One of the busiest times of year revolves around the fall and winter Holidays. From Black Friday, to Cyber Monday, to Prime Day and Christmas, this is the busiest time of year for businesses. Whether you are a small business, brand or large corporation, you will be investing a lot of time, marketing and money into your Holiday campaigns. Large corporations typically have the budget and marketing, advertising, and public relations departments to take care of their Holiday campaign strategy months in advance.
If you are a small business or brand, this might look a little different for you. A lot of smaller businesses depend on their clientele to make their sales, but they can always take advantage of free marketing resources to make a good plan. They might not have the budget, but they can do some research. I’m sure that this year you want to be ahead of the season with the current Pandemic affecting a lot of our typical holiday shopping traditions. In this post, we will go over how to create a social media marketing plan for small businesses and brands.
Social Media Marketing
Small business owners might not know where to begin when creating a social media marketing plan that is effective and strategic. It is one thing to know how to use social media to promote your products and connect to your target audience, but it is a different thing to understand how to properly utilize it for an effective and strategic social media marketing plan that will help you in boosting traffic to your website and/or getting clients/customers into your physical location.
Let’s begin by going over the basics of social media marketing. You might be asking, what is social media marketing? A basic definition is that social media marketing (SMM) is the process of utilizing social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and websites to promote products, content and services. It is not just about posting a lot of pictures and getting followers, although that is a big part of it.
As you might already know, it is not easy to get followers and it is even harder to get good engagement rates on your posts. Take a moment to think about how long you have been on social media, how often you have posted content, how many followers you have gained, and how much engagement you typically get per post? You might know the answer to some of these questions like how many followers you have and how often you post, but it takes much more to be able to create an effective and strategic plan.
Optimizing Social Media Accounts
The first thing that you will need to do is take a look at your profiles. Your profiles need to be optimized to get the best results. This varies depending on the platform. For example, on Instagram you might be better off having a bullet style bio using emojis while on Twitter you might focus more on including hashtags in your bio. It all depends on the platform.
Let’s take a quick minute to discuss what social media platforms you should be utilizing. You might think that you need to be on every single platform to be effective, but you should not. It is best to focus on the platforms where your target audience spends the most time and the platforms that you feel most comfortable using. If you focus on a few rather than half a dozen, then you will be able to spend more time and be more consistent on the platforms that you use. The best platforms depend on your industry so research where your target audience spends the most time and where your competitors are most active.
Target Audience, Social Media Audit & Competitor Analysis
After you have done your research and you know what platforms you should be focusing on, it is time to research your target audience. Think about who you want to reach. For example, is your business focused on targeting parents? Is your business targeting middle age adults, teens, senior citizens, women, men, children, etc.? Your demographics focus on statistical data on a population including age, gender, race, ethnicity, income, education, etc. A good strategy to use is taking a look at who your competitors are targeting. Your competitors should be those in your community (physical and/or virtual) that target the same group with the same products and services. Another tip here is to research the industry in general to find out some demographics overall.
For example, you might be an online clothing brand that targets mothers. Depending on what you sell, you might be targeting women ages 25-50 that want affordable and comfortable clothing for their children. A tip here is to do some research on their income to understand how much they might be willing to spend. Another thing you need to look at is psychographics. Psychographics focus on the classification of individuals in a population according to their attitudes, aspirations, behaviors, and other psychological factors. You might look into lifestyle, shopping attitudes, and interests when researching the psychographics of your target audience.
Understanding your target audience might take some time and research. After you have identified your ideal target audience you can conduct a social media audit. The audit will consist of analyzing your own and/or your competitors’ social media pages. Look at your followers, content, engagement, and analytics. For competitors, you will not have access to their analytics, but you can determine their followers, engagement rates and the type of content that they share. This can also help you decide the type of content that you will share on your own pages.
You should also take a look at what type of content performs best. Take a look at your own engagement rate per post, your followers’ demographics, the times that they are active on social media and so on. This can help you determine the best posting and content strategy moving forward. You can find this information on the analytics section of social media platforms like Twitter Analytics, Pinterest Analytics and Facebook Insights.
As we discussed earlier, you should also take a look at your competitors. A competitor analysis can help you determine many things. You can observe what your competitors are doing to attract their customers. A part of this is also conducting a social media audit of them in order to determine where they stand compared to your business. With a competitor analysis, you can research the market/industry, better understand your target audience, look into tertiary market possibilities, track the success of products, and so on.
Social Media Marketing Plan
Now that we have gone over the basics, we need to start discussing how you will go about creating your own social media marketing plan. The first steps after your preliminary research as discussed previously, is setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Objectives. S.M.A.R.T. Goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. For example, to gain 300 new Twitter followers in November. This goal is specific, it is measurable because you set the goal of 300, it is achievable, it is relevant to growing your following and small business, and it is time-bound because you gave yourself a specific time frame. You need to also set your objectives. The difference between goals and objectives is that goals are the outcomes you intend to achieve whereas objectives are the actions that will help you achieve your goals. An example of a S.M.A.R.T. objective is to increase sales by 20% within the next six months.
After you have set your goals and objectives, it is time to move on to setting your key messages. You might or might not have heard of key messages before, but they are important to guiding your plan. Key messages are the messages that you are trying to convey to your target audience which you defined in the preliminary steps of the plan. These messages should align with your objectives which you set in the previous step and your overall small business/brand mission.
Your key messages can be divided into primary and secondary messages where the primary messages are short statements that identify important information and/or communicate to the public what action you want them to take. The secondary messages are statements written in bullet points that support the primary messages with examples, facts, stories and testimonials in order to create credibility with the audience. For example, look at the primary and secondary messages that I wrote for my small business in a format that is easy to follow:
Primary Message: JM Integrated Marketing is dedicated and passionate about helping small businesses, individuals, nonprofits and government agencies establish a strong digital footprint.
- JM’s bilingual representation works to grow and engage the client’s diverse audience.
- JM is dedicated to developing strategic, creative and innovative communications plans for clients.
- JM understands the importance of community outreach and works with organizations to develop meaningful story-telling campaigns.
The next few steps will involve setting your strategies and tactics. Although people typically tend to confuse these two terms for one another, they mean different things for your campaign/plan. Strategies are the main plan of action that will help you achieve your objectives. The tactics are the creative actions that will help you achieve your strategy. For example, you can work out and list your strategies and tactics in the following format, and you can have two to four strategies for one campaign or plan.
Strategy One: Raise small business awareness of JM Integrated Marketing and their services.
- Create social media accounts to post about business services and share information about the benefits of services.
- Create original content for social media posts demonstrating skill sets and expertise of the agency.
- To increase the organic impressions of JM’s social media posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn by 20% within the next two months.
- Launch a website with information about the services provided and samples of previous work.
- Share information about the boutique agency with personal network on LinkedIn.
- Share information about the boutique agency with personal network in order to begin creating word-of-mouth.
After you have your target audience, your goals and objectives, key messages, strategies and tactics, it is time to create your tactical elements. These are the elements that you have selected as your tactics to achieve your strategies. This can be a content calendar which is used to plan the content including when you will create it, edit it, and share it. These include social media posts, graphics, press releases, media kits, blog posts, promotions, etc. Then, you need to identify your timeline of events. For this reason, it is important that you begin creating your plan in advance a few weeks or months before you intend to implement it. Another important part of this is selecting your overall budget.
As a small business, you might not have a huge budget to play with, but even a small budget can help you boost/promote your social media posts. A tip that I use is promoting the posts with the highest organic engagement because that means that these posts are already popular and people are attracted to them which will lead more people to interact with them once there is paid promotion. The final step is evaluating and measuring. After your plan or campaign is finished, you should evaluate and measure your successes. This will help you plan for future campaigns and it will let you know the things you can improve.
I hope that this social media marketing plan guide can help your small business marketing strategy for this upcoming holiday season. Remember to do your research, set S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives, focus on good key messages, strategies and tactics, and make sure to evaluate your campaign for future insights
Johanna M. Caba, M.A. is a public relations professional and social media manager/marketer. She shares thought-leadership articles on her business blog (JM Blog) and on her social media accounts. Johana recently earned her Master’s Degree in Professional Communication from William Paterson University of New Jersey. You can learn more about Johana on her website and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.