If your business wants to incorporate social media into its marketing mix, then it must come up with a plan. All effective marketing is backed by a plan.

Do you have a social media marketing plan?

First, decide on your goal. Think about your mission statement. What is the one thing your business hopes to accomplish? Take that idea and pull it into social media. For instance, I want to help small businesses create killer web content. Using social media, I connect with small business owners to offer marketing ideas and my services.

Second, determine your objectives. This is the moment where you determine the concrete results you hope to achieve. For example

•    Boost in website traffic
•    Search engine optimization
•    Higher sales
•    More media mentions
•    Build credibility in your industry (e.g., number of followers on Twitter, number of guest blog posts accepted, number of referrals, etc.)
•    Provide another avenue for customer service
•    Keep in touch with customers and potential customers
•    Simply have access to news and information

It’s not enough to make a blanket statement such as, “I want more website traffic.” A better objective reads, “I want 10% more website traffic.” Attach a number to an objective whenever you can.

Third, prioritize the objectives. Now that you have a list of objectives you want to accomplish, put them in order of importance. You should not try to be all things all at once. Instead, create a plan that includes a series of strategy phases.

The first strategy phase, or bucket as I like to call it, will help you reach your immediate objective, e.g., provide avenue for customer service. Anything that won’t help you reach your customers should be added to a subsequent strategy phase a/k/a bucket.

Fourth, identify where your customers hang out. If you don’t know where your customers hang out within social media, ask them, pay to have market research completed, or research online.

Once you know where your customers spend 80% of their time within social media, establish your presence on those sites. For the sake of this series of posts, let’s say your customers choose Facebook primarily and StumbleUpon secondarily.

Sara Lancaster

About Sara Lancaster

Sara is The Condiment Marketing Co.’s founder and creative director. She oversees client relationships, strategic marketing plans, as well as a bit of copywriting and social media management.