In my previous blog post on marketing to build relationships, the key message was on building and following a marketing strategy. By now everyone should know that to attract and engage social media followers and ideally convert them into customers, you’ll need to carefully map out a clear social media strategy.

Today in Part 1 of this 2-day series we will practice the initial stage of coming up with a social media marketing plan. Document this process to see what results you get in the next few days of using the tips I will be sharing (and please let me know how it goes that way I can celebrate your milestones with you).

Start by asking yourself these 5 questions, almost like a brand audit,  to begin your road to building a great social media strategy:

 1. What should my company aim to achieve?

Is it exposure, customer interaction, or promotion and awareness? Could be something else, write that down.

2. Who should manage my social media accounts?

Outsource or consider delegating in-house to a staff member/ hiring someone with good writing & communication skills, reasonably tech savvy and preferably with a bit of Sales/Marketing experience. (Most people want to save costs and try do it themselves. You can, but then who’s going to be taking care of the main work you should be focusing on instead?)

 3. Should my company be present on all social media networks?

Yes! Having an online presence does not mean someone is holding a gun to your head to be active on all the accounts all the time. You should at least protect your brand identity online by setting up and optimizing accounts on as many networks as possible even if you won’t use them immediately. This pays off when people who find your page through keyword search are still able to see your bio, contact details, website url and identify your business logo and location.

 4. What are the best social networks for small businesses/startups?

While Twitter and Facebook are a good start, Google+ is a great SEO boost. Therefore, as mentioned in the point above, you NEED to ‘protect your brand’ (Or ask me to do it for you).

In terms of the best social networks for actually posting updates, consider if your business is visual or text based and use social networks that best depict your marketing message.

 5. How often should I post new content?

Attempt getting into the habit of posting twice a day , minimum. More on Twitter. Keep in mind that people browse through their feed throughout the day and you want to constantly be somewhere in their minds and locked in their memory. Be sure to select the best times for posting which comes from researching your audience’s online behavior.

The first few weeks of your social media strategy will all be experimental, so get into it with a trial and error approach. Try out different posting styles to see which one your audience responds to the most. Pay attention to new followers/fans and what drew them to your page to maximize on that. You will soon get into the minds of your audience and customize your message to make them feel as if most of your posts are directed to them personally.

In the next blog I’ll look at the kind of content to post as well as other tips to plan and perfect your overall marketing strategy to see measurable outcomes or returns.

Please share any feedback.