The Social Media Marketing Plan

If you’ve got good products and services that you want to sell you’ve got to tell people about them, and to do that you’ll need marketing – probably quite a lot of it!

You probably won’t disagree with this statement, but if you’re a small business you’ll then remind me that marketing is expensive and that you can only afford to do a limited amount of it.

This is where social media marketing comes in.

Lauren Dugan on the Simple Measured website describes how social media marketing can be used at relatively low cost to achieve the key marketing objectives important to most small businesses – particularly start-ups.

She starts by outlining the essential components of a social media marketing plan and then goes on to describe how to put this plan into action:

  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals.The more specific, the better.
  • An editorial calendar.Orga’
  • A short- and long-term vision
  • A clear idea of the channels you will focus on.It’s better to do one channel well than a dozen channels poorly.
  • An understanding of your brand’s voice.
  • Audience personas.
  • Which metrics you will use to determine success.

Along with these items, any good plan should have some flexibility. If a 24-hour flash Twitter sale gets no traction, learn to pivot quickly and try a different tactic.

Startups without a marketing plan will find that their social media activity falls flat: without goals, strategy, and metrics you won’t be able to assess whether or not what you’re doing is successful.

Take content marketing, for instance. A full 88 percent of B2B marketers say they engage in some form of content marketing, but 36 percent say that it’s not effective. And why is that? Seventy percent of those surveyed say they either have no strategy or an undocumented one.

To make a long story short, spend some time making a plan of attack before you send your first Tweet.

She then goes on to describe how all the individuals in your business can contribute to your social media marketing:

Use Everyone’s Brainpower

As a startup, you are in a unique position to empower all of your employees to contribute to your marketing efforts on social. Your smaller size makes it easier to get everyone on board, and it helps that you probably (hopefully) know everyone’s name!

Not only can your employees contribute their ideas for blog posts, tweets, and status updates, they can also be leveraged as advocates on your company’s behalf. Since 70 percent of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with people, those startups that encourage their employees to engage customers publicly on social media will be well ahead of the competition in terms of reputation-building.

Your sales team (who might also moonlight as your marketing team, depending on your size) is also a potential source for social media marketing insights. Ask them to pay attention to the questions and objections that customers have about your product, and address these in your marketing material.

Lastly, startups can run their customer service on social media. This can save you money, as your marketing team can double as your customer service team, and it can also act as social proof that your company listens and responds to its customers.

Word of Mouth is Your Best Friend

Far and away, the form of advertising that consumers trust most is word of mouth.

Recommendations from people in a consumer’s social circle are trusted significantly more than any other advertisements they see.

Your startup can harness the power of consumer-to-consumer recommendations on social channels in a number of ways:

  • Offer an incentive for referrals, such as a percentage discount, a gift card or reward points.
  • Directly ask your most satisfied customers to send you referrals.
  • Go above-and-beyond on every customer service ticket.
  • Build a highly visible, engaged community through activities like Twitter chats, webinars and crowdsourced content.

Social media makes it possible not only to encourage your customers’ word of mouth, but that of influencers as well. And the good news is, you don’t need Bieber in order to raise celebrity-level awareness – you just need a handful of mini-Biebers who are influential among your target audience.

Influencer marketing can be an extremely cost-effective tactic for startups. By reaching out to notable thought-leaders in your niche, you can amplify your marketing message well beyond your own audience. Journalists, prominent public figures, bloggers, authors, speakers and more all make great influencers.

It doesn’t cost anything to develop relationships with your fans and influencers on social media, and the payoff can be massive.

Try Something New

Lastly, don’t be afraid of experimentation. Breaking the mold or taking a leap outside your comfort zone doesn’t require a huge budget. It just requires a little courage.

Take a look at the #6SecondScienceFair viral Vine campaign for GE. The campaign encouraged fans to film their own science experiments, in order to build GE’s reputation as an innovator. It generated over 600 user submissions, 345 percent follower growth and 253,800 engagements. In a single week.

Or what about Burberry’s live, behind-the-scenes Snapchat and Periscope campaigns? By adding streaming and short-form content into their marketing mix, the company soared past 100 million impressions and generated record customer engagements.

Sure, these campaigns were created by high-powered ad agencies for high-powered brands. But their basic foundations – crowdsourced content and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks – can be used by even the most bootstrapped of startups.

Be creative with your social media marketing, and you’ll make a splash. Your audience craves newness and excitement, and if you can give it to them, they will reward you with engagement, loyalty, and maybe even some cold hard cash.

She sums up by pointing out that lack of money is no excuse for not marketing if you are savy enough to expolit the opportunities provided by social media marketing.

In the End ….

Money shouldn’t limit your marketing efforts, especially since growth in the early stages of startup life is so essential. There are lots of organic, effective, and cheap (or free) methods of reaching your audience on social media that you can turn to to accelerate your growth. 

It’s well-worth reading the full article by Lauren on the Simply Measured website. It has some some excellent graphics and illustrations.

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