Business owners have myriad items on their plate and just as many items that are costing both time and money. We know, we work with small to medium-sized business owners every day and we understand their issues, but we also know critical it is to have a social media marketing plan in place. In fact, we tell them to take the word “social” right out of that phrase and we simply ask, “Do you have a marketing plan in place?” Savvy business owners will because they know they need to get their name “out there” and they need to be prospecting and bringing new clients into the pipeline — without new clients, there is no business.
Now, if we add the word “social” back into the equation we can get to work on putting together a social media marketing plan. This plan can encompass both on- and off-line marketing efforts. A marketing plan should be part of your overall business plan because during the business planning phase you identified who your ideal clients are, where they congregate and how you can interact with them. Your business plan will also have helped you identify how what you do can benefit them.
The Benefit of Social Media Marketing
Why do many social media marketing plans fail? Because there was no underlying structure to support them. They were a good idea in theory but the practice part never quite came together. Here, though, are our five tips for putting together a social media marketing plan that has a foundation and can support your business growth efforts:
- Commit to social media marketing. If you’re not committed to all aspects of your marketing it will be doomed to fail. If, for example, you decide to run a series of three ads in the local newspaper that are leading up to a grand opening at your business, but stop running the ad after the second, you have broken that momentum and failed to live up to that aspect of your marketing commitment. If you commit to being on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a trade industry networking group, set up your page but never interact, you are not committed. Whether you are going to do your own social media marketing or hire a firm to do it for you, you need to make a commitment to, “updating our blog and social media properties three times a week” and then stick to it.
- Know where you need to be. If your clientele is not on Facebook, then you may or may not need to be on Facebook. If, however, you’ve made a commitment to be there because “everyone else is there” then at least commit to updating a couple of times a week, even if you don’t see any traffic being generated. It’s worse to have your social media page built and inactive than it is to have no page at all. If your clients aren’t on Pinterest and if your goods or services don’t lend themselves to that photo heavy medium, don’t spend your time there. Go where your clients and potential clients are.
- Be the expert. Your clients come to you because of your expertise. You want your potential clients to choose you because of what you know. Use that to your advantage on social media sites. While you don’t want to always be selling, you can certainly join a conversation in your niche and add your expert voice. For example, if someone is posting about the “best way to write a blog post” and that is your area of expertise you can add a point or two or agree, but elaborate on some of the points being made. You’re not selling, but you are planting the seed that you are someone who knows what he is talking about — readers will remember that.
- Run a contest or a promotion. This is a great way to up your engagement and while not everyone who enters the contest or promotion will be prospective clients, you will at least garner the attention of a few who will be. Your contest or promotion can have as its ultimate “prize” the gift of your services or one of your products. If, for example, you are a business coach offer a free hour of coaching. Who knows, this free hour may lead to a new client! Make certain you’re offering something of value that your potential clients are clamoring for.
- Take social media marketing off of your plate. As the business owner you have a certain set of expert skills that you offer to clients, right? If that skill set is not aligned with performing social media tasks and writing blog posts or designing ads for the local newspaper, then delegate those tasks to someone who does have the expertise. It may be tempting to either want to control all of your social media interactions or to take on that task, but you should do a cost analysis and ask yourself if it makes financial sense for you to undertake a task at which you are not expert or whether it’s best for you to focus on your core business competency and let someone else do the marketing. Hint: Even if you hire someone to do your social media for you, you can still control the message because you can either ask to see messages before they go live or you and your social media marketing expert can share an online social media scheduler that you access and make updates before they go live.
Where does your social media marketing fit int your current workday. Are you committed to it? If you’re committed, but simply don’t have the knowledge or time, contact us, we can help!