Handling Social Overload: How to Create a Sustainable Social Media Marketing Plan
In 2015, the social media scheduling tool Buffer publicly blogged about how they had lost over half of their social referral traffic since the previous year.
That type of announcement from a major player in social media can send shockwaves throughout the small business and blogging community. But it’s really an opportunity for small business owners and bloggers alike to take pause and figure out what’s working – and what’s not – in their own social media efforts.
The reality these days is that it’s easy for small businesses to get lost in the overload of social media marketing. Twitter. Facebook. Snapchat. Instagram. LinkedIn. Pinterest. And then there are all the social media channels that aren’t even on your radar, like WeChat – not to mention, the pressure from the forty-percent of Americans say it’s important that the institutions they engage with have a strong social media presence.
The pressure to grow your social media presence is intense – and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media, you’re not alone. But at the same time, being everywhere on social media – trying to be all things to everyone – leads to burnout and overload. Stretching yourself thin without a social media marketing plan isn’t an effective way to find new leads, convert customers or create a loyal audience.
Instead, let’s look together at how to create a sustainable social media marketing plan – without getting overloaded. Even if you haven’t been really active on social media yet, take this as an opportunity to start your social media marketing plan with a clean slate and building an engaged following from scratch.
Assess Your Starting Point
Before you dive head-first into creating a sustainable social media marketing plan, you need to stop and assess where things stand.
Log into your existing accounts and review your followers, how often you’re posting content, and if anyone is responding or liking what you’re putting out there. Make notes of any content that was shared more than others, as well as any articles or updates that fell flat. You should start to see patterns demonstrating which channels resonate with your brand and audience, and which are sending mixed results your way.
Stay organized by setting up a spreadsheet to keep track of your social media channels, the number of followers and fans, and any notes to record.
Pick and Choose Your Channels
The good news about creating a sustainable social marketing plan is that you don’t have to be everywhere. Instead, it’s to your benefit to pick and choose channels based on where your target market or audience is the most active.
Don’t hop onto Snapchat and try to build a following if you’re targeting 30 to 64-year-old CEOs. Go to LinkedIn instead – 61% of users fall within this age group. Meanwhile, bloggers and businesses targeting 18 to 29 year-old women who love trendy clothing will thrive and find their following on Instagram.
If you’re not quite sure where to start – try looking to see where your competitors are hanging out. Chances are high that your audience is on Facebook, for example, if your competitors have large, engaged Facebook Pages and regularly update their content.
Set Your Objectives
Set clear objectives from the start about your social media marketing plan. Using social media to engage customers with the goal of converting them into paying customers for a product will look a lot different than trying to drive traffic to your business blog. Outline clear objectives for each social media channel you’re planning to use.
Once you’ve figured out your objectives, you can better shape your plan. Using social media to drive engagement and sales could require posting more case studies or tutorials on how to use your product. Meanwhile, engaging people so they read your blog and subscribe requires posting engaging articles, videos or infographics that help serve your audience.
Use the Right Tools
Trying to post to multiple social media networks by hand leads to instant overwhelm, making it likely to fall to the wayside. You can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by starting out with the right tools to manage your social media campaigns.
Buffer and Hootsuite are both user-friendly tools that schedule out posts to multiple channels including Twitter and Facebook. Once you set them up, they automatically deploy social updates at the time of your choosing. At the same time, Meet Edgar can schedule and recycle posts from different categories you set up, as well as figure out the best time to post them.
It’s even possible to add team members to your social media scheduling tools, if you have multiple people helping with your social profiles.
Get everyone on board for a training session and figure out who will be responsible for posting which content. Then get to work on creating consistent social media posts for your chosen networks that include fantastic content, visuals, and overall value. It’s also smart to set aside a few hours a month or quarter to brush up on best practices on the social media platforms you’re using, and to discover new widgets to spruce up your social media pages. You might uncover new trends and get inspired to try something different.
Focus on Engagement
At the end of the day, a sustainable and sound social media plan is all about ongoing engagement – not about collecting followers and fans. Smart Insights makes a good point that you don’t really own your Twitter followers – Twitter does. When you leave Twitter, your followers stay there (unless you’ve gotten them to subscribe to your list).
That’s why your social media marketing plan should focus on acquiring someone’s attention span by engaging with them. This can keep them coming back for more from your social media channels – and your business – over and over again. Start the engagement process by posting interesting content, comment on their posts, participate in Twitter chats and be present and available. In time, the value of these individual engagements will add up.
Keep It Organic
There’s no shortcut to growing an engaged and loyal social media following, or growth hacking your way to social success. It takes real time to cultivate your following. A contest might drive a temporary spike and draw a handful of followers, but you’re likely to lose those followers once the promotion is over
Focus on organic growth that aligns with your brand’s authenticity. If you run a travel gadget store, concentrate on engaging with fellow travelers and gadget junkies on the social media channels where they hang-out on most. Share valuable insights and get involved in their online conversations and post your best content. Over time, the followers you acquire organically are the ones that will stick and spread the word.
Embrace the 80/20 Rule
Posting about yourself, products and business nonstop is a recipe for disaster. People are likely to unfollow your social media accounts in droves to escape the nonstop self-promotion.
Instead, follow the 80/20 rule that dictates 80 percent of your content should focus on sharing other people’s content, making connections, being personal, talking about your fantastic employees and sharing photos. The other 20% can focus on sales-related content. Think about the channels you like to follow. Are they nonstop ads for products and services? It’s more likely that the pages you enjoy engage, entertain and educate and keep you coming back for more.
Measure Your Results
Your social media marketing strategy won’t mean much without actually measuring your results and looking at your social media ROI. Otherwise you’ll never know if you’re resonating with your core followers on Twitter and driving ultimate engagement, or if Snapchat is where you’re getting the most results
Take time to measure how many new fans and followers you’re getting, as well as the number of interactions you have with them. Next, look at your website analytics, or your Google Analytics integration, to see which social networks your traffic is coming from.
There are endless ways to measure results, but when you’re starting out, it’s important to keep it relatively simple and straightforward. You don’t need to weed through a sea of spreadsheets and analytics as you’re getting your social media marketing plan up and running. Just take a few minutes a week to see where you’re getting the most traction and make small, incremental results. Set aside more time once a month to review what’s working and what’s not to adjust your tactics.
Engage Your Followers with Sustainable Social Media
Social media should reflect the authenticity of your brand, communicate your voice, and forge a connection to your audience or ideal target market. It’s impossible to be all things to everyone, but you can use social media platforms to speak to those who want to listen and embrace your messaging.
At the end of the day, focus on relationship building and consistency to create a sustainable social media marketing plan that keeps your business growing.
What are your favorite tips for creating a sustainable social media marketing plan? Let us know by leaving a comment below