By now, most small business owners have begun to see the importance of trying to reach potential customers on social media. One thing that usually becomes clear very quickly is that it takes more than simply having a page on a social network to see any benefit from it. Like every other part of small business, social media marketing requires a coherent strategy and plan of action in order to be effective. This post will discuss what small business owners should consider when developing a social media marketing.
The first step for developing a marketing strategy is picking a goal or objective. A goal gives marketers something to work toward and a way to evaluate their progress. To pull a page from Marketing 101 classes and leadership seminars, goals should be SMART, as in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. To illustrate, A SMART objective for a social media campaign for a car customization business would be “To increase the adult male portion of our social media fan base by 15 percent within four months.”
Having a SMART objective makes the next step, deciding on tactics, easier to do. There are numerous tactics that a social media marketer can use to promote their organization, but only a few will work to accomplish the specific objective established earlier. To illustrate, the demographic an organization is trying to market to should influence their choice of social media platform. So if the goal is to increase the adult male fan base of an organization, then it would make more sense to use tactics that involve Facebook, where nearly 1 out of every 2 American men have an account, than to use Pinterest, which only 1 in 20 men have.
After deciding on tactics, another thing to consider is integration. Social media should connect with the other marketing efforts for an organization. When used properly, traditional marketing and social media marketing can form a chain of promotions that builds both channels. For example, including links to a company’s social media channels on all marketing and advertising materials will help build the social media fan base, while the social media fan base can raise awareness about the business and specials to their friends and family.
“The successful campaigns I have worked on… have been integrated with other marketing activities, such as email marketing,” said Marc Blinder of Adobe in an article with The Guardian. “All channels have to work together. We need to think of it as more of a marketing campaign than a social media campaign. Facebook is a great place to bring a lot of channels together as your Facebook fan base stays with you forever.”
Budgets and time are other important factors that social media marketers need to keep in mind when deciding on tactics. Budgets will affect the tactics a business can use, such as contest, promoted content, or advertisements on social media platforms. One of the benefits of social media is that it works for organizations with small budgets, who just want to increase awareness by establishing a social media presence or larger businesses with budgets for advertising and generous incentives. Similarly, the time it takes to do social media marketing determines which tactics are feasible and whether or not the business should hire an outside firm to handle social media (as was discussed in another article on this blog.)
As a final thought, a business can’t be content simply to have and implement a social media marketing plan. It’s important to continually evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s social media efforts. Though it may be tricky to understand the various metrics available, there are some good articles on this blog about how to measure and track these results. Afterwards, these results should be used to refine the strategy so the tactics are more effective. As Winston Churchill once said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
Creating a marketing strategy for a social media campaign is essential for the success of the efforts. Following this system of goal setting, tactic implementation, and evaluation will help businesses avoid the trap of wasting money on ineffectual social media marketing campaigns.