This article is guest posted by Jack Harold.
Formulating an online marketing strategy is vital when making the decision to include social media to your marketing efforts. A plan is required to evaluate the feasibility, know what steps you will have to take and to assist you in staying focused on your goals.
As a solopreneur or small business owner, you might be interested in using social media as a means to promote your business or ideas, stay connected with your potential customers and create more traction around your business. Probably you already have accounts on various social networking platforms where you share about your products and services. But do you have a plan?
When it comes to online marketing, there are no magic bullets. None. More specifically, there is no cookie cutter approach to social media marketing. Your strategy will depend on your goals (i.e. SEO, PR, traffic), your audience and your resources. The social media trend will only get larger in this year and you will need to write a plan to steer your company in the right direction. Where do you start?
1. Paint The Big Picture
Start off your plan with a big picture of what the social media trend is going to be like in 2011. Certainly, there is a big shift away from the traditional print towards advertising on social media platforms. It is not hard to realize that the top sites in the Internet are mostly social media websites like Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress, as shown on Alexa.com. I have even heard of a saying that Facebook profiles are like belly buttons: everyone has got one! Perhaps that statement is a little too exaggerated but here’s the proof:
Are social media platforms, like Facebook, a bunch of amazing connective medium? I believe these statistics speak for themselves. Do these figures got you all hyped up that you want to plunge into marketing on social media platforms right away? I’m sure you want to!
2. Define Social Media
Because social media is such a nebulous thing for many, you need to put concise parameters on what it is. Social media is simply an online channel that has the amazing power to go viral. In the very least, it has the capability to engage your audience in meaningful conversations about your product, company and brand. There are blogs, forums, social networks, social bookmarking sites, social news sites, video and photo sharing sites, wikis etc. The question now is to ask yourself where you are going to market your product, company and brand among all the choices available.
3. Define Your Key Business Goals
What do you want to achieve at the end of the day? Not having any idea on why you are entering the social media space is suicidal. You can be wasting a lot of time, effort and money on board the social media ship without knowing what your final destination is. So the next step here will be to define your tangible business goals i.e. the goals that you can measure. These will include:
- Increase website traffic
- Improve search engine rankings
- More leads / sales
4. Set A Timeline of Steps To Follow
It will never be easy to plunge into any major project right from the start. You cannot expect a full-fledged social media marketing program running full-swing with the push of a magic button. Defining baby steps to take one at a time gets you in momentum to achieve the greater objectives. Think through on what your steps will be. These may include:
- Time required to set up your very own blog
- Time required to set up accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube for example
- Time required to familiarize yourself with the social media tools / platforms
- Time required on each social media platform to do some networking
- Time required to create content, such as posting on your own blog, making videos, podcasts etc
This will be a working plan that you will use week in week out. Feel free to make reasonable changes if you find that the plan needs some tweaking.
5. The Need For Resources
Getting this plan accomplished requires resources. You will need help with the how-tos and for that, you might want to ask your friends or seek some professional assistance. You might also need a certain budget, for example to setup your blog if you are looking for an exclusive blog design. You might even want to engage some freelancers or outsource the repetitive and tedious tasks to others. Services such as Freelancer and ODesk have become essential platforms for those doing social media marketing. There are literally millions of skilled people who are waiting to do your work and many can be hired at an absolute bargain.
6. Evaluate And Refine
Once you get started, you will want to review whether your plan so far is getting you the results. Take a look at your business goals that you set earlier and see how well they fare compared to the previous review period. Is there any progress? Is there anything that you have failed to take care of previously? Maybe it is time to refine your plan so as to improve on your results.
Probably you have something more that you would like to add or share. Feel free to comment below and I am always willing to learn from you!
As CEO of Affiliate Home Business, Jack Harold is an experienced Internet marketer and has helped thousands of his students to apply Internet marketing strategies to succeed online. If you will like to know how to make money online, you can grab a free copy of his exclusive “The Rags To Riches Blueprint” at his website, Affiliate Home Business.