When you are just starting out with social media marketing, you may be tempted to jump in and start posting, tweeting, and sharing like a social media marketing machine. Many people are so excited to get started they include the top 3 or 4 platforms in their social media marketing mix from day one. This is both time consuming and potentially budget consuming. It’s also not the best way to proceed. Social media marketing is like a double-edged sword – it is something that needs to be wielded correctly. In the hands of a skilled marketer, it is an effective sales tool. But in the hands of an amateur, it can turn success into demise. The best way to get started (or perhaps re-start) with social media marketing is to proceed slowly with a well thought out plan of action.
Start with a plan. Getting started without a plan can lead to a messy start. This will not be good for your reputation. So before you dive into social media, make sure that you planned for your content and how you will design profiles. Clearly state (and write down) your goals, objectives and milestones. Having a social media plan in place will optimize your use of resources (both time and money) in achieving your goals. With goals and objectives in place, you can focus on the future while working on today.
Create an editorial calendar. You may have plenty of ideas you want to share. But if you post all of them at the same time, people will get confused. Also, you will be surprised how quickly you run out of things to share. So make a timeline and plan which topics you want to post first and which ones should follow in a chronological order. If you know your destination and the best way to reach it, you can easily get back on track when you get side tracked (and you will). If you need a template to get started, there are many available on line and a google search will provide a variety of options. One of my favorites is from Hubspot.
Know your target niche. Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites according to Pew Research. However, you don’t really want to reach to all of them. You need to focus on a group of people which are ‘potential customers’. Engage in some market research to give you a clear understanding of your target client. The goal of market research is to create a profile of an imaginary person who is your perfect customer. The profile has to be as complete as possible. It should include not only demographic and geographic information, but also how they feel about things. This is called psychographic data and it’s equally important. Psychographic information includes things like how people in your market see themselves, how they use your products, what they’re most afraid of, what they hope for in the future, and so on. Some businesses even give this imaginary person a name, like Fred or Simone. You have to know the people in your niche perfectly so that you can connect with them through social media. (Learn more about identifying your target market here.)
Next, choose a social media site that is popular in your niche. You want people to view your social media site, especially your target market niche. How do you find out where your audience is on social media? A good place to start is the Pew Research Internet Project. Their Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms will give you a good indicator of where your audience is spending their online time. (Learn more.) Using the basics you find there, do some market research of your own. Visit the social media platforms you think your audience prefers and find them. A simple search for your keywords will confirm if you have chosen the right platform.
Consider using multiple social media sites carefully. You don’t want to stretch yourself to thin. Start out with one or two sites and go deep rather than wide. Build your following and reputation on those sites and venture into other platforms later.
Now that you know who you want to reach, where they are on social media and how you are going to get their attention, consider your moniker on social media. You don’t want people to confuse you for another organization, group, or individual. In the movie Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy, there is a spot-on example of brand confusion albeit intended. The fast food restaurant where the main character gets a job is and even has Golden Arcs.
Take time to check for a possibly existing account with a similar name. You don’t know how these other accounts are behaving and anything they do might have implications on your company’s image. Try using knowem.com to create a unique moniker. If you found out that there are already existing accounts with a similar name or a mockingly similar name, knowem.com will help you come up with an alternative.
Know how to attract your target audience. Do you already have a clear vision of who your target client is? The next thing you need to figure out is how you can lure them in. Find out what they are interested in. One of the best ways to do this, is to be the “fly on the wall” and listen to them. Once you find where your target market is talking, settle in to listen. They’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to connect them to products and services they need. The detailed profiles on social media sites make them ideal for market research. Read your customer’s profiles and find out what other interests they have. This is a great source of in-depth information such as what they think about current events, or how they use the products and services they buy.
Social media is not a marketing method you should jump into without prior planning and research. However, it is well worth your time. Get started building your social brand now.