What is the most powerful, yet vastly underutilized tool in your marketing toolbox?

Social media.

If used correctly, strong personal connections are created with your prospects.

Then why is it that marketers often time jump into social media without a road map of where they want to get? Aimless activity, just for the sake of activity, is a waste of time and can often lead to marketing nightmares. To successfully navigate the city of social media (and avoid the potholes), you need to create a plan, an attainable strategy that takes you to where you are trying to go, understand who your customers are, and what your competitors are doing.

Here is a way to create that road map.

Define your objective.

What do you want to accomplish? What kind of gas do you want to put in the tank? Where would you like this journey to lead you, or what is your final destination? What is the desired outcome of your social media marketing actions? Do you want to increase “foot” traffic on your website? Make more sales? Drive brand awareness? Increase existing customer loyalty? Find influencers in your industry? Uncover investors? All of the above? While these goals often go together, you should start by focusing on one or two objectives. If you do too much at once, you’ll end up running out of gas and not getting to any of your destinations.

Make it measurable.

Now that you have identified what your goals are, and filled your tank, it’s time to set quantifiable checkpoints based on those goals. What are the tourist stops you want to make on this road trip, before you hit your final destination? Successful goals often times employ the K.I.S.S. method. Keep It Simple, Silly. The more complex your objective, the harder it will be to implement and achieve. Keep it straightforward, measureable, realistic, and plan it around a specific timeframe. Pro Tip: Once you set your objectives, be sure there are ways to quantify their impact and success. Without that piece, you won’t be able to measure your efforts and it will be like going for a drive at night, without a map, or headlights…you just won’t get far.

Identify your targets.

Who are your targets? You aren’t a secret agent on a reconnaissance mission, but you will want to identify who your goals are going to be targeted towards. You won’t attract or pitch the same sales points to an electric car buyer the same way you would to a giant SUV buyer. Know your audience, speak to what is important to THEM, and what THEY will get out of your efforts on THEIR behalf. If you haven’t looked at who is buying your product before, identify who your customers are and the attributes of each customer based upon what they are buying. What industry are they in? Are they targeting consumers, businesses, investors, or all of the above? What is in their best interest to buy your product – what are you helping them achieve?

Do a competitor drive-by.

Do you know who your competition is and have you scoped out their social media marketing efforts? You can gather a lot of intelligence about what will work for your company just by researching what direction the competitors are traveling and who they are selling to. Ignoring what competitors are doing in your marketplace is leaving a lot of learning opportunity behind, missing a shortcut for successes, and hitting all the potholes. Check out two or three of your closest competitors and focus on how they pitch their product or services to their audience. Do they sell the product, do they sell an experience the product provides? Are they serious, reflective, or funny in how they “speak” in their marketing? Do they provide social media content that is images, videos, written content, or a mixture? How much do they use of each?

Get your point across.

You are so close to putting the rubber to the road in implementing your goals. However, before you can put it into second gear, you need to find your voice. Cultivate YOUR message(s) for YOUR audience(s). Start with high level messaging – think make and model of your vehicle instead of the features of the car – to gain your audience’s interest. What will speak to them? What is their motivating reason, that your product or service will address? What’s in it for them?  After you have identified your high level messaging, break that down into another level of messaging, slightly more detailed, but addressing specific needs. Each trail you create, will blaze a new marketing opportunity for you to reach a larger audience. (Pssst, don’t forget about the measureable aspect of your goals while you are planning all of this too. This won’t be easy to duplicate if you can’t measure what was successful or what needs to be tweaked.)

Select the right channels.

Channel, channel, who’s got the channel? It’s time to pick which channel(s) is the right choice for your product and company. Not all social media outlets are the same. You would market something very differently on LinkedIn, which focuses on business-to-business pitches, instead of Facebook, which is more consumer and end-user based outlet. Whichever channel(s) you pick be sure your messaging stands out. Marketing on social media is meant to be different – and dynamic. This is a great time to identify who in your industry are key influencers and harness their industry know-how, expertise, and followers. Their followers are your target audience.

Setting your plan into motion.

What intervals will you post messaging? What type of media mix will you post? Have you finalized all messaging, whether in video, text, or infographic form? Is your content united with your overall messaging, and meeting the goals you have identified at the beginning of this road trip? Is your brand visible in all messaging? Keep your content fresh. Surprises in marketing catch a targeted audience and may help drive the almighty “click”!

Enjoy the trip, check out the sites, and don’t forget to continually check the gauges in your marketing machine. Just like a car, you can adjust fluid levels, tire pressure, and strategy to your working marketing plan as you travel the social media highway.

About the Author

Sales, marketing, and digital savvy Heather McNeice is an account manager for Sales Maven. Passionate about small business, supporting women, and a fierce customer advocate, Heather went from traveling the world for work to becoming a mom to twin boys and a daughter, and advocating for parents of multiples through compassion, support, and parenting education.

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