According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, as many as 50% of businesses fail within their first five years. The disquieting nature of this claim is only reinforced when you consider that in 2016 alone, 400,000 new businesses were started for every 470,000 lost in the United States. The market for small businesses is being continually attenuated as opportunities become mired by the abilities and reach of their larger counterparts. So what is it exactly that separates the wheat from the chaff in the realm of success, and what lessons should prospective entrepreneurs take from the hoards of poorly executed business strategies?
One lesson that seems rudimentary, but is often not accorded with due importance is the development of a successful marketing plan. The sheer breadth of this topic is too vast to cover in one blog post, so for our current purposes, we will focus on how a successful marketing plan can be generated specifically in the area of social media.
Setting Social Media Goals To Align With Company Goals
Though the broad steps of a social media marketing plan are the same, divergence in approach begins with the specific goals your business wants to achieve. Goals should be nested within a larger marketing strategy that matches your brand’s core vales.
To identify what specific goals need to be pursued, you should first audit your brand’s digital presence, and analyse your marketing and sales funnels to determine where improvements could be made. It is important to remember that in analysing your own social media data, you should go beyond vanity metrics like retweets and likes. Instead, more relevant sources of data are qualities such as leads generated, web references and conversion rates.
Utilizing these types of analytics should help you to discover whether your social media campaign is in need of building awareness, generating leads, nurturing an audience you have already fostered or possibly discovering more about said audience. The goal that you identify should then be used as the foundation for the rest of your plan.
Choice Of Social Media Accounts
Once a full social media audit has been performed, and goals have been established, changes to your online presence can start being considered. The plan you make for your proposed changes should be couched in the goals you’ve identified. For instance, your goals, whatever they may be, are likely to manifest themselves better in some social media sites (say Facebook or Instagram) than others (for example Twitter). So your first action should be to delineate what social media platforms best service your goals, and focus on them rather than casting a broad net over multiple platforms.
If your set of goals instead implores you to cultivate multiple social media accounts, then your plan for optimisation should include some form of cross promotion in all of your platforms. Some sets of goals can be geared to forming a social media ecosystem, in which case your next plan should be focusing on how your accounts across multiple platforms should interact.
It is of equal importance to know the tactics of your competitors as it is to know the details of your own social media marketing strategy. Being apprised of the activities of others will provide you with the opportunity to integrate the successful social media tactics of third parties, as well to avoid the pitfalls your competition falls into.
Start by compiling a list of your most successful social media competitors in the field to which you operate (success can be roughly gauged by followers and shares of posts). Attention should be paid to the type, tenor and frequency of posts, but moreover it is of prime importance to look at audience engagement. By analysing which posts engender the most audience engagement (e.g. comments and shares), you will begin to develop a more cogent plan of what to implement in your social media accounts. Much of your content strategy should be built around the most successful posts of your most successful competitors.
Create A Content Calendar
I had alluded to earlier the necessity of knowing the correct frequency of posts. I should note that this frequency, whatever it ends up being, should be on a fairly regimented schedule. It is a ubiquitous principle across all social media platforms that user interest fades without the reliability of new content. Social media content calendars provide the dates and times to which you intend to publish Instagram and Facebook posts, tweets, and other content. Beyond giving your consumers a constant stream of new information, social media calendars give you time in advance to frame the language and format of the posts in a manner to which you see fit.
It is imperative to make sure that your social media calendar reflects the goals you have illustrated earlier in your marketing plan. For instance, if the purpose of your Facebook account is lead generation, make sure that there is an abundance of planned posts for that very reason. You should define your calendar in a manner that reflects your most desperate social media needs.
Of course, spontaneity can be given room to flourish even with this clearly defined structure. If there are any unaccounted events that cry out for exploitation in your social media page, don’t feel any trepidation in taking advantage of it. Beyond that, interaction with consumers should also be spontaneous, and judged on a case-by-case basis.
Adjustments To The Formula
Though there is an inordinate amount of value in having a social media marketing plan to refer to, it should be considered that no plan can account for every eventuality. Though your plan may spawn immediate success, it should be subject to refinement and continual optimisation. Therefore, the most crucial dictum of your plan is that it should undergo refinement constantly.