Social Media offers an accessible, affordable means of marketing. It provides SMEs with an opportunity to compete alongside established brand leaders. On the flip side, it can consume a considerable amount of time, so how can you make it work for your business?
Social media – getting it right
Understand the target audience
To take advantage of social media, you need to consider your customers. Which platforms are they active members of and what are they looking for when they are there?
Only spend time and money on social media if you are sure that your offer is of interest to the audience. It is likely to work well for local B2C enterprises and less so for technical B2B corporations. Focus on the social media platforms that work best for you in reaching your target audience. Be regular with putting out your posts. A site that isn’t often used may give a poor impression to anyone who finds it.
Post relevant content
Research the content that is of interest to your target audience. You can consider frequently asked questions, as well as looking at trending hot topics relating to your industry. Join social media groups and forums to maintain awareness of the products and services that can add value or provide solutions.
If you have insufficient time, delegate this research to the marketing specialist in your team or outsource it to a marketing freelancer.
Focus on the idea of building an online community of loyal supporters, rather than sales. Encourage engagement with questions, tips, fabulous imagery, competitions, upcoming events and offers.
“New marketing is about the relationship, not the medium” – Ben Grossman, BIGMarK
If you receive negative feedback, respond promptly and professionally to restore the relationship. It is worth treating everyone well. Keep them onside to benefit from a valuable marketing resource. Every ‘like’, ‘comment’, ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ helps to extend your reach. Also, to build brand awareness and increase the community – you wouldn’t be able to do it without supporters.
Consider paid advertising on social media
Setting up a social media profile is free and posting is free, so you may not see the point in paying, but there are advantages. Paid advertising is highly targeted and can be a great way to promote events, product launches, seasonal specials and big news.
Content planning – What are the advantages?
At 3 Doc Solutions we are advocates for planning. You may feel that a plan is unnecessary for a few short posts; surely it takes longer to create a content plan than to simply write a comment. Here are the reasons we believe it is advantageous:
- With a monthly theme or topic, it is easier to deliver a consistent message across all channels
- Planning and pre-preparing content opens up the opportunity to schedule posts across all social media channels using tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer
- A plan makes it easier to identify natural links in the content (to previous posts, to specific goods or services, or, to external sites)
Let’s explore these advantages in greater detail.
Plan for time management
Have you frequently spent more time than intended on your company’s social media channels? Have you struggled to think of ideas on the spot? Do you get distracted from other business tasks because you are scrolling for inspiration?
With a social media marketing plan in place, you know what message you want to share in advance. On a quieter day, you might write a page of posts about your monthly theme. Posting is then quick and easy. You can then spend the allocated time responding to comments, supporting other local businesses with shares or mentions and building your social media community.
If you are delegating, a plan is also valuable in communications with your marketing specialist or freelancer. It ensures that the right products and services will be promoted at optimum times. Guided by the marketing plan, they can channel energy into creative ideas to engage the reader.
Plan for consistency
Social media is all about timely interaction. Whilst it is impractical to be constantly signed in and responsive, it is good to engage with followers frequently. This can be managed by more than one of the team and with everyone working from the plan, a consistent brand message is achievable.
Do you often forget to post? When you are focused on employees, customers and production, social media often gets skipped. With a clear plan and a scheduled slot in your diary, to work on content, you can use scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite to keep your profile active.
Plan for quality content
An on-the-spot post is likely to contain the first idea that comes into your head. It could be a gem, but you stand a better chance of crafting a message of value with a little more thought.
With a plan in place, you can think around the idea, research and spot things that relate. As such, your idea can evolve. This improves the chance of sharing a message that is of interest and relevance to the audience.
Once you have a strong message, it can be altered and used across many different channels. As an example, a case study could be posted as a blog. Snippets can then be used on social media, as well as in monthly newsletters. A link might even feature in future proposals.
Creating a social media marketing plan
To aid efficiency, 3 Doc Solutions has created a social media marketing plan template that you can find at the end of the article. This will also be available to download from the template library page for a limited time.
The main table lists the date and days of the month, along with the different social media platforms (simply add those which apply to your business). The section to the right is where notable events, national days, products/services in focus and topics can be listed. You can add ideas throughout the year.
Regular features – You may decide to have a regular feature, such as business tips, a product demonstration on YouTube or a podcast. Fill these in on a specific day of the month or week. Then, add a post in advance to build interest.
Company news – If you add a blog, vacancy or new product to your website, post an introduction and link on social media.
Relevant products and services – Think about peak times for orders of specific products and services and tie your content into those.
Business ethics – Is your brand known for quality, great for customer service, being local or environmentally responsibility? How might you get that message across?
Collaboration – In addition to the news from your team, you could put other organisations in the spotlight. How about a monthly post about a charity that you support or another local business?
Increase engagement by putting information into infographics or video formats. Collate a portfolio of images that complement posts. Use memes or animation if they suit your brand image.
Get in touch to find out how 3 Doc Solutions can produce images and infographics to elevate your social media posts.
Professional Business Services
If you would like the social media marketing plan to be branded or tailored for your organisation, please get in touch. Shortcode
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