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  • How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    Setting Your Objectives

    What are your goals for social media? Unlike many other forms of marketing, companies often begin social media marketing with broad statements, such as “Let’s start a blog,” or “Let’s get on Twitter and Facebook.”

    But those are solutions, not objectives. Without clear objectives, you can’t expect to be successful at establishing an effective social media presence.

    According to an Awareness Inc. survey of 469 marketers, the top marketing goals for social media include:

    • Increasing customer engagement (78%)
    • Generating more revenue (51%)
    • Improving the customer experience (47%)
    • Positioning the company as a thought leader (41%)

    Customer engagement requires that you participate by actively listening to what people are saying about your brand on social sites and then responding in ways that prove you value conversation with prospects and customers. It is not merely pushing out standard marketing information.

    Revenue generation could be one of your objectives, but in many cases social media will provide leads, but not necessarily direct sales. One way to view social media is as an extensive public relations initiative, which usually doesn’t lead to direct sales.

    Improving the customer experience means providing support. By monitoring social media comments, you can quickly respond to support issues or problems with your products and services. This demonstrates that you care about the customer experience and maintaining a high quality of service and support.

    Thought leadership can position your business not only as a provider of goods and services, but as a recognized authority in your industry—demonstrating that your company and key executives can offer unique insights customers and prospects won’t find anywhere else.

    Whatever objectives you adopt, be sure they conform to the SMART framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed—and represents a valuable approach to setting objectives:

    • Specific. Goals such as “increase ROI” are too general. Set specific objectives such as “increase ROI by 15%.”
    • Measurable. You can’t determine whether your goals have been met unless you have a way to evaluate your performance and improvement against baseline measures.
    • Achievable. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to meet unreasonable objectives. You probably can’t, for example, expect to increase sales by 300% within 30 days, so be sure to set goals that are reasonably achievable.
    • Realistic. Social media will require that you dedicate a significant amount of your team’s time to deploy your plan. If you don’t have the resources available to meet your goals, it’s highly unlikely you’ll achieve them.
    • Timed. Your objectives should be set against a reasonable timetable. If there’s no tangible timeline for initiating your social media plan, you will likely face delays and that could make it difficult, if not impossible, to meet your objectives.

    One more thing to remember about objectives: Try to avoid focusing on the number of followers, “likes” and “retweets” you receive Engagement with your customers and prospects is far more meaningful – strive for strong engagement metrics, like “time on site,” “page views” and “click throughs.” If you’re patient and you create an effective strategic plan, you’ll gradually grow a significant social media community presence over time.

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    • Work with your entire organization to determine the most important objectives for your social media plan.
    • Make sure your objectives conform to the “SMART” framework. This small business feature from the Houston Chronicle offers more details.
    • Read this article from Social Media Today on the dangers of failing to create a social media plan.
    • Review this article from TDK technologies for more specific ideas on setting social media goals.
    • Read this Microsoft Medium Business blog post for more information on defining social media objectives.