While social media marketing may seem simple, it is a multifaceted endeavor best described as something between art and science. This article provides a broad overview of three stages that guide social media marketing.
One cannot plan for the future before understanding the past. Before you launch a social media marketing campaign, it is essential to conduct research about your brand’s current standing. The following areas of scrutiny are especially important:
- The scope and quality of your digital presence. Where are your marketing efforts focused right now? Do you have a digital presence on all relevant social media platforms? What are the things that are currently done well and what are some areas of improvement?
- Your audience: As Ben Givon always says, learn everything you can about your current customers/cliental, and your social media audiences. Are there divergences between these two groups? Demographics data is a good start, and many social media platforms will provide you with basic data in their analytics sections. However, the more you can probe into the preferences, beliefs and attitudes of your audiences, the better.
- Your competition: What are your competitors doing on social media? As is the case with your own digital presence, examine scope and quality, noting both the good practices which you’d like to emulate and the bad practices that you would like to avoid.
With insight from research in hand, build a social media marketing plan by setting SMART goals for the plan. SMART, an established acronym in management, stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Think of the difference between “creating an engaging social media presence” (fuzzy goal) and “increasing the number of replies and shares to Facebook posts by 50% by the end of the year” (SMART goal). Include specific objectives about your target social media platforms and target audiences.
Another crucial aspect of planning concerns the development of your brand’s social media identity or “voice”. While the topics you post about should be varied, you do want to create a cohesive style of speech that corresponds with your brands’ values and with your own strengths. There is no clear formula for the development of voice. Some successful brands use positive and inspirational tones, other use dry and ironic humor; some are self-deprecating, other use an authoritative tone. What is more important is that you maintain authenticity and consistency.
Set up or improve your social media accounts and get going! When setting-up accounts provide as much detail as possible (and as relevant to the platform) on your profile section. Highlight important keywords and use effective images.
Use a spreadsheet (or dedicated apps) to create a posting schedule that will both account for a regular release of social media content and for a time slot that works well with the demographics of your audience (e.g., lunch time for office workers, late evening for younger audiences)
Finally, keep in mind that research, planning, and execution are ideally recursive steps. After a sufficient ignition time has passed following the launch of a social media campaign, you should start researching its implementation by auditing the extent to which the performance matches your goals; You will probably want to adapt your goals accordingly.