Diving into social media with the right strategy is like a never-ending road trip. Here are some tips

Put simply, every action you take on social networks should be a part of a larger social media marketing strategy. That means every like, tweet, reply, share and comment should all be guided by a plan and driving towards pre-determined goals.

To create a social media marketing plan from scratch, the first step is to create social media objectives and goals. As social media channels continue their meteoric rise, the push for organisations to adopt social technology increases as well.

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Be SMART about it

Here are some common examples of goals and objectives for an organisation’s social engagement plans and how these can be tied together with its marketing plan in 2016. These objectives are S.M.A.R.T., i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Oriented.

Goal 1: Increase market share of voice, increase reach of thought leadership content. Goal 2: Enhance brand reputation, increase engagement and brand awareness by exposing the brand to new people. Goal 3: Improve business intelligence (knowledge of prospects and clients, competitors, technology and trends). Goal 4: Improve return on marketing investment (ROMI)

The next step is to choose and prioritise your social network channels. When it comes to choosing the social media channel or platform you should utilise, follow the principle of choosing wisely. To begin, frame your evaluation of each channel or platform with the following questions: What is the unique purpose of this channel or platform? Does the channel or platform relate to my business needs? Which target audience does this channel or platform serve? How much time on this network is necessary to have the best impact?

You can also judge the value of a social network based on how well it fits your content and strategy. Here’s a helpful way of looking at it. Encourages dialogue, conversation networks: Twitter and Facebook; Business-focused networks: LinkedIn; Image-based networks: Pinterest, Instagram; Video networks: YouTube; SEO and authorship networks: Google+; Location-based networks: Foursquare

Remember to fill out your profiles completely. One of the great benefits of having a fully filled-out social media profile is that visitors know that you are serious about engaging with them. Before you publicise your presence, one must have minimum 15 to 20 posts. This helps visitors to know what type of content you’ll be posting and shows them that you’re established and invested on the channel already.

Keep talking

One must also aim for consistent posting and talk about trending topics. Respond to conversations and keep them going by responding in a way that your audience is excited to talk more, interact more. Keep it consistent and moving. Perhaps the most vital reason for participating in social media is that you get exposure to consumers, clients, prospects, industry leaders and competitors. It actually implies that there’s a wealth of information already available to you which you can incorporate into your social media marketing strategy. This is your baby step to know and explore your path wisely.

Consumers can also offer social media inspiration. How? Simply see how they respond to your promotions, notice what they like, share, tweet and why. Never forget, consumers, clients, prospects buy from those they know, like, and trust. Social media is a way to add value, boost your credibility, and build trust with ideally matched contacts. Always put relationships first because that is the basis of social media marketing. Smart selection of plans based on what your competitors are doing with their social media platforms can also play a pivotal role in your social media strategy. Do get inspired by industry leaders if you feel blank on what lies in the future of your social media strategy.

Above all, any strategy that focuses on providing value, boosting credibility and building trust can bring a paradigm transformation in terms of business excellence. Create a content plan and editorial calendar, create a content strategy. Creating a buzz around your content is essential to expanding social media reach and engagement. Your content marketing plan on social media should focus around these points. What type(s) of content do you intend to post and promote via social media, this year? How often will you post the content? Whom do you wish to target for each type of content? How will you promote the content?

A safe strategy to follow is the social media rule of thirds. One-third of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, generates profit. One-third of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses and one-third of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.

A social media content calendar should organise the way you curate and create content, and help develop your editorial strategy. You should also keep in mind that not all content has to be created fresh, you can get a lot of value from repurposing old content. Perhaps you have articles on your website, case studies, whitepapers, or other forms of content which can be shared using social technology.

Finally, test, evaluate and adjust your social media marketing plan. The most important thing to understand about your social media marketing plan is that it should be constantly changing. As new channels emerge, you may want to add them to your plan. As you attain goals, you may need to adjust them or find new goals for each channel.

As you scale your business, you might need to grow your social presence for different branches or countries. Rewrite your strategy to reflect your latest insight. This is a plan that is meant to change, so be flexible. As you move forward, you may discover that some tactics are not working as well as you thought they would. Try to adapt quickly and introduce the new changes to your overall strategy. An intelligent approach to apply new-edge social media tactics and an emotional approach to know what your consumers want can drive a brand, resulting in social media excellence.

KG Manjunatha is Chairman and CEO,

Kenscio Digital

The original article appeared on The Hindu Business Line.

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