Social media can be a good source of traffic for your website. You can use it for free, or pay for ads to speed things up. The one thing it definitely requires, however, is time. Done right, it’s more than worth the time. Done wrong, a time waster. You need a solid social media marketing plan to help you save time and do things right.
A social media marketing plan will help you decide what you want to do with your social media accounts. When do you post? What tools do you use? Who is looking at your social media posts anyhow? It’s time to start planning. Get things moving, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Step 1: Where Are You Now?
Before you can set goals, you need to know where you are now with your social media accounts. Which ones are already doing pretty well for you? Which ones need improvement? Are there any that really aren’t worth your time, at least for now?
Consider the overall look of your social media accounts. Are they consistent with your brand?
When you run a home business, you probably want a more personal look. Many home business owners use a photo of themselves for a profile photo. The best alternative is to use your logo, or something clearly based on it.
Create a spreadsheet of all your business social media accounts. I have a basic one here to get you started. Keep using this to track growth and to consider which networks are doing the most for your business.
If you’ve considered adding in another social media account, now is as good a time as any. Set up the basic account now. As you progress through making your social media marketing plan, you’ll get it set up properly.
Step 2: Check Out Your Competitors
You should also look at what your competitors are doing. Don’t stress too hard about their numbers, especially if they’ve been using social media a lot longer than you have. You won’t catch up overnight.
Look more at the kinds of things they share, images they use, and what they write. You aren’t going to copy them, but you can get some ideas as to what works for them. You can adapt some of these things to your own use. Many networks make it easy for you to see how many likes, comments, and shares some else’s posts have.
You don’t want to copy them, and you don’t want to steal from them. You only want to see the kind of content that does well in your niche. This will give you some ideas for things you can share that may also do well.
Step 3: Who Is Your Target Audience?
If you don’t know who you’re targeting, it’s very hard to figure out what you should be creating and sharing. This is something you should know for your home business in general, not just for your social media marketing plan. Still, it bears repeating. Know your target audience. This may include:
- Preferred social media networks
- What they need that you can provide
Step 4: What’s Your Purpose?
Whether you call it a mission statement or a purpose, know what you mean to use each social media account for. Some networks are better for interaction with potential customers and clients, for example. Others are better for driving traffic. Your purpose will guide your social media marketing plan.
In each case, decide how you can best use that network to help your customers and build your business. People are more likely to follow you on social media if they know what to expect from you. They love experts.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get a little personal. Being personal can be very good for a home business. It emphasizes that there’s a real person behind the account. Make sure that the personal side is also sufficiently professional, and not too offensive. It’s usually a good idea to stay away from controversial subjects such as religion and politics unless that’s what your website is about.
Step 5: What Is Social Media Success?
The success of your social media marketing plan can be hard to define. A huge following sounds wonderful, but what does it really get you? Traffic to your website is good, but only if it converts in some form. Sales and subscriptions are often your most important measures.
Shares are also important to measure because they go beyond the people following your account. Shares are what spread the word. You want people talking about what you share on social media, even if it wasn’t linked directly to your website. Shares that take people to your website are good, but ones that bring attention to your social media account can be a help as well.
Generally speaking, what happens on your social media account is only a part of the picture when you consider its success. It needs to have a positive impact on your business as a whole.
Step 6: Optimize Your Profiles
Your social media profiles aren’t only there for people to look at. They can help with the search engine optimization of your social media account. It should be clear that each account is associated with your website.
You should know what size images do best on each social network. Hootsuite has a good guide for this. Use the right size image for each of your profiles, and keep image sizes in mind for your posts. This is one time that size matters.
What works best for each network varies. Facebook, for example, has a lot of information you can fill out about your business. Pinterest has a fairly simple profile area, but you will also need to optimize each board, choosing good names and descriptions for each one.
Step 7: Follow Your Target Audience
Social media should be just that, social. If you want to know what your ideal customers like to see on social media, follow them, at least on the social networks that make this possible. Don’t follow random people on Facebook, for example.
Look for people who follow your competitors for a start. Follow them, and they might follow you. If they don’t, you can still see what they’re sharing, which gives you a better idea as to what they like.
Don’t spend a lot of time on unfollowing people who don’t follow you back. There are times when unfollowing people is a good idea, but that’s not because they aren’t following you. Unfollow because, for one reason or another, you don’t find their posts of interest to you anymore.
On sites such as Facebook, it’s easier to find your target audience in already established Facebook groups. Many will not allow you to post links back to your website or even your business’s Facebook page or group. You can learn a lot about your audience in these groups even when you can’t advertise directly. Watch your balance between wasting your time and learning.
Step 8: Plan Your Social Media Posts
It’s time to start planning out your social media posts. The style of posts will vary from site to site, as will the best number of posts per day. This is the largest part of your social media marketing plan.
Twitter and Pinterest, for example, are generally accepting of a large number of posts per day. Facebook and Instagram, not so much. Test how things go on your own account, however. Just because someone else says one post a day is enough on an account doesn’t mean they’re right for yours.
Over time, you will be testing your accounts to learn what times are best to post as well as how often. Coschedule has a good post on the best times to post on various social media websites. The times are based on the East Coast of the United States, and you may need to adjust based on where your target audience is located.
Quality should be a major focus when creating your posts. Don’t post any old thing just to fill a slot. The more interesting and/or useful your posts are to your audience, the better chance it will have of success.
Mix it up! Try using images, video, text posts, infographics, free products, links to specials, industry news, curated content, and so forth.
Don’t make it all about selling to your audience. Making money may be your goal, but that’s not what will build your following most of the time. Be interesting.
Step 9: Use A Scheduling Tool
I could not get by without scheduling my social media. I use Hootsuite. It allows me to schedule my social media for several different sites, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This makes it a lot easier to keep up on the job.
I also use the Revive Old Posts WordPress plugin. This automatically shares old posts from my blog. You can also tell it to skip certain categories and posts. That’s a big help when a blog post is seasonal or short term. You don’t want these things popping up in your social media when they aren’t relevant.
Step 10: Be Social
Don’t rely 100% on automation with your social media. It’s called social for a reason. Get on those sites. Like other posts. Share them. Comment. Interaction is key to many of these sites. It helps people see your account even if you have hardly any followers.
Step 11: Use Social Proof
I like using the Shareaholic plugin on my blog. Seeing that a lot of other people have shared a particular post can encourage other people to do likewise. You want to take advantage of the social proof this gives you.
Step 12: Review Your Results
Reviewing your social media results is an ongoing process. You can’t just do it once.
This is where you learn what worked and what didn’t. It’s not going to be as clear cut as whether you got sales out of a particular post.
Hootsuite’s analytics can give you a pretty good idea as to which posts worked best for you. Don’t assume that a post that didn’t go anywhere is a failure – it could also be the time of day you shared it, or something else happening in the world that kept people from noticing your post. A consistent failure of a particular type of post, of course, will be a good sign that something’s not right with it.
Also use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. People may be sharing your content on their social media directly from your site, which won’t show on Hootsuite. You might be surprised by things that catch on that you weren’t trying for.
You may find that you get the best interaction on your posts at different times than other people do. Pay attention to the results you get, not what other people say are good. Odds are that their target audience is somewhat different from yours. The results of others are a starting point, not a solid rule.
Can You Save Time On Your Social Media Marketing Plan?
All of this looks like a lot of work. That’s because it is. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to save time with your social media marketing plan.
Using a scheduling tool, as mentioned above, is vital. Your social media efforts will take too much of your work time otherwise. But there’s still more you can do.
I keep a spreadsheet of content I want to share regularly, for example. It’s set up so I can easily import it into Hootsuite. This greatly speeds things up for scheduling.
You will also want to keep a list of things you want to post in the future but haven’t created yet. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas all at once. Even if you can’t use them all right away, the idea is there, waiting for you until you’re ready for it.
Repurposing content is a big time saver as well. A blog post may be adapted into a video or podcast. You can make an image with particularly useful points from a post, and share it on your accounts. You can even change the image on your post to freshen it up.
One of the most important time savers with social media marketing is to plan when and how you are going to use it. Automation allows you to post even when you aren’t on the site, or even awake. Don’t spend too much of your working day on your social media once everything is scheduled out.
Fifteen minutes or so at a time is plenty to check your social media sites, interact as necessary, and get onto more productive things. Pick one or two times a day to check on your social media, and stick to your limits. The social media vortex can suck up too much of your time if you let it.
Reconsider What Isn’t Working In Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Just because you start using a social media site doesn’t mean you have to keep using it forever. If you find that it consistently fails to give you good results, ease up on it or leave it entirely. Your marketing energies should always be focused on things that work. The more time you spend on things that aren’t working, the less you have for the things that are.