There’s no question that having a social media presence is good for your business. Once a medium for entertainment and online socialization, social media is now one of the most common and effective marketing tools; leveling the playing field for emerging and established brands. It is responsible for building many businesses and for exponentially growing others.
It is, without a doubt, a great investment for your business to have a presence on social media for building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, allowing you to better understand and communicate with your audience, gain insight into your brand’s reputation, and to benchmark against your competition.
But prematurely investing in it can leave you frustrated and with a dent on your budget, or even worse, your sanity.
The following are five key areas that should be addressed before deciding to incorporate social media into your marketing strategy in order to maximize your investment. Because the platforms may be free, but the development of a strategy and the content needed to execute it well are most definitely not.
One // Business Plan
Monetizing social media platforms has become a goal for many entrepreneurs. So much so, that I’ve noticed a sudden rise in newly launched businesses created specifically for social media monetization. This is why having a solid business plan is the first key area to pay attention to before jumping into social media marketing.
Areas like your products or services, pricing strategy, the gap you’re filling in the market, your market and your competitors, your industry outlook, and a financial plan and projections should be addressed before launching any business endeavor. A marketing strategy can’t be developed without this information.
Yet at our agency we often come across prospective clients who are ready to join our roster, but do not have a business plan in place.
Two // Branding
Assuming you are not that client and you do have a viable business plan in place, undergoing brand strategy and design is the next key area to building a sensible marketing plan that’s destined to succeed.
Brand strategy will help you determine the core values your business is built on, identify your ideal client, discover your unique value proposition, and figure out the market positioning your brand needs to support its business plan.
The above come together as unified messaging through brand strategy and brand design creates a visual identity to represent it all.
This messaging and visual identity serve as a guide to create a content marketing strategy, part of which is the social media component. Without brand guidelines, creating a social media presence or campaigns is not impactful because there is no brand to adhere to and the content will not deliver a unified brand experience. Being able to consistently serve an audience with uniform messaging and visuals is what allows social media marketing to reach audiences in the awareness stage, engage them into the nurture phase, and finally lead them to a conversion in the conversion stage.
Three // Traffic Desitination
Speaking of the conversion stage, this is typically the stage at which your hard earned social media audience will venture outside the platform to learn more about your brand. This also happens during the nurture phase, but in either case, what matters here is what is happening when they leave the platforms. Where is the traffic that your social media presence is generating going to and what is it making them do?
This destination could be your website, a landing page, an app, a physical location, etc. The point is, that if these are not optimized to continue nurturing or to convert your audience, your social media efforts are driving traffic to a dead end and reducing the return on your social media marketing investment.
Four // Goals
Are your goals measurable and are you realistic about what’s needed to attain them? Establishing a social media presence in the hopes of going viral or becoming known overnight is a great way to become disappointed. Creating brand awareness takes time and building trust takes a whole lot of time.
It’s important that you set out goals for your social media strategy that can be tracked and measured. It’s equally important for you to understand the budget and resources associated with those goals. The higher the goals, the larger the investment.
In essence, you’ll want your goals for social media to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
SPECIFIC What exactly do you want to achieve?
Not specific – I want to grow a large audience.
Specific – I want to grow by 300 followers in the next 30 days.
MEASURABLE A measurable goal uses specific metrics to define success.
Sample measurable goals can look as follows:
|Goal||Metrics to Measure|
|Increase brand awareness||Follower count, reach, mentions, shares|
|Increase website traffic||Post links clicks, traffic from social media, share of traffic from social media, bounce rate from social media traffic|
|Increase lead generation||Emails collected, lead magnet downloads, inquiries, direct messages|
ATTAINABLE It can be tempting to aim high when setting goals, but don’t set yourself up for failure.
If your brand just launched but you want to reach a million followers
organically in 5 months, you’re overreaching. Use industry markers or your
account’s historical data to support goals.
RELEVANT Do your goals support your overall strategy and brand?
Jumping on trends or asking for virality may not support your business or serve your brand.
TIME-BOUND Set timelines, but be realistic about the resources and/or budget
necessary to meet specific deadlines.
Five // Budget
Speaking of resources, if you have a business plan in place, then you have done a financial analysis that includes the cost of doing business. One of those costs is marketing and hopefully you have allotted a budget for it. How much you allot will depend on a variety of factors including your industry, your brand, your buyer, and your competition.
When determining how much of your marketing budget is allotted to social media marketing, you should take the following costs into consideration:
- Social media marketing goals and timelines – building a brand on social media takes time, often months or years, specifically for new brands. The more ambitious your goals are and the less known your brand is, the higher the associated costs.
- Owned content creation – content such as blog posts, case studies, podcast episodes, etc., to share on social media.
- Production costs – ongoing expenses for social media content creation such as photography, videography, and graphic design.
- Account strategy and management – freelancers, agency, or in-house social media team.
- Paid strategies – ads, influencer marketing, etc.
Incorporating social media into your marketing strategy is a must to build awareness for your brand, gain your audience’s trust, and ultimately drive conversions for your business. But it’s also important to make the most of it by ensuring your business is primed for it because developing and executing the strategies is a large investment for many businesses and not one that should be rushed into.
Geisha Garcia is the Founder of GG Communications, LLC—a digital marketing agency dedicated to elevating the digital presence of ambitious female-led brands through proven digital marketing strategies, as well as advancing the profession of social media through mentorship and education.