Do you remember Barney’s 16-step elaborate plan for making a girl fall in love with him from the show “How I Met Your Mother”? Watching the show, this plan seemed ridiculous and unnecessarily long. Still, as I started interacting with marketing agencies in Los Angeles, I have come to realize that similar to Barney’s plan, social media marketing strategies require the same amount of effort and many steps. The crucial part of social media marketing is having a strategy. Posting something at a random time is never going to get you to where you want to go. Scrolling through a company’s Instagram, it may seem effortless and easy to do, but everything is very carefully set up and planned down to the tiniest details. Keep in mind that a strategy is where you’re headed and not how to get there. Here are some tips with you on how to start planning for social media marketing and what you should consider before starting.
1. Why do you want to use social media?
The first step to an effective social media marketing strategy is to establish your goals. It may seem simple and straightforward, but trust me when I say it is essential for all types of things such as social media marketing, website design and development in Los Angeles, where everyone is trying to achieve an online presence. Whenever setting a goal, you must make sure it is SMART.
Setting unrealistic goals is a common mistake in any area. It may seem motivating at first but can be very damaging. If your time frame is over and you haven’t reached your goal, you are likely to get demotivated and lose hope, leading to the ruin of everything you have achieved. It is better to appreciate even the smaller steps then go for something unattainable. Your goals must also have a deadline, or else they will seem ambiguous, and you won’t realize whether you’re moving forward or falling behind. This is a list of goals I find to be relevant to most people who are planning to use social media for marketing. Increase brand awareness
- Drive traffic to the website
- Create new leads
- Grow your revenue (by increasing sales or clicks)
- Boost brand engagement
- Build a community
- Provide social customer service
- Increase mentions in the press/media
- Be aware of the conversations about your brand/site
Your goals should concern a few areas. Of course, one of the reasons to do this is to increase revenue and sales of a product or a service you’re providing. But, social media marketing should also be somewhat customer based. It should be a space where people can interact with each other concerning your product/service, let others know what they appreciate about it, and help build a community of people who have one thing in common, usage of what you offer.
2. Who is your target audience?
Take some time to imagine what an average customer will look like, imagine their habits and their consumption patterns. A fun activity to do is build marketing personas. A marketing persona is a “sketch” of a critical segment of your audience or the audience you hope to attract with what you offer. For content marketing, you will need these personas to help you provide content that will be most relevant and attractive to your audience. The personas you create should include the basics such as age, gender, salary, location (rural/suburban/urban), and education. Then you should continue by adding their primary and secondary goals and what you will do to help achieve these goals, followed by common objections and challenges during the sales process and what values will get in the way. Some additional details should also be added depending on the type of product you are going to offer, such as hobbies, real quotes from interviews, what social media they use, what blogs they read, and so on. If you get stuck, try forming questions and answering them, such as what are they interested in that you can provide? (entertainment, educational content, news), why do they consume this content? (to get better at their job, to be healthy, to stay up to date).
Now comes the hard part, forming a small elevator pitch. This should be 1-3 sentences and should focus on selling your product or service to this specific person you have created, and must be based on what you have written down.
3. What will you share?
I know that once you see this question, you might be thinking about types of content you are going to share like photos or videos, but this is more about the bigger picture. Try to research and choose a “theme” for your page that will match the message you are trying to get across. Are you going to post HD photos of your products, or are you going to opt for posting customer submitted pictures? Maybe you think it’s better if you post memes or funny content or maybe reviews. This is where a great understanding of your target audience and your marketing personas will be helpful. Look at your research and try to understand what goals and challenges your consumers have and how you can help solve them. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to limit yourself to one theme or content type. Lots of marketing agencies in Los Angeles find that using a handful of themes is actually more effective and engaging. But, all must be done in moderation, as not to seem messy or overwhelming. If there are too many types of content on your page, new customers will think it unprofessional and won’t check out your products. There are a few types of strategies for handling the types of content you put out. For example, posting 50% of content that will drive traffic back to you, 25% of the content from other sources, 20% of content that will support enterprise goals, and 5% about HR and the culture of the company. If you are new into social media marketing and think this is too much or sounds complicated, you can try the easy 80-20 rule, which is 80 percent of informing, educating, or entertaining posts and 20 percent direct brand promotion. You can try these out and see which you find best. A great example of mixed content and effective social media marketing is the Instagram page of the makeup brand Fenty Beauty established by Rihanna. It includes HD photos of their cosmetic products and photos of celebrities wearing Fenty makeup. But, it also includes very frequent posts of customers using the products. This not only makes the average consumer feel involved in the process and appreciated, but it also encourages other consumers to post videos or photos of themselves using the products in the hopes of being featured on the official page, which indirectly further promotes the product.
Another vital aspect is choosing the personality of the face you will be using on social media. Will you be replying to comments in a sarcastic tone or a kind tone? You must choose a specific “persona” and keep it consistent. Everyone knows about the famous Wendy’s twitter account that interacts with customers asking for free food and even competing fast food social media accounts. In fact, their sarcastic and shady comments gained so much publicity that their sales multiplied.
4. Where will you share?
Now you are going to choose which social media platform you will be using. Remember, more is not always merrier. It is not important to be everywhere, all at once. A much better strategy is choosing one or two platforms and putting out consistent, high-quality content than posting everywhere to no avail. While you keep this in mind, you should also have a presence on the big 4 of social media, which is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You should post once in a while, and keep your information updated, as these are usually what will come up first if the name of your company is searched online. Try to use this to your advantage by making the consumer end up on the social media platform you are most active on.
Choosing your platform once again depends on your marketing personas and consumer profiles. Take some time to research your target audience and their social media usage. For example, most younger people I know prefer using Instagram. Other people usually use twitter for staying up to date with the recent news and would prefer seeing targeted content on Facebook. This is highly specific, and there is no general rule, so look-up studies and analytics by age groups, genders, incomes, and so on.
5. When will you share it?
This is a commonly overlooked step in website design and social media marketing in Los Angeles. Once again, it is essential that you know your target audience and their habits. Kids and teens tend to not go on social media during school and only go on after school, which is in the afternoon and the peak time of seeing your content. Sports fans will go online right before and during a sporting event to interact with other fans and find relevant information concerning the game. Mothers go on social media in the middle of the night when their child has awakened them, and they can’t go back to sleep, or they are feeding the child. Travel enthusiasts tend to go on social media during late evenings when their hotel has wifi, or on weekends when they are planning their next trip. As you can see, it is highly variable from person to person and should be researched. Once you figure this out, set up a calendar with reminders, and stick to it with no exceptions.
6. Who else is there?
Catch up with your competitors. Try to check out comments and reviews and figure out what they are doing wrong and what they are doing right. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” There isn’t any point in starting from scratch and wasting time on obstacles that could have been non-existent if you had done a little more research. Many companies have been around for years and have mastered the art of social media marketing, and if you dig a little deep you can find all their downfalls and analysis on their mistakes if you spot any shortcomings, such as the absence of a feature that the audience demands, try to fill it. By doing this, you can also find out what to expect, so there will be no surprises once you start.
7. Are you doing it?
This is a step that you should be doing after following this guide for a few months. Now, it is time that you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Review all current analytics and reviews. Figure out what is working and what isn’t not. Which posts are getting higher engagement, and the reason behind it is the content or the time that it is posted at. Look at the engagements and if the comments are positive or negative. Is your target audience who you expected it to be, or do you need to tweak your settings for a new audience? Are you reaching your audience at all, or are you being met with a brick wall? These are only some of the observations you should be making, and if something isn’t working out, try looking at competitors’ sites, researching more, or redoing something to make your content ideal.