Do you have a Facebook page? Most business owners can give a quick answer to this question. But, what about the next one: What’s your social media plan?
You won’t hear many people say, “I’m no social media expert.” Today, it seems like everyone thinks they know about social media and how to drive engagement and conversion. But few have a thoughtful strategy or plan behind their social activities.
I started at zero – I had a Facebook and LinkedIn account and was somewhat active, but didn’t know the first thing about managing a thriving social media business page. I’m going to share the best of what I’ve learned in my real-life study. One thing I do know is this: if I did it, you can do it.
But first, I’ll start where I always start when giving “marketing tips.” One of my key learnings is that you can’t create a social media plan without some good old-fashioned strategy work. See the chart below. Social media is a “Step 4” activity. In other words, you don’t start with “I’m creating a Facebook page!” You must lay the groundwork first or you will fail.
If you haven’t clearly defined your overall business strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy (Steps #1 - #3), I would highly recommend reading these articles before starting with any type of marketing activities (i.e. social media plan)…
Only NOW are you ready to determine your marketing activities. How & where will you find and interact with your customer? A website, blog, email, cold calls, SEO, direct mail, Google ad words? Will you conduct seminars, write articles in publications, create a video series, send direct mail? Should social media be part of your plan?
I’d say YES. First, it’s what’s expected. It’s called Social Proof. When you first hear about a new product/company/service, do you go to Google/Facebook to learn more? I’m not going to do much convincing here – social media is either right for your brand or it’s not.
If it is, I’m sharing the 6 things I’ve learned to make it as successful a venture as possible!
1. Choose wisely
I’ve seen quite a few people rush out and try to create accounts across multiple social channels. This did not work out well because they bit off more than they could chew. So, how do you choose? Click here to read an article that does a great job laying out 3 questions you should ask yourself.
1. Do potential fans/clients spend time there?
This question is one of the reasons we did all that Business Strategy pre-work. If you haven’t solidified your main client/prospect, it would be hard to answer this question. Here’s a good recap…
- If your client is Employers – LinkedIn, Twitter (good to establish credibility)
- If your client is Individuals – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
- If your client is Gen Y – Instagram
- If you want some SEO help – Google+
2. Does it make sense for your content/message?
What types of media will you share with your audience (videos, pictures, articles, etc.)? Will your posts be about healthcare, compliance, HR issues, etc.? Obviously, if you don’t have or have the ability to create images, Pinterest and Instagram won’t be your best bet.
3. Does it make sense for you?
Is it something you can easily fit into your business? After doing some research and observation, do you “get” how it works? Do you have time to do it? When we first started freshbenies, everyone told us we should be on Pinterest because most of our members would be women. While I understood that, I wasn’t sure how we’d turn healthcare into images people would want to pin on Pinterest AND I didn’t have time. We decided to start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter because I could manage 3 social networks.
2. Learn it or hire someone to manage it WITH you!
I would caution you not to 100% “outsource” the management of your social media to someone else unless they’re tied to your company at the hip. The person who manages your social media needs to know all your business, brand and marketing strategies before they can represent you on social media. I personally did all our social posting for the first 3 years and I still watch it like a hawk today.
If you’re up for learning, there are some great resources. Below are 2 I highly recommend. If you sign up to receive their emails, you can read the articles that pertain to you and delete those that don’t.
Click here for Social Media Examiner.
Click here for HubSpot.
You’re the business owner, you’re the brand owner. Just because you don’t know social media doesn’t mean you should hand it over to someone else who will speak to your clients or potential clients on a daily/weekly basis on your behalf.
One final tip: enlist your team to help! They can help with post ideas, finding content, writing content, etc. Our team sends us ideas, writes blog posts, and publishes articles on LinkedIn regularly (more on that later).
3. Clean your house
So, you’ve determined the social networks you should be on and figured out how you’re going to manage it. Now, you’re ready to invite people to your party. Just like a real party, you clean your house before the guests show up.
If you’re creating a business page on multiple social networks, consistency in your branding and profile across each is key. If you read my branding article (note Tip #5), you understand why consistency is so important.
Your “About Us” or profiles should be flawless. This is your chance to tell your story. Who are you? How do you help? Why should your clients and prospects work with you? Be sure to succinctly state what you do (this is another reason for all your business, brand and marketing strategy pre-work). You’ll have a little variance depending on the audience for each channel. For instance, we speak to Individuals and Members on Facebook, so we’re a little less business formal. On LinkedIn, our profile is a bit different because we’re talking to business owners and insurance brokers. In either case, use plain, simple language – remember your audience and use words they know and are familiar with. For example, we would never us the word “ancillary” on our Facebook page, but our LinkedIn followers know exactly what we’re talking about.
Professionalism is key! Please watch your grammar and punctuation - it needs to be 100% right 100% of the time. Treat everything you post as if it were going into a magazine. Also, please no blurry, skewed, or ill-fitting photos or logos. This immediately makes you look “minor league” – at freshbenies, we call it “amateur hour.” For a few hundred dollars, you can get someone to create timeline images and logos that work perfectly for each network.
Also, it’s important to clearly list your website address in multiple places. First, it’s where you want them to go to learn more about you and contact you if they’re interested in getting more info. Second, driving traffic to your site is always preferred. I’ve seen quite a few social media pages that neglect this and it leaves prospects and clients having to work to find you. We all know what happens next…nothing. That’s not good.
You can read part 2 of this series here.
Now it’s your turn! Are you considering more or less activity on social media? Do you have tips for others who are struggling with a social media plan? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!