Social media is a fantastic opportunity to tap into a massive pool of traffic and bring your offer in front of the right eyeballs. All the while, you’ll be increasing brand awareness and getting your unique voice out there, effectively shaping your public persona that showcases your company’s values.
This sounds good on paper, but too many business owners go at it without giving the overall strategy much thought, placing the vast majority of their bets on a hope and a prayer. Others may face the exact opposite issue where they overthink every last detail to the point of action paralysis. There are even some cases in which someone might start with the right general idea, but eventually get lost somewhere along the way.
The solution is to create a sound and solid social media marketing plan right at the start and stick to it through thick and thin. By doing so, you won’t waste too much time re-thinking what you need to accomplish every day and devote more of your time to taking the steps that will actually bring you closer to your business goals.
But how do you go about devising a social media marketing plan that works? That’s what we’re here for! Below, we’ve summed up the most important steps that go into making one:
1. Pinpoint your goals
Despite how everyone’s business goals may be different, one thing is for sure: you’re not on social media to waste time. When developing a plan of attack, the very first thing you need to ask yourself is what you’re aiming to achieve.
This can be anything from:
- Raising brand awareness
- Making sales
- Offering customer support
- Boosting engagement
- Prospect acquisition
- Driving traffic
It can be one or more of these goals or perhaps even all of them. But the key thing for you to do is to write them down. This way, they can serve as your beacon of light to guide you through every move that you’re still to make. It’s the absence of having a goal that has the potential to lead you down a dark alley of second-guessing yourself ad infinitum.
Your initial goals can be as broad as the examples listed above, but at some point down the line, you can break them down even further into more specific actionable goals. If you’re new to the social media marketing game, don’t sweat it too much (it’s just something to think about at some point).
2. Define your target audience
Before marketing anything to anyone, you need to determine who your ideal audience might be. Otherwise, you’ll be just like the majority of online marketers that fail due to trying to sell specific products or services to a general audience that has no interest in them to begin with – a rookie mistake.
So what exactly is a target audience? One synonym for target audience you might have heard is a buyer persona. Let’s suppose you’re selling golf clubs. You need to ask yourself:
- How old is a typical golfer? Give it a range.
- What other interests do they have besides golfing?
- Roughly how much do they earn? Hint: most golfers have extra money to spare.
- Where are they located?
By knowing the answers to these questions (they don’t need to be too detailed, just to give you a rough idea), you will be able to produce the kind of content that is likely to resonate with the people you're trying to address. Otherwise, you may very well find yourself churning out post after post only to find out that no one is willing to listen. Clearly, that’s not a situation you want to find yourself in.
In case you’re already getting some traffic to your website, consider installing Google Analytics. Given how it breaks down your visitors into age, gender, language, and other brackets, many people consider it to be a target audience synonym tool, even though there are other ways to go about doing this. To list one of them, there’s Similarweb. In essence, you enter a website belonging to one of your competitors, and you will have a wealth of demographics-related data to work with.
3. Pick your social media network of choice
As with all things in life, you need to pick your battles. If you’ve done your homework as outlined in the previous step, you should have at least some clue as to where your prospective customers are likely to be hanging out.
For instance, when comparing Facebook vs Instagram for business, the obvious thing to keep in mind is that one is more visually-driven compared to the other. In case you happen to be selling products that have at least some kind of visual appeal, you’re bound to be doing great on Instagram. Facebook should work for most niches you can’t fit in anywhere else.
But what if you’re comparing Instagram vs Pinterest? Since they both heavily favor visual content, they’re both amazing choices for female-dominated niches like fashion, makeup, style, and even home décor to some extent. The devil is in the details; while Instagram content mostly revolves around photos of people and events, Pinterest focuses a bit more on product-centric imagery and crafts.
Facebook vs LinkedIn is another commonly discussed topic among marketers. The main difference between them is that Facebook is mostly B2C oriented whereas LinkedIn tends to focus on B2B almost exclusively, meaning it lends itself perfectly to building your B2B social media marketing strategy around.
As for Twitter, this is perhaps one of the most specific of the bunch, since the platform limits the length of your content to no more than 280 characters per tweet. Therefore, whatever you write about will need to be short and to the point (although there is always the option of posting a short article snippet and then inserting a link to where they can read the full article). Other than that, memes, news posts, funny tweets and jokes, all of these should all do well on Twitter.
4. Analyze your competition
Once you’ve determined where you’ll be posting the most, it’s time to analyze your competitors and see what they’re up to. This might sound counter-intuitive, but if you happen to discover that lots of people are doing a similar thing as you, this might not be a bad thing. If anything, it’s a sign there is money to be made in this niche – otherwise, other people wouldn’t be doing this to such an extent and for such a prolonged period of time.
At the same time, you’ll be able to gauge the kind of follower numbers you can expect once your social media channel takes off, what the ideal times to post are, how engaged the followers tend to be, what their pain points are, and what kind of content tends to work best. It may seem like a lot to take in, but at the same time, it’s an essential step to take when devising your social media marketing plan.
Without performing this crucial step, you’d have to keep stumbling in the dark, not knowing what to write about, what your audience likes, and where to take your channel in the long run.
So how to start analyzing your competition on social media? While there are probably a myriad of tools designed exactly for this purpose, the truth is, you don’t necessarily need to use any of them, especially if you’re just starting out. Instead, simply use a social media platform’s built-in search bar and type in the keywords associated with your niche. Then, see whose content comes up and take notes.
After you have your list of competitors in hand, simply go through their feed one by one and note everything that stands out, perhaps even assembling your very own swipe file you’ll be utilizing as you devise a content strategy. The beauty of this is that your competitors have already done the majority of the work for you – by analyzing their feed, you will know exactly what content ideas have worked in the past and what kind of content people reacted positively to.
5. Devise a content strategy
If you’ve completed the previous step, brainstorming content ideas should be, well, a no-brainer. Besides, we’ve published an in-depth guide on the subject, so be sure to give it a read. To recap, most of your content strategy will come from studying your competition, which should be the bread and butter of how to approach devising one.
Since you want to avoid being just another copycat, you’re going to think of creative ways of how to improve upon the foundation that has already been laid out for you. For example, if your competitors’ content is informative but perhaps a bit too dull and boring, see if you can give it a more engaging angle. At the very least, you can color your audience’s world by attaching images, videos, and other multimedia files to your posts.
Don’t forget to capitalize on seasonal trends. Christmas, Easter, Labor Day, and perhaps even Black Friday are only a couple of generic ideas to implement. If, for example, you own a clothing brand, getting some spooky vibes going around Halloween is a good way to sell off some of your inventory.
Then, of course, there’s your trusty old swipe file, a marketer’s best friend. If you haven’t prepared one already, you’ll realize its importance the very first time you run into a writer’s block, a nasty ailment that plagues every creative individual on planet Earth.
The good news is, coming up with engaging content is much easier if you’re following a step-by-step method like this one (as opposed to staring into a blank wall and not having a clue). The only tricky part is mustering up the discipline to invest time into growing your social media channels every day.
6. Post on a daily basis
Now comes the most labor-intensive part of the process – actually doing the daily grind. If you have an in-house team, you could assign a staff member to do this for you. If not, there’s always the option of outsourcing the work to a dedicated social media manager.
Understandably, as a small business owner, you may not have the budget to pay for either. If that’s the case and you really have neither the time nor the desire to grow your social media presence all on your own, we’ve got a solution for you!
Meet Ocoya, your one stop solution for social media content generation and scheduling. As long as you have at least one day to spare every month, this Swiss army knife tool allows you to automatically generate your social media content for the entire month. Then, you only need to schedule it for publishing in advance and it will be posted at any time and date of your choosing.
To see how easy it is, we’re going to walk you through the entire process.
For our first example, we’re going to generate some ideas for your next tweet. Navigate to the main menu and see if you can spot the Travis AI section to the left. Click it.
Keep scrolling down until you see a big blue icon that says “Tweet Ideas”. This is where you need to go.
Finally, enter some basic pointers about your brand and let Ocoya shower you with creative ideas!
When it’s time to schedule your tweet, revisit Ocoya’s main page and find the “Posts” section to the left. Open it.
This time, you won’t need to do any scrolling, since the big “Create New” button is the first thing you’ll see on the next screen. Press it.
The next couple of screens highlight where to enter the tweet you’d like to post and how to schedule it for later.
7. Refine and optimize
After a couple of months, you should see at least a fair bit of success. This should be enough to keep you motivated as you strive to reach higher goals in the future. To know you’re headed in the right direction, it’s important to learn how to measure success of social media campaigns while optimizing certain aspects of them if need be. There will be some trial and error involved, but don’t let that discourage you!
At Ocoya, we’re strong advocates of a data-driven approach to marketing on social media. For this reason, we’re going to take a look at some of the key metrics you need to monitor to take your social media campaigns to the next level:
Without getting too technical, some of the most important Facebook metrics to monitor are:
Since you’ll mostly be focusing on organic content marketing, you won’t be under too much pressure (as opposed to someone who’s pumping in money into Facebook ads). Your only investment in this case will be your time. Still, you need to have some way of knowing that your social media marketing efforts are paying off so as to not get discouraged.
Some of the top LinkedIn metrics to track are:
- Page views and unique page views
- Number of followers
Much like some of the other ones we’ve covered, these are the Instagram metrics that should be of interest to you:
- Follower growth rate
- Engagement rate
- Link clicks per post
- Comments per post
Here are some of the Twitter metrics to track:
- Top tweets
- Like rate
- Impressions by time of day
- Top tweets
Finally, these Pinterest metrics will tell you whether your social media marketing campaigns are working:
- Likes, comments, and repins per pin
- Most repinned
- Top pins
Once you get some experience under your belt, marketing your products or services on multiple social media channels will get easier and easier. To remain as efficient as possible, you should come up with a plan that lets you spend as little time as possible on thinking and maximizes your creative output.
Thanks to cutting edge social media content creation and scheduling tools like Ocoya, you will be able to reach your social media marketing goals in as little time as possible, all while forever kissing goodbye to the most arduous and labor-intensive tasks you’d otherwise have to do the hard way.