5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself BEFORE Jumping into Social
I am always amazed by some people’s views on how to launch a social media marketing program. They assume no marketing plan is required to be successful. After all, social media is just a bunch of posts, tweets and shares, right? Ha!
No matter what you hope to achieve through social media, you need to start with a plan that aligns to your business objectives, reflects your brand and integrates with your Go-To-Market strategy and sales targets.
I’ve written many social media marketing plans for a number of clients and have discovered that the simplest way to build one is by answering these 5 key questions.
1. What are your goals for your social media marketing?
One obvious goal is to “make money”, but saying that is just not enough. Every goal you make must be S.M.A.R.T.
SPECIFIC: How much money? By when? How?
MEASURABLE: How will you track progress and measure the final result?
ACHIEVABLE: Stretch yourself, but be realistic on what you can achieve with the skills and resources you have.
RELEVANT: Your goal must make align with business objects, market dynamics, etc.
TIME BOUND: You need a deadline by which you can determine success or failure to achieve your goal.
Some goals are harder to measure (e.g. Brand awareness), but you can track changes in awareness from the beginning of your plan to the end. Use social media analytics to track # of fans and followers, retweets, mentions, @ replies, reach, klout, etc.
2. Who is your “ideal customer” in your market?
If you already have trial users, or better yet, paying customers, then you’ve got some good data already to help you develop a profile for your ideal customer in your target market. Start with those people who already know you and try to determine through Google Analytics or surveys:
- Their demographic and psycho-graphic data (where they live, age, gender, marital status, income, education level, occupation, values, hobbies, interests, lifestyle, etc.)
- Their favorite hang-outs online (e.g. blogs, social media sites, magazine/newspaper sites, etc.)
If you don’t have customers just yet, then you can make some assumptions based on the profile of your competitors’ customers. Just remember to refine that customer profile based on your unique differentiators.
And if you are really new to the market, there is often free industry data that can help you understand your target audience better. Just Google “demographic of a ____________” (fill in the blank with who you think your customer is — e.g. tablet owner, snow boarder, business traveler, golfer, news reader, etc.)
This target marketing analysis exercise will most likely result in too much data and you’ll need to segment it, but in the end you will be able to identify “your ideal customer” out of a group of potential candidates.
And it’s that ideal customer you need to focus on in your initial social media marketing efforts. Once you’ve captured that core audience’s interest, you can start to widen your target to include those with similar characteristics.
3. Who is your brand?
I know this sounds rather silly, but you’d be surprised how many business owners think their logo is their brand. And it’s so much more than that.
Your brand is your promise to your customers that extends beyond logos, tag lines and websites. It includes perceptions and expectations customers have of you, your products and the way you conduct business with them.
Think of your brand as a person and consider how you would introduce that person to a prospect who doesn’t know your brand. What would you say to the prospect to make them want to continue the relationship with your brand/persona?
Once you can describe your brand as a person, write down the key characteristics/messages/imagery you want your prospects/customers to remember about your brand and share with others they know. These will drive your conversations in your social networks.
4. Who else is in your market?
Here’s where you need to describe your:
- Potential alliances/partners
- Influencers (media, analysts, pundits, authors, “experts”, bloggers, celebrities, etc.)
As you did with your ideal customer, research where these companies/people hang out online (social media, forums, news sites, blogs, etc.), and rate them based on their level of influence in your market.
5. Does your website reflect your brand and the desires of your “perfect customer”? If not, then fix it.
Most businesses have a website, but many of them are designed like 1990 brochures – pushy, boring – anything but engaging. They might score high on search engine rankings because of great SEO, but when it comes to customer engagement, they suck.
So before you jump into social media and start sending people to your online home, make sure your website is social and mobile-friendly.
- Keep it simple and easy understand.
- Make sure it is consistent with your brand persona and messaging.
- Don’t talk at customers through your text – engage with them in conversation and help them navigate your site.
- Remember to add refreshing and engaging new content (Yes, you need a blog) on a regular basis to keep them coming back for more.
- And make sure you use responsive web design so your site performs perfectly across all platforms or you will miss out on the 60% of people that access the internet through their mobile devices and the 40% who participate in social media while on the move. (Source: PEW Research)
Once you’ve answered these 5 questions you have:
- Your S.M.A.R.T. goals documented
- Your target audience well-defined
- Your brand persona and voice refined
- Your competitors, influencers and potential partners identified
- Your social and mobile-friendly website launched
Now you’re ready to plan and execute your social media plan, which we’ll tackle in my next blog post. In the meantime, you have some homework to do to get ready for that.
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