By Consumer Dummies

You may have written an overall marketing plan when you last updated your business plan and an online marketing plan when you first created your website. If not, it’s never too late. For business planning resources, see this Starting a Business page.

You can further refine a marketing plan for social media marketing purposes. As with any other marketing plan, you start with strategy. A Social Media Marketing Goals statement would incorporate sections on strategic goals, objectives, target markets, methods, costs, and return on investment (ROI).

Marketing-Goals
Establish your social marketing goals on the first page of this form.
objectives
Establish your social marketing objectives on the second page of this form.
Profile
Reproduced with permission of Watermelon Mountain Web Marketing.
Target your social marketing market definition on this form.

Here are some points to keep in mind when putting together your strategic marketing overview:

  • The most important function of the form isn’t for you to follow it slavishly, but rather to force you to consider the various facets of social media marketing before you invest too much effort or money.
  • The form also helps you communicate decisions to your board of advisors or your boss, in case you need to make the business case for getting involved in social media.
  • The form provides a coherent framework for explaining to everyone involved in your social media effort — employees, volunteers, or contractors — the task you’re trying to accomplish and why.

A Social Media Marketing Plan helps you develop a detailed tactical approach — including timelines — for specific social media services, sites, and tools.

The following paragraphs talk about the information you should include on this form.

Establishing goals

The Goals section prioritizes the overall reasons you’re implementing a social media campaign. Most businesses have multiple goals, which you can specify on the form.

Consult the following table to see how various social media services rank in terms of helping you reach some of your goals.

Matching Social Media Services to Goals

Service Customer Communication Brand Exposure Traffic to Your Site SEO
Face-book Good Okay Good Good
Google+ Good Good Okay Okay
Insta-gram Poor Good Good Poor
LinkedIn Okay Good Good Okay
Pinterest Good Good Okay Good
Slide-Share Okay Good Poor Poor
Twitter Good Good Good Good
YouTube Okay Okay Good Okay

Adapted from data sources at www.cmo.com/articles/2014/3/13/_2014_social_intro.html.

Setting quantifiable objectives

For each goal, set at least one quantifiable, measurable objective. “More customers” isn’t a quantifiable objective. A quantifiable objective is “Increase number of visits to website by 10 percent,” “add 30 new customers within three months,” or “obtain 100 new followers for Twitter account within one month of launch.” Enter this information on the form.

Identifying your target markets

Specify one or more target markets on the form, not by what they consume, but rather by who they are. “Everyone who eats dinner out” isn’t a submarket you can identify online. However, you can find “high-income couples within 20 miles of your destination who visit wine and classical music sites.”

You may want to reach more than one target market by way of social media or other methods. Specify each of them. Then, as you read about different methods in this book, write down next to each one which social media services or sites appear best suited to reach that market. Prioritize the order in which you plan to reach them.

Think niche! Carefully define your audiences for various forms of social media, and target your messages appropriately for each audience.

Estimating costs

Estimating costs from the bottom up is tricky, and this approach rarely includes a cap. Consequently, costs often wildly exceed your budget. Instead, establish first how much money you’re willing to invest in the overall effort, including in-house labor, outside contractors, and miscellaneous hard costs such as purchasing software or equipment. Enter those amounts in the Cost section.

Then prioritize your social marketing efforts based on what you can afford, allocating or reallocating funds within your budget as needed. This approach not only keeps your total social marketing costs under control but also lets you assess the results against expenses.

To make cost-tracking easier, ask your bookkeeper or CPA to set up an activity or a job within your accounting system for social media marketing. Then you can easily track and report all related costs and labor.

Valuing social media ROI

Return on investment (ROI) is your single most important measure of success for social media marketing. In simple terms, ROI is the ratio of revenue divided by costs for your business or, in this case, for your social media marketing effort.

You also need to set a realistic term in which you will recover your investment. Are you willing to wait ten weeks? Ten months? Ten years? Some forms of social media are unlikely to produce a fast fix for drooping sales, so consider what you’re trying to accomplish.

This figure presents a brief glimpse of how HubSpot clients assessed their average cost of lead generation (identifying prospective customers) in 2013, comparing social marketing to other forms of marketing. It’s just a guide. Keep in mind that the only ROI or cost of acquisition that truly matters is your own.

Lead-Generation
Reproduced by permission of HubSpot, Inc.
Social media and email show a lower cost per lead (CPL) generated compared to other forms of marketing.

Costs usually turn out to be simpler to track than revenues that are traceable explicitly to social media.

Whatever you plan for online marketing, it will cost twice as much and take twice as long as anticipated.

A social media service is likely to produce results only when your customers or prospects are already using it or are willing to try. Pushing people toward a service they don’t want is quite difficult. If in doubt, first expand other online and offline efforts to drive traffic toward your hubsite.