How To Build A Social Media Marketing Strategy

social media marketing strategy

Have you ever wished someone would just give you directions for how to go from wanting to leverage social media for your brand to actually leveraging social media for your brand?

Do you feel like you know what you hope to accomplish but just don’t know how to begin a strategic social media marketing planning process to get you there?

Well today you’re in luck.

I’m going to give you a simple four-part marketing planning framework that will not only get you started but make sure you develop strategically focused, integrated social media marketing programs.

The Social Media Planning Blueprint

Social Media planning and pretty much all marketing planning can be drilled down to successfully answering four key questions. You’ll need to understand:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What do you need to say to them?
  • Where are they likely to listen?
  • What do you want them to do next?

You’ll also want to understand how much a social marketing program should cost and how long a social media program should take to show results. But I’ve covered that here already (and Mack Collier covered the cost issue), so today, let’s take each of these questions individually.

Defining Your Buyer Personas

Who are you talking to?

Any good content marketer or advertising executive will tell you that it is imperative to know your target audience. Normally target audience definitions include standard demographic information like sex, geography, household income, family size, marital status, etc. If you have access to the information, media consumption is also looked at and factored into the final target audience definition.

But you need to go beyond demographics. You need to think about your audience in psychographic terms. Spend a bit of time reading books like The Hero and The Outlaw, that dives into the idea of using Archetypes to better define your target audience’s key motivations.

Lastly, resist the urge to create large, traditional target audience definitions like Adults 25-54… that’s not a target audience, that’s a family reunion. There is almost nothing that a 25 year old male has in common with a 54 year old female… is there?

Creating A Content Marketing Strategy

What do you need to say?

This is where really detailed audience definition and buyer personas lead to strategically smart content. Again, you’ll hear content marketing strategists tell you to use things like Google Key Word tools and such to find the most searched key words to drive traffic, but while important, that’s not what I’m speaking of here.

When you think through your content marketing strategy, you need to understand what kind of buyer(s) you’re dealing with if you hope to move them from consideration to sale. For instance, if the buyer is motivated by prestige, they’ll need to hear a very different message than if they are motivated by knowledge.

It’s just not enough to hook them with the right keyword bait, you have to reel them in with the most properly positioned messages.

Selecting Your Communication Channels

Where will your prospect be willing to listen to you?

Just because your prospect is a big Facebook user, that doesn’t mean that they really want to hear from you on Facebook. Far too often social media consultants don’t look past the numbers. They see a huge grouping of eyeballs and “active profile” stats and assume that means the social network associated with these large traffic numbers is appropriate or required for your social media plan.

It’s not. In fact, the only way you’ll know for sure that your customer wants you to converse with them on a particular platform is to ask them. Luckily for you, today’s online survey tools are easy and fast… which means you just need to find a company to help you design the marketing research tool.

If you haven’t yet done this kind of research, you should. The outputs can really surprise you and often run counter to what “everyone assumes” is the right way to reach out online to your target audience.

Defining Your Social Marketing Lead Funnels

Once a prospect visits you or your content, what do you want them to do next?

Social Media Marketing is like dropping breadcrumbs. And just like Hansel and Gretel dropped breadcrumbs to help them find their way back home, you’ll be dropping breadcrumbs to help your prospect find his or her way to your house, white paper, presentation, trade show booth or conversion form or meeting.

Again, it’s not enough to put out a great piece of content, you have to figure out where you want the prospect to go next and more importantly, where they are willing to go next. Then you need to give them that next breadcrumb and encourage them to take one more little step towards doing business with you.

And to make matters even more complex, you have to look at how mobile is changing marketing and social media and content marketing in particular.

But don’t plan this on the fly. You owe it to yourself to take the time to logically and systematically plan an information architecture approach that creates a pathway from any piece of content to your ultimate goal. And remember, there won’t be just one path — no, humans are complicated — so you’ll want to build in multiple content branches that let a prospect find their way along the path they prefer, eating breadcrumbs in the pattern they like the most.

What Do You Do Next?

If you feel like you’re ready — get your team together and begin the process of developing your social media marketing blueprint. Feel free to use any of the tools and suggestions I’ve noted here or linked to from within the post. After all – that’s what you’re here for — actionable information right?

But if after reading through this post you’re feeling like you need a partner to help develop all of this strategic work and then assist you and your team in launching your social media marketing program — Give Me a Call. I’m always looking for interesting new clients and projects.

So what do you think? Was this helpful? If so, I’d love if you’d be kind enough to share it with your friends using any of the button below. And I’d really like to know what you found valuable in this post — so maybe take a second to let me know via a comment here on the post?

And if the post created more questions in your mind, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets that helps digitally challenged companies create innovative and effective digital marketing strategies. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Connect with him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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