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Some great tips from WebMarketingToday on how to get your social media marketing started:

Many small business owners ask me for a plan before starting up on social media marketing. They wonder if I have a “cheat sheet” that I use.

The answer is yes. I use a cheat sheet of sorts. This article describes what I do before I start any social media marketing presence with a client.

Before you launch a social media program, consider your time and resources. Social media marketing is a hungry animal; it needs to be continually fed. It demands substantial time in planning and everyday engagement to gain traction and momentum. As a small business owner, time is a valuable resource and if you cannot take this on, you will likely have to hire someone (full or part time), or outsource this. Spending 10 minutes a day will likely not cut it, no matter what anybody tells you.

Here’s a skeleton plan to prepare you to launch your social media presence.

1. Determine Your Ideal Customer

  • Describe your target customer. Age, gender, location, education, income — anything that applies. You would be surprised how many companies have not done this.
  • Find your target customer online. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or specific online communities.

2. Identify Your Competitors

  • List out your competitors.
  • Check out your competitors’ social media profiles and what they are doing with them.

3. Find the Best Social Media Channel for your Business

  • Determine the top channels for your business from the information gathered above. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, SlideShare, Yelp.
  • Do not spread yourself too thin. It’s better to have a strong consistent presence on one channel than a weak, inconsistent presence on two or more.

4. Choose Appropriate Keywords

  • Your keywords and keywords phrases are vital to keep you focused on your business.
  • Pick 5 to 7 keywords or keyword phrases that best describe your business, services, and products.
  • Pick 5 to 7 primary keywords or keyword phrases that people are searching on in your industry. To do this, start typing in the Google search bar in your browser and see the suggestions from those searches.
  • Check keyword volume on these keywords at the Google AdWords tool. It’s free.

Optimize your website and your social media profiles — including your tweets, Facebook posts, blogs — by using these keywords. This will greatly help your search engine optimization efforts.

Screenshot of Google AdWords keyword tool.

The Google AdWords keyword tool can help determine related keywords and keyword phrases that consumers search for.

5. Use Compelling Content

Generating consistently compelling content is key to your social media presence and gaining Fans and followers. It takes time, effort, and requires tapping into your expertise and resources. Develop a content calendar to help you achieve this.

6. Listen Carefully

Tap into online conversations to find out who’s talking about you, what they are saying about you, your company, and your industry. This will help determine what people are interested in. Here are some free sites I use for this.

SocialMention.com screenshot.

Sites like SocialMention.com can help identify mentions of your company, your competitors, and your industry.

7. Establish Social Media Profiles

Set up your social media profiles on your targeted channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest or Yelp. Make sure your profiles are filled in entirely — and to the maximum. Use your keywords. Make sure people can contact you easily with an email address and phone numbers.

8. Track Results

Make time in your social media marketing to track progress and see what is working.  Monitor the following key metrics.

  • Number of followers and user engagement. This includes comments, emails, phone calls, and sales.
  • Comments from consumers. Analyze content and sentiment of consumer feedback to determine how customers feel about your products and company.
  • Time spent. Measuring the amount of time users are engaged with your social media efforts. This equates to attention.
  • Website analytics. Track the traffic increase to your website.

Summary

Let people know that you are listening, engaging, helping, and offering solutions. Authenticity and transparency are huge aspects of social media. Be yourself.

This plan may seem like a lot. But the more you can accomplish from this list, the better your results will be.

Editor’s Note: We welcome Yasmin Bendror as our newest contributor. She is founder and president ofYMarketingMatters.com, a N.Y.-based social media marketing firm. Her first piece, below, identifies how to organize and approach a new social media marketing campaign.

Yasmin Bendror’s profile. >

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