A social media marketing plan is a must for any small business. Social media marketing is cost-effective, can help you reach specific customer demographics, get more leads, and stay engaged with your customers.

7 Tips for Developing your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Determine what your goals are. What do you want to achieve? You may want to grow your brand awareness, increase your community, or grow your target audience. Additionally, your company may be looking for sales and leads generation, or you might want to increase your web traffic.. Be careful to choose something more significant rather than vanity statistics. Use the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) to set goals that will contribute to your business’ success.

Step 2: Once you decide what it is that you want to achieve and what you want your visitors to do, the next step in your social media marketing plan is to study how your customers interact with social media. Look at what platforms they are active on. Observe their behaviors on each platform. Are they using the platform to connect with friends and family? Make a complaint about a product or service they have received? Check out products before purchasing? How do these behaviors relate to your goal? Your research into customer behavior on social media should lead you to determining what social media platforms to use.

Step 3: What to post and how often is up for debate. Hootsuite suggests 1/3 relationship building, 1/3 sharing other’s posts, and 1/3 self-promotion. Others sources advocate the 4-1-1 rule, which suggests 4 new content pieces, 1 repost, and 1 self-promotion. Still others support a 10-4-1 breakdown: 10 third-party posts, 4 blog shares, and 1 sales pitch. Experimenting with these and measuring customer engagement and metrics relating to your objectives will let you know which posting content schedule works best in your social media marketing plan.

Step 4: Craft a social media policy. This policy will provide guidance to employees on how to conduct themselves on the web. It will protect your organization’s reputation and may help you avoid legal issues. The social media policy should address both professional and personal use of social media. While employees have the First Amendment right to free speech, you can use your social media policy to encourage them to speak in a professional and respectful manner.

Step 5: Determine how you will measure success. This is arguably the most important step of all.. Without metrics, you won’t know if you’re succeeding or not. Every goal has a related metric, often referred to as a KPI, or key performance indicator. It could be the number of impressions, followers, reach, likes, comments, click-through rate (CTR) bounce rate, cost-per-click (CPC), or customer testimonials, to name a few. Use the data to make adjustments to your social media marketing strategy, re-test, re-analyze, make further adjustments, and repeat the process.

Step 6: Build your social media team. They’ll help you save time in getting your posts polished and ready to publish. Like a divide and conquer strategy, some staff members may specialize in writing content while others in creating videos; team members may also be assigned to manage different social media platforms. A strong team brings many skill sets to the table and the team approach can encourage creativity and increase access to more resources.

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Step 7: Create a social media marketing calendar. Posting content is not work that you want to be doing on the fly. Using a social media marketing calendar will insure that you are posting to your desired media channels on a regular basis. One channel will not be inadvertently neglected while you over-post in another. Not only is this a place where you can store your topic ideas, but you can keep track of how each post is performing. Based on those measurements, you can make adjustments to your content and your publishing schedule.

Follow these 7 steps and you’ll have a social media marketing strategy in place to grow your small business.

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