s professional network. It’s not just B2B. Look beyond positioning your business. Use LinkedIn publishing and Slideshare to establish thought leadership. Develop business connections and hiring.
  • Expand onto YouTube. Extend your presence beyond social media functionality. YouTube is the second largest search engine.
  • Smile for Instagram. Strut your visual stuff. Integrate your brand beyond the logo.

Use a variety of tools to support your social media presence. Amplify your content and curation. Use scheduling tools to save employee time and extend reach by batching your content distribution.

  • Use a scheduling tool. Options include Co-Schedule, Hootsuite, Agora Pulse, Edgar and/or Buffer. Think beyond the first few days, weeks or month.
  • Take advantage of social media prime times and presentations.

Gone are the days of low cost social media reach. Social media networks have algorithms that reduce organic reach. Plan for social media advertising, especially on Facebook. Translation: Budget!!!

Be prepared to romance your social media audience after they leave social media. You need social media bait, landing pages and tailored welcome series.


5. Measure your social media results

Since social media requires real budget and employee time, you must show results.

Don’t expect instant sales. Instead measure elements that support your business objectives.

Be present on social media for the long term. Not every social media bet will pan out.

Track these social media metrics:

  1. Build your brand reach and engagement. How many people are interacting with you and your brand?
  2. Assess your email housefile. Is it growing or just churning?
  3. Manage conversions and/or sales. Can you qualify leads? Can you keep the scent going? Track leads beyond social media interactions.
  4. Provide customer service cost effectively. Reduce barriers to purchase and retain sales.
  5. Examine customer lifetime value. How profitable are social media sourced customers? What other value do they contribute?

The social media fire hose bottom line:

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed doing social media marketing for your business.

Even if you work for a business where resources are scarce.

You can manage your social media marketing instead of having it manage you.

Follow the 5 Step business social media marketing plan.

Document and integrate it into your overall your business goals and marketing strategy.

Then support it with quality content and related marketing strategies.

Use the plan to focus your efforts and manage your resources.

How do you manage your business social media marketing plan?
How do you avoid drinking from the social media fire hose?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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