I’ve written several posts this year that explain how to use some of social media’s most popular functions. I’ve concentrated on Facebook and Twitter because they trend as some of the most popular social media sites in the world. While knowing how to use these sites is helpful, putting them to good use can be an entirely different proposition.
Similar to a business and its business plan, when you decide to start using social media to market your brand, you should also have a social media plan in place.
If you’re stuck on how to develop and integrate a social media plan, I’ve laid out five easy steps to get you up and running in no time at all.
Step 1. Alerts and Analytics. You’ll want to begin this R&D phase of your plan by checking your analytics, specifically, your keyword content. Keywords are not solely responsible for driving traffic to your site; however, they are a good indicator of what is leading people to your site. Once you’ve narrowed down your top 5-10 keywords and phrases, create email alerts with these words or phrases as topics. The alerts will keep you up to date on any online chatter taking place about your topics. Be sure you’ve also set up an “ego” feed to alert you whenever your site or url have been referenced on another site.
Step 2. Check out the competition to determine how you will use social media. Head on to Twitter, Facebook and any other social media sites you’re considering so you can see what your competitors are doing. Be sure to observe the frequency of their posts or updates, any discounts they offer as well as how they’re communicating with their followers or fans. Do you want to follow a similar track? Will you use social media strictly as a marketing vehicle — talking about upcoming promotions or discounts — or will you use it to communicate with current or future customers?
Step 3. Create your accounts and promote the heck out of them. Once you’ve done your competitive analysis, factored in your keywords, and have seen the online chatter, you should feel comfortable enough to set up your accounts and start talking. “Talking” can be as simple as a “Hi, this is our website and this is what we do” or “Have you seen this great article on how to use ornaments all year round?” or even a “Welcome to our Facebook Page, Did you know we’re also on Twitter and we have a blog too?”. Once you have your accounts set up and conversations started, make sure you’re letting people know you’ve got a presence there. Facebook and Twitter both have badges and widgets you can add to your site. If you’re sending out electronic alerts, make sure you’ve added your Facebook and Twitter profiles to them as well. You want to make your presence known so others will follow and friend you, thereby increasing the odds of new customers.
Step 4. Launch a social media-based promotion. One of the best ways to see if your social media plan is working is to launch a social media-based promotion. Once your social media sites have been running smoothly for a few days (or weeks, however long is comfortable for you), begin to use your new friends and followers as a means to make a sale. Offer a Facebook friends discount or do a Twitter promotion and watch to see if anything converts to a sale. If it does, then you’ve witnessed your first social media marketing ROI. Not sure what to discount? Check back to your keywords to see what trends high for you. That’s what you should be promoting.
Step 5. Review and revisit your social media plan often. Don’t rest on your laurels once you’ve converted a social media promotion into a sale. Continue to review your analytics to see how much traffic you’re getting from your social media efforts. Make sure you also don’t drop off the face of the social media earth once you’ve landed a sale. Keep the conversations going and continue to promote and review your progress.