What is a SMM Plan?
A social media marketing plan details an organization’s social media goals and the actions necessary to achieve them.
SMM Planning Cycle
The Social Media Marketing Planning Cycle is an nine-step model for developing a social media marketing plan through a continuous process of listening, setting goals, defining strategies, identifying the target audience (market), selecting tools, selecting platforms and channels, implementing, monitoring, and tuning.
SMM Planning Cycle – Listening
Listening to what people are saying about a company enables the organization to determine its current social media presence, which in turn guides the setting of social media goals and strategies to achieve them.
SMM Planning Cycle – Setting Goals
Setting goals is done by pinpointing the location, behavior, tastes, and needs of the target audience and conducting a competitive analysis to determine an organization’s strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats in the environment.
SMM Planning Cycle – Defining Strategies
Defining strategies must be done on a case-by-case basis, using all available pertinent information.
SMM Planning Cycle – Identifying the target audience (market)
Identifying the target audience (market) enables a company to organize its marketing strategies to efficiently reach those most receptive and likely to become customers and even brand advocates.
SMM Planning Cycle – Selecting Tools
Selecting tools is accomplished by finding the social media sites where the target audience resides and then focusing the company’s social media efforts on those platforms.
SMM Planning Cycle – Selecting Platforms and Channels
Selecting platforms and channels identifies the paths by which content will be transmitted to the target audience. Social media platforms are the websites on which social media communications take place (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, others). Channels are broader entities composed of multiple platforms and other technologies (i.e., mobile).)
SMM Planning Cycle – Implementing
Implementing is the process whereby the goals, strategies, target market, and tools are taken into consideration in creating actionable social media platform-specific marketing tactics.
SMM Planning Cycle – Monitoring
Monitoring is the process of tracking, measuring, and evaluating an organization’s social media marketing initiatives.
SMM Planning Cycle – Tuning
Tuning is the constant and continuous process of adjusting and improving the elements of the plan to maximize the chances of success.
Listen and Observe: Five Stages
During the listening and observing stage, marketers should follow conversations about a particular brand and company, its competitors, and the relevant industry on as many social media platforms as possible.
1: Listen to conversations about a brand or company.
2: Listen to what people say about the competitors.
3: Listening to what people say about the industry or category.
4: Listening for the tone of the community.
5: Listening to different social media platforms and channels.
Listen and Observe: Stage #1: The first stage is listening to and observing conversations about a particular company.
Stage #1: The first stage is listening to and observing conversations about a particular company. Listen to the conversations taking place on blogs, Twitter, discussion forums, websites, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., to understand how the company is perceived. Both positive and negative remarks can show where opportunities may lie.
Listen and Observe: Stage #2: Next, listen to what people say about a company’s competitors.
Stage #2: Next, listen to what people say about a company’s competitors, and what those competitors are saying about themselves. Assessing the competitive landscape on social media sites will show how buyers are meeting sellers on social media and may provide insights that can be leveraged when later building a strategy.
Listen and Observe: Stage #3: After observing the competition, begin listening on a broader scale: the overall industry.
Stage #3: After observing the competition, begin listening on a broader scale: the overall industry. Listening at the category or industry level will help one understand what the consumers in that industry are really interested in talking about.
Listen and Observe: Stage #4: The next stage is to listen for the Tone of the Community.
Stage #4: The next stage is to listen for the Tone of the Community, or how your consumers naturally interact with each other on social sites. This knowledge will facilitate integration and participation in the community.
Listen and Observe: Stage #5: Finally, when listening to social media, be sure to access multiple social media channels.
Stage #5: Finally, when listening to social media, be sure to access multiple social media channels to identify where target audiences hang out and what they do there. Since the users on each site and the social networking structure are different, it is important to listen to conversations across a variety of social media channels.
Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats
Channels are broader entities, composed of multiple platforms and other technologies. For example, mobile is generally considered to be a channel made up of various elements like mobile websites, apps and telecommunications services.
Chatter Data is what people are talking about when their watching television or when they’re watching a sporting event.
What kind of reaction are they having? Are brand mentions included? Howard brands representing themselves in that kind of chatter? What kind of, say, hair color? That might affect a hair care company.
SMM Planning Cycle
Identifying the target audience (market)
Selecting platforms and channels
Key objectives of SMM include:
Building brand preference
Acquisition of new customer leads
The generic concepts of SMM are:
Exposure: Opportunity to attend to content.
Engagement: Interaction with content.
Influence: Ability to change option or behavior.
Impact: Effect on the target audience.
Advocacy: Suggest action to another user.
This is a progression that may parallel the purchase journey itself. A person must first be exposed to a communication before she can become in any way involved with it or be affected but it. If the communication has an effect, it may result in a behavior. If a person engages in a behavior and the results are satisfactory, the person may choose to share it with others. That describes the chain of events that social media marketers are trying to stimulate.
The SMART standard for judging the quality of goals and objectives at any level:
T ime delimited
Brand building goals include:
increasing brand awareness, improving brand perception, positioning a brand, and expanding brand loyalty.
Benefits of SMM.
Firms received increased market insight, improving business partnerships, and lower marketing costs as a result of SMM.
Social media has caused significant changes in search ranking.
Search engines tend to favor the sites with the greatest number of inbound links from well-respected sites by ranking them higher in search results. Building a strong social media presence increased the number of links to your website content resulting in potential higher ranking on search engines. Of the ten most important ranking factors seven were social signals.
Other objectives of SMM include:
achieving a desired brad positioning, producing new product ideas, being prepared to handle reputation management in a crisis, and supporting public relations and advertising campaigns.
Social media marketing should not be an isolated part of the marketing strategy; rather, it should link into a broader marketing plan.
The building of social media marketing strategies that support the overall strategic goals of a company will also make it easier for the strategies to win support within the company.
Key considerations when setting SMM strategies:
What are the Overall Goals?
What was Learned from Listening?
What Best Practices can be Applied?
Goals May Change…Be Flexible
The eight C’s of strategy development are intended as broad guidelines for marketers as follows:
1. Categorize social media platforms by target market relevancy.
2. Comprehend the rules of the road on the platform by listening and learning how to behave, successfully spark conversation, and engage and energize the participants.
3. Converse by acknowledging and responding to other users of the platform, always remembering to be a contributor, not a promoter.
4. Collaborate with platform members as a means of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with the platform participants.
5. Contribute content to build reputation and become a valued member, helping to improve the community.
6. Connect with the influencers so that you can enlist them to help shape opinions about your product or service.
7. Community participation (and creation) can elicit valuable consumer suggestions for improving products and innovative suggestions for new products or service.
8. Convert strategy execution into desired outcomes such as brand building, increasing customer satisfaction, driving word-of-mouth recommendations, producing new product ideas, generating leads, handling crisis reputation management, integrating social media marketing with PR and advertising, and increasing search engine ranking and site traffic.
Linking Goals with a Call to Action
With a clear and measurable call to action, it’s possible to measure actual conversions due to a social media marketing campaign.
In order to measure success, you must define what someone’s desired action would be – your “call to action.”
Getting to the sale is the final step:
Click on blog post from Twitter or Facebook
Sign up for email newsletter
Sign up for webinar (collect contact info)
Have salesperson call
Convert the customer to a brand advocate
Getting to the sale is the final step in a chain of actions. The goal is to increase the level of interaction and engagement through small, incremental steps.
Self-Promotion vs. Building an Army of Advocates
Many businesses focus their social media efforts around themselves and publishing content about the brand, but social media can be even more valuable by building the number of people who are passionate about a business.
Best Practices for Developing a Social Media Strategy
1. Start with a road map. That is your SMM plan. At a minimum it should specify:
a. Who your target audience is and the audience characteristics
b. how you plan to interact with the audience
c. How you will measure the success or failure of your activities
d. how you will adjust to stay on track to meet your objectives.
2. Listen before you start interacting. Just as you would not walk up to a group of people at a party and start talking (even worse, start talking about yourself), you must listen strategically before you engage with your audience. Then offer respect, empathy, and content of value before you ask anything of them.
3. Welcome audience participation, feedback and collaboration, and use these conversations to locate and nurture brand advocates.
4. A successful social media strategy or execution is not built overnight. Give it an adequate amount of time and resources to become successful.
5. Be flexible. Social media itself is constantly evolving.