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  • How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    Selecting Social Media Sites

    There are plenty of social media sites. The main ones include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, but there are others you may wish to consider based on your audience and objectives.

    Here’s an overview of some of the major social media sites:

    • Facebook began as a site for college students, but is now open to anyone aged 13 or older. Businesses can maintain Facebook pages to promote their companies and communicate news about industry trends. With more than one billion users, Facebook can be an excellent site for small businesses.
    • Twitter Allows for the rapid spread of news and information among its 200 million users. On Twitter, you send “tweets” to your followers who may “retweet” your tweets to their followers. A tweet is a message comprised of no more than 140 characters and you can include a link. On Twitter, the use of “hashtags” (for example #marketing) allows you to see what topics are trending and search for items of interest.
    • LinkedIn is built around establishing professional connections. One way to make new connections is to join topic-oriented groups and post information. LinkedIn also lets you create a company page for your business, which members can “follow.” With more than 200 million users, LinkedIn represents an excellent business-to-business social media site, but the potential to reach consumers is limited.
    • Google+ can be used to reach both consumer and business audiences. To follow others in Google+, you add them to your “circles.” There are additional features such as communities and “hangouts,” where people meet to discuss specific topics. Google+ has about 350 million users, and because the site is run by Google, participating may improve your search engine ranking.
    • Pinterest is a visually oriented social media site with about 70 million users. On Pinterest, people share “pinboards” with visuals tagged by various keywords. Text communications aren’t really suitable for Pinterest. However, if your business can provide visually oriented content, such as pictures of your clothing line, meals that can be prepared using your cookware, and so on, this site can be a good place to post such images.
    • YouTube, with over 1 billion users, is built around videos, so if you have video content, this is an excellent place to post it, such as videos on how to use your product, tutorials, demonstrations, and so on. You can create YouTube “channels,” and gain subscribers to those channels.
    • Yelp began as a consumer review site, but has evolved into an impressive platform with 60 million registered users. Yelp can help you promote your business, especially if your company serves a specific local area. You can now post events, reminders, photo galleries, and links to your website. It’s important to monitor reviews in order to quickly (and politely) address any feedback. Positive reviews can be helpful in promoting your business, whereas negative reviews can be valuable in demonstrating your commitment to improving your business. Plus, you can read competitor’s reviews to research your market.
    • Industry-specific sites can help you establish a presence in highly specific market sectors. For example, Care2 caters to those interested in health-related issues, Social Moms covers parenting, but also health, food, crafts, and more. Communities that serve pet owners include Catster and Dogster. And UrbanSpoon and MenuPages are widely used in discussing local restaurants.

    In the business-to-business sector, communities such as Lawyrs (for attorneys), Architizer (for architects), Glozal (for real estate professionals), and BuilderLink (for construction professionals and building product manufacturers) are examples of niche sites that can add value to your social media presence.

    There are other social media sites, including Vine, Instagram, and Flickr. But Facebook and Twitter are probably the best sites on which to begin a social media presence. LinkedIn is an appropriate site for business-to-business content, and Yelp is suitable for locally oriented companies.

    Just remember that it would take a lot of time and effort to maintain a presence on all of these sites, so select the sites that best suit your strategy and goals.

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    • Spend some time on each site you are considering to understand how it works and what type of content is most appropriate.
    • Find niche industry and market-specific sites on lists from Traffikd and Genius Startup, each of which identifies dozens of sites that cater to highly specific audiences.
    • Review this Pew Internet Research Project fact sheet and article for information on social media site statistics and demographics.
    • Check out infographics from Mashable and SproutSocial that present the Pew Internet Research data in an easy-to-follow visual format.
    • Decide when to post. Entrepreneur magazine has published a list (and infographic) of the best (and worst) times to post on various social media sites.