Social media is in pretty much everyone’s lives and used for a variety of business and non-business reasons; keeping in touch with overseas friends and family, finding out the latest pub deal, promoting events, selling goods and services. It’s also transcended the practical into a mindfield of emotive aspects, such as personal validation, emotional support, entertainment and some more negative aspects such as trolling, bullying and spreading fake news.
It’s difficult to get away from social media and its effects even if you want to. It’s permeated our lives, and for good or bad it’s here to stay. As such it has become a necessary and also valuable tool in our marketing. For most businesses having an online presence is mandatory in order to drive business and to look professional.
It is important to realise that social media is only one part of your marketing strategy. Creating a Facebook page and expecting it to miraculously bring in business and do all your marketing for you, is unrealistic. It’s a risk to rely on social media to create sales and business awareness without planning strategically.
Elements of a marketing plan
In future articles, we will share many aspects of marketing and creating a marketing plan could be a long article on its own. So, this is an overview of the type of elements to include and to consider.
- I always begin with the basic question of what I am trying to achieve. If you don’t know what end result you are seeking, you can’t plan an effective strategy. For example, a charity might have two goals, awareness of its purpose and fundraising.
- Do my business goals align with my marketing goals?
- Who are my customers, where are they, and how do I get to them?
- When I am considering how to reach my customers, I consider social media channels as well as other aspects such as print ads in journals, radio/TV advertising, online advertising, billboard and bus shelter advertising, newsletters, signage, guest speaking, networking…..the list goes on and on!
- Is my branding consistent across all aspects of my business?
- What is my budget?
- Consider timings. Making an implementation plan for the year is very helpful for spacing out activities and for maximising any key dates. It helps for budgeting also.
- How will I measure and evaluate my activities?
- Organisational roles and internal communication.
Which social media channels are best for me?
Spend some time researching the various channels and their key demographics. Read articles about trends, to determine which are the more popular and which might be the ‘next best thing’.
Once you’re familiar with the most popular channels, which for most businesses are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, think about your customers. Who are they? How old are they? Where do they live and what are their interests and shopping habits? Match up any demographic information you have with the platform. If your business has elderly customers, the youth oriented platform, Snapchat is unlikely to suit you. If you wish to connect with CEOs and business leaders, LinkedIn could be the place. A young audience may prefer watching TikTok videos to seeing static posts on Facebook.
Also, think about the type of content you will be creating. For example, a photographer who has beautiful and engaging photos to share, would be well suited to Instagram, a very visual platform.
A trend to be aware of is social media platforms ‘stealing’ each others’ features! For example, LinkedIn has recently released ‘Stories’, which began on Instagram to counteract the popularity of SnapChat. It then rolled out into Facebook. Instagram created ‘Reels’ to counteract the popularity of videos on TikTok and then this week, YouTube has released ‘Shorts’, to compete in the short video market.
TIP: each time a platform brings out a new feature, it wants it to be popular, so if you use it, you will more likely be rewarded by the algorithm and your content will be shown to more people.
Social media is fast moving and constantly changing. It can be chaotic and overwhelming. My advice, particularly if you are new to social media, or if you have many aspects to your marketing, is to choose just one social media platform and focus on it. Use it to drive traffic to your website and don’t spread yourself too thin. Focussing on one platform and doing it well, will enable you to be consistent and regular with your posting, will enable time to engage, monitor and evaluate interactions and will enable you to build your audience, create engagement and meet your goals.
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