1 – Are you Ready and Committed to Your Social Media Marketing Plan?
Once you begin your social media marketing plan, you have to go, no holds barred. It is all or nothing because when people become part of your social media circle, they will expect you to interact with them on a regular basis. It’s like being in a committed relationship. Your social media connections will start to know your rhythms and habits and expect for you to be available for conversation and help. But, you don’t have to be the only social butterfly enacting your social media plan. You can enlist others from your organization to help, as long as you give them clear guidelines. Before you get rolling on your social media initiatives, consider the following to make your plan.
2 – What Are Your Social Media Marketing Goals?
Some people enter into the social media with the goal of accumulating as many “friends” or connections as possible. Does that remind you of the popular kid from high school that was all style and no substance? (Yeah, me too) In order to have success with your social media ventures, you need to make sure that you have style and substance. Just like any other marketing strategy, you need to start your social media efforts with an outcome in mind. Do you want to raise band awareness? Do you want to sell things? Are you going to offer coupons? Do you hope to drive traffic to your website or a landing page? Social Media marketing can help with networking or with link building, or a combination of both. You just need to establish your objectives in order to make the most of your time.
3 – Who Will Manage Your Social Media Marketing Efforts?
You will find, once you begin your social media efforts, that they can take a large amount of time. To really make your brand visible in the social media sphere, you may want to find an assistant to help you that you can trust to be the voice of your brand. The good thing about social media is that it can be viral. The bad thing about social media is that it can be viral. Every single post, comment or interaction on the Internet must be something that you, yourself can back up.
The best assistants to help with social media initiatives are people who are honestly and sincerely passionate about your brand. They also understand the company’s overall “voice” in promotional materials and communications. They need to be good problem solvers and decision makers, understanding when they can handle a problem that might come up, and when they need for someone else to step in. When you find this person, watch their efforts for a while, and then let them run with it. Check up occasionally to make sure your goals are being met, and brainstorm new strategies and arenas to pursue.
Word of Caution – your assistants should not be you on these sites. That goes against everything “holy” about social networking. You should be using them more to update events pages, group announcements, handling customer service related issues, etc.
4 – How Much Have You Budgeted for Social Media?
The best part about most social media initiatives is that they are free; except for the time it takes to participate in the forums, etc. If you decide to hire an assistant to handle specific parts of your social media efforts, be sure to allocate the appropriate funds to do so. Aside from the salary, the only money you might spend to participate in social media efforts is to advertise on social sites although at this point though the effectiveness of these ads is debatable. In addition, you may also want to upgrade to professional status on such websites as LinkedIn, FastPitch, etc.
Overall, it is much better to produce a good product and then connect with your friends, fans and followers than to advertise on these sites. Social media marketing takes a high degree of commitment and time, but it offers benefits that are worth the nominal cost.
5 – How Will You Measure Your Success?
Marketers are all about measuring and it is difficult, if not impossible, to measure direct activity to success with social media marketing. However, it is pretty hard to know whether a multi-million dollar billboard in Times Square helps the brand very much either—in terms of direct sales.
Social media marketing can still produce a high ROI, but in this case, ROI is “return on influence” versus return on investment. Return on influence essentially means, how did your social media efforts affect your brand. Are people talking about you or your company? Are they “re-tweeting”, attending your events and joining your groups? Are you engaged in conversations about who you are, what you do and how you can solve problems. All of these things eventually lead to increased sales.
I would suggest that you start, first, to measure activity—put together metrics for activity in social media. Set goals or schedules for blogging, amount of content bookmarked, commenting to other blogs, tweeting, etc. Once you have been social media marketing for a while, you will be able to survey your customers, review your web traffic and “clicks” and see if certain methods are working better than others. I would argue that, if you are not into social media marketing at all right now, just starting will be a big success! Get out there and get your feet wet. You’ll have nothing to measure if you don’t start.