Planning for social media marketing success

by Rheanna Chou
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There’s just something about self-promotion that makes me cringe. But it really can’t be avoided. I was evaluating my own social media marketing efforts and realized that I wasn’t really leveraging social media at all, other than throwing my blog posts up on my personal Facebook page (which hardly counts). So, in the spirit of intentional marketing, here are a few tips and tricks to make social media marketing a little less hairy.

Define your marketing goals

You should know ahead of time what you’re hoping to get out of your social media efforts. It can be anything from brand awareness to sales, but you have to know what you’re trying to do in order to develop a plan to do it. A quick survey of these three questions can set you on the right path:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What do want to gain?
  3. How much time do you have?

Once you figure out who you want to connect with, what you expect them to do once you’ve connected, and how much time you have to dedicate to connecting, you can start choosing your platforms.

Also, understand that social media requires man power. Know your limitations so you can avoid overextending yourself — your clients are going to expect full access to you once you connect, so make sure you’ll be available to respond.

Choose your platform

There are a lot of options out there and they all offer something that’s just a little bit different. I really like Facebook, because it offers the ability to write much longer posts than other platforms and you can create a dedicated business page linked to your personal page. This is nice because it separates my personal and business pages while still leveraging my personal page and all of the connections I already have.

Twitter is more of a conversation happening in real time and offers you the ability to connect and respond quickly. Twitter is a bit intimidating for me, but I’ve found that following a few hashtags relevant to my business allows me to ease into the conversation when I feel I have something interesting to say.

Instagram is about sharing images rather than body copy, but a short snippet of information and a few relevant hashtags in the caption is appropriate and can help grow brand awareness.

These are just my top three, but there’s also LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr and many others. Take a look at this blog post for a more in-depth look at what each platform can add to your marketing efforts.

Pro tip: Not all social media platforms will be right for you. Start with the top two or three that fit your needs best.

Curate content

You want to post your own content on your social media pages, but don’t get so focused on what you have to say that you exclusively post your own stuff. Be social and take the opportunity to feature content from other brands on your social media.

At a webinar I attended, the presenter addressed linking to other brands. He said that while you may not want to feature your competitors, you can share content from brands that are complementary to yours. For example, if you’re an editor, you might share something from a graphic designer whose work you admire.

Sharing content from brands in the same industry can open up new opportunities. You may be able to pick up a few new client and build relationships with other professionals who can refer you business.

Direct traffic back to your site

When crafting your posts, don’t forget to point people back to your website. This is where you tie it all together in a neat little package for your audience. Hey, audience, not only do I have interesting things to say about what I do, but here’s where you can go to see more (hire me, please). The most obvious way to direct traffic back to your site is by popping your link into each post, but it goes beyond that.

First, you need to make sure your profile is completely and accurately filled in. Tell people about who you are and what you do and don’t make people search for answers. Everything needs to be easily accessible.

Second, post engaging content regularly and make it super easy for visitors to share that content. Getting your content out there and into your audience’s feeds can help grow brand awareness and get new visitors to your site.

Third, include calls to action. People might be reading your stuff, but if you’re not asking for their business, it might never progress past that point. Give clear, actionable steps for your readers to take next. This might be “click here to read more” or “need an editor, contact me here.” Make the ask.

Measure and adjust

Once you’ve got your formula figured out, you need to know that it’s working and where you might need to adjust if it’s not. This is where analytics comes in.

Analytics are important for many reasons, but especially because it tells you everything you need to know about the people who are visiting your site and then some. And a really good analytics tool will break it down into helpful graphics and bullet points for those of us who don’t really understand the intricate workings of data mining.

I use Google analytics, but there are plenty of free options out there. The bottom line is you can’t expect to change the things that aren’t working if you don’t know what they are — analytics bridges that gap. Find a tool you like and get a plugin for your site.

Get going!

Social media can be a great way to drive traffic back to your site and gain more clients, sales, blog followers, etc. While simply being on social media doesn’t guarantee marketing success, having a plan that includes the basic who, what, where and how, can get you started, and the data can keep you on the right path. So get your social media profiles together and start achieving your goals!

Do you have tips that have really helped your own social media efforts? Share them in the comments!

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