Step By Step Guide to Creating an Effective LinkedIn Personal Profile

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional online network, with over 500 million active users spanning more than 200 countries. The network is primarily centred on careers and network building and is highly popular with business-to-business users. It enables users to connect and share content with other professionals, including colleagues as well as potential employers, business partners, and new employees. It is also beneficial for those looking to share and discover industry news and knowledge and for those looking for jobs.

The Profile Summary

The summary area of your LinkedIn Profile constitutes the most important part of the entire page because it is the first thing readers’ scan after reading your name and tagline. For this reason your summary must be compelling. Here are some suggestions that will improve your summary:

  • Write it in the first person ‘I am’ etc. as it shows an authenticity that you miss out on when writing in the third person.
  • Write your Summary in the Who / What / Goals format. Clearly stating who you are, what you do with the final section providing information about your professional goals and aspirations.
  • Read your summary and keep asking yourself ‘so what?’ as this will help you to pin point areas for improvement.

 

Optimise your Profile for SEO Benefit

Suggestions for optimising your LinkedIn Profile for SEO benefit include:

  • Customise the URL for your public profile
  • Embed keywords strategically throughout your profile
  • Try to list up to the maximum of three links in the billboard area (e.g., your business website, your personal website, your blog). When entering the anchor text for the hyperlink, embed as many of your keywords as possible.

Fill Out Every Section Fully

  • Emphasize Your Professional Skills

LinkedIn showcases your top 10 skills based on endorsements so people know where you excel. Make sure you fully optimize and fill out as many specific keywords you can to help you get quick endorsements from your connections for those skills.

  • Promote Your Projects

Promote and highlight your products, services and projects in the Projects section. Directly link each project to your website and include team members when applicable.

  • Link to Your Publications

The Publications section is perfect if you’re an author, regular contributor to top publications, have eBooks, white papers and other company content that you want to promote. You can directly link each publication to where visitors can buy your books, link to author profile pages and also to landing pages for your content.

  • Share Your Honours and Awards

This section is where you can highlight notable lists and mentions you’ve received from recognized authorities and publications in your industry.

  • Showcase Specialized Certifications

The Certifications section allows you to showcase your specialised educational achievements within your industry. If your business has received a certification for your industry, promote and showcase it here so people can learn more about it.

  • Highlight Industry-Related Coursework

If you’ve taken any courses that are relevant and apply to your business, you can list them in the Courses section. This can include coursework you completed at university, on-the-job training course and those offered by recognised organizations in your industry.

  • Feature Your Professional Memberships

If you belong to professional organizations in your industry, use the Organizations section to highlight your membership and the position you hold/have held.

  • Demonstrate Language Proficiency

Demand for people who speak several languages is on the rise. Therefore, if you are fluent in multiple languages, include that information in the Languages section.

  • Highlight Your LinkedIn Groups

When you join LinkedIn groups, you have the option of listing them on your profile, as shown in the Groups section below.  You should utilise this opportunity as this can benefit you three-fold:

  • People who want to get to know you can do so by joining the groups you’re in and engaging with you there.
  • If you run groups for your business, you can display them on your profile to help increase membership.
  • Joining groups related to your industry means you can add more keywords to your profile
  • Publicise Your Interests

When you follow businesses, news channels, publishers and influencers found on LinkedIn Pulse, they will appear in the Following section of your profile. Use this section to optimise your profile for specific keywords, highlight publications that you may contribute to and showcase your customers.

  • Support Your Causes

One in five hiring managers has chosen a candidate based on his or her volunteer experience so add the Volunteer section to your profile to show others that you also care about helping others. For non-profits, this is also a great way to promote your organization and cause.

 

Keep Your Network Posted with Status Updates

Keeping your network posted with status updates should be a routine procedure. It gives you the opportunity to share valuable information with your network about what you’re doing. Done right, status updates can engage your followers, create leads, and facilitate customer conversion. Here are some tips on how to optimise your status updates:

  • Leverage the power of status updates by embedding special keywords when posting
  • Focus on sharing informative and useful updates as that is the information members expect from connections they follow on LinkedIn
  • Post status updates encouraging your followers to interact with you and this includes using a clear call to action within your post
  • Post regularly and consistently and you will reach more of your audience and extend your reach.

 

Use Your Profile as a Central Hub

When searching for someone on Google in most cases their LinkedIn profile is seen on the first page with the vast majority appearing in the first five results. This means that you need keep your profile current and up to date to highlight your experience and expertise and in addition requires that your profile needs to become a central source for connecting all of your other social media platforms. LinkedIn has many available tools for you to utilise that can link your profile with your Blog and Twitter feed among others so is a great way to support and drive attention to your other sites.

 

Add Rich Visual Content to Your LinkedIn Profile

Throughout your profile LinkedIn provides you with the opportunity to visually enhance your profile so you need to leverage this opportunity. Add some oomph to your profile by adding some up to date, rich, visual content and you will help yourself and your profile to stand out from the rest and get noticed. Embracing the visual in social media marketing is highly important so utilise this and share with your audience creative, informative and engaging visual elements such as pictures, SlideShare presentations and videos. A key thing is to also remember not to just create and then forget your newly visual profile, rather, actively update and refresh your profile with current, fresh and valuable content such as examples of new work, recent articles and features in the press.

Connect with New Contacts in Groups and Answers

Joining and contributing to LinkedIn Groups helps to locate people with shared interests and establish valuable new connections. In addition to the benefit of increased traffic to your profile page, participating within a Group has the added benefit of learning from others and participation in a group or within the LinkedIn Answers section allows you to highlight your ideas and insight. The more you participate, the more you’ll build credibility and trust within your industry. If you’re contributing valuable content, you will soon improve your own reputation as an invaluable resource on select topics by other industry connections.

 

Give and Get Recommendations

Recommendations from colleagues, business partners and satisfied clients go a long way in establishing your value and credibility. As either an employee or a business, a recommendation can carry a great deal of weight in the eyes of future customers or employers as they essentially act as solid examples of a good experience with you in a personal manner. If you want to get recommendations, use LinkedIn to give them to people you’ve worked with and who have done a great job for you and they will likely reciprocate. Similarly with the new Endorsement feature, if you endorse someone, they’ll be notified and you’re likely to get a reciprocal endorsement in return.

Add, Remove, and Rearrange Entire Sections of Your Profile

LinkedIn enables you to reorder entire sections of your profile in any way that you prefer. This is a great feature to help you optimise your profile as you can place your most important sections in prominent places and delete any that are not relevant to you for example. Simply go into edit mode, hover your mouse over the double-sided arrow in each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrowed icon, at which point you can click, then drag and drop to another position on your profile.

Edit Your Public Profile Settings

You want to ensure that people can find your profile when they do a public search. You ideally want to show public viewers as much as possible to convince them to click to view your full profile and make a connection. Locate the Privacy & Settings option on your LinkedIn homepage and click Manage. To access your public profile settings, click your profile image and select the Privacy & Settings option. On the next page, click Edit Your Public Profile to see what items are displayed on your public profile. The right side of the page shows a list of items that are displayed on your private profile and you can choose which items to show on your public profile. You can choose to share only a few sections of your profile with public viewers or be fully transparent and show all sections. Just ensure that you enable the setting that allows anyone to see your public profile. You may feel uneasy about showing your entire profile but it is important to do so as your public profile will never display rich-text media like videos or full-text recommendations, therefore, your description of your job experience is the most important part of your profile.

 

Consider Upgrading Your LinkedIn Account

The goal of improving your public image on LinkedIn is to get high-quality connections. With a premium plan, you gain access to additional features such as seeing people who viewed your profile, requesting and making introductions and mailing other users from within LinkedIn. These are features that could greatly benefit your business so consider upgrading your account if you are in a position to do so.

 


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

Checklist for Developing a Clear and Effective Facebook Strategy

Determine Your Facebook Business Objectives

One of the first things you must do is determine what you want your Facebook Page to achieve for your business. Whether you want to use it to drive more traffic to your website, promote your events or use it as an outlet to build your brand by engaging your community, having clear objectives for your page helps optimise its reach and impact and is crucial as you later come to measure your success. So ensure you have clearly defined objectives that are realistic and achievable for your business.

 

Common Facebook Marketing Objectives;

  • Increase Brand Exposure and Awareness
  • Create a Loyal and Engaged Community
  • Generate Leads
  • Generate Sales

 

 Define Your Target Audience, Are They Using Facebook?

In addition to determining your objectives, having a clear idea of your target readers and if they are themselves using Facebook is key. If you do find your target audience is active on Facebook then you can tailor your posts effectively around content that maximises interest and engagement from your readers. It is also important to consider how your demographic behaves on social media whether they are people who actively comment or can be described as lurkers, as posts can then be tailored accordingly in order to maximise your potential for impact and engagement.

 

Do Your Research

Conducting research before you start using Facebook for business is fundamental to a successful presence. Your Facebook research should include these several key areas;

  • Identify your Target Audience – You will need to know important factors such as where they spend their time online, how they like to digest content and other general demographics.
  • Research your Competition – Find out what is and isn’t working for your competition on Facebook, find out what they do well and what they don’t and then apply it to your own strategy.
  • Understand the Latest Techniques – Make sure you are aware of the latest updates, tends and techniques on Facebook so that you can keep your page up to date, competitive and effective.
  • Case Studies – Compile examples of businesses that are similar to you and have thriving Facebook pages, look at what they do well, what their audience responds well to and other important factors that you can apply to your own efforts.
  • Facebook’s Future News, Updates and Projections – Ensure you track Facebook’s trends and updates as they regularly change so you need to keep your business up to date and effective.

 

Who is Going to Manage Your Page?

Whether you yourself are going to maintain your page or you are considering hiring an external consultant or agency, you need to clearly establish the person who will be running your page and ensure that they are equipped with the right knowledge and experience to know how to effectively maintain and run a page that is representative of your business and will become a valuable asset to your marketing efforts.

 

How are you Going to Promote Your Page?

You need to consider how you are going to promote your page and build awareness of it which involves you having to utilise all your relevant assets that you have available. Everything from your website, e- newsletter, corporate literature, blog, word of mouth to signage and business cards present an opportunity for you to advertise and promote your page. So be clear on what tools and assets you are going to use to help successfully drive traffic to your page.

 

Have you Got a Clear Content Strategy? How Often Will you Post?

Deciding on what major content categories you want to include regularly helps you to stay focused and maintains a clear direction for your posts to go in order to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and is targeting reader’s needs. Part of this process is to also determine how often you will post on your page as having a clear schedule of when you will be posting is paramount in order to ensure it is in line with your wider social media strategy. Creating content that people will interact with takes some thought and scheduling. Your first priority should always be to create content that your audience is interested in so look to experiment to find out the most effective content strategy and share a variety of different types of posts, at different times during the day and in different quantities. Through this initial experimentation you will find out valuable information that will guide your future strategy from what content resonates best with your audience, to the times they are most active on Facebook.

 

What is the Corporate Character of Your Page?

Defining the corporate character of your page has a crucial part to play in how successful your Facebook strategy will be as it is here that you will outline and determine how you are going to present yourself to your audience. This consideration involves establishing a clear vision of every aspect of your page from what your brand values are and how you will get them across, what tone of voice you will present, how you will apply your branding to the creative aspects of your page right through to the type of messages that you will be sharing.

  • Develop Your Facebook Voice – it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your page that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your business page is going to be managed by several different contributors. Put simply, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with your page.
  • Outline Creative Elements – Consistency should also be applied to the creative aspects of your Facebook page that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.

 


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

8 Point Checklist Before You Publish Your Next Blog Post

Have I Met my Goal for This Blog Post?

Whatever you set out to achieve with your blog post, whether it’s getting people to take part in research, purchase a product or sign up to your newsletter make sure that the material and links fully support your aim and you have clear and relevant call to actions. Having clear goals also makes it easier to measure your success later down the line and assess whether the blog post achieved what it set out to do.

 

Is my Post Easy to Read, Well- Developed and Presented?

Having a well- formatted blog post is crucial for both ease of read and keeping the attention of readers. Blog posts even when the tone is causal are ultimately still professional papers and when writing them you are representing your business as much as you do when at meetings and in general. From this, it is vital that you generate a structured blog template and form a routine before you publish around proofreading your post paying particular attention to several key areas;

  • Is your information bulleted and has numbered lists for easy consumption?
  • Are the links you use relevant and pointed to the correct webpage?
  • Have you used short and succinct sentences to get your point across successfully?
  • Are your section headings clear and specific to their individual points?
  • Is your post well concluded with good evidence?
  • Does the tone of voice/language fit the overall tone of your blog, and your brand’s editorial guidelines?
  • Did you use custom-made images and screenshots instead of stock photos whenever possible?
  • Have you given proper credit to the images/content you used in your blog post?
  • Have you taken to time to proofread and made sure your format is consistent with spacing between paragraphs as well as font styles and sizes?

 

Have I Directly Targeted my Audience in This Post?

You need to ensure that your blog post has been directly written with your target audience in mind. This involves you knowing and learning aspects about them from what content resonates best with them to what needs, interest, problems and questions they have as customers. So ensure your content contains specialised information that your customers will want to read. In doing so will not only will you be maximising interest and engagement from your readers, you will be proving your expertise in your industry.

 

Does my Post Contain Relevant Keywords?

In order to increase the potential for your blogs reach, every blog post you write should focus on and reiterate certain relevant keywords for your business. Ideally, when you are writing keep in mind 5-10 keywords and weave them into your content from the title through to the main sections of you post, taking care to not over flood your content making it unreadable and incoherent. As you become more comfortable with writing your posts you will soon find that you develop this skill to fully optimise your posts confidently.

 

Does the Title Grab my Attention and Make me Want to Click on it?

The main section of your blog post may be full of brilliant and valuable content, but if you don’t invest the time into creating an optimised your title that makes readers want to click on it, you are making a mistake. When forming a title consider whether you yourself would click on it, is it going to solve a common problem? Improve and aspect of your life or is it exciting exclusive content? Whatever you decide make sure it is compelling enough to click on and is optimised with keywords. You should also pay attention to the length of your title, bearing in mind that the optimal length is between 40 – 69 characters long. A shorter title may not be as descriptive and specific enough to capture attention, and a longer title will be cut off at 69 characters in search results, making your click-through rates likely to decrease.

 

Have I Backed up my Points with Good Evidence?

One of the key ways to become a trusted source of information is to provide content that is reliable and backed up with solid evidence to support what you are claiming. So before you publish your post make sure all the points you make are coherent and evidence is there that supports and justifies what you are claiming. Remember people may be making business decisions based on what you write so you must appear informed and reliable and give them clear reasons why what your saying is true and accurate.

 

Have I Included a Clear CTA?

By ensuring you include a clear call to action in every post you are making sure that each post is purposeful for your business. Whether you direct the reader to an external site or ask them to leave a comment for example you need to consistently encourage the reader to continue the interaction with you.

 

How am I Going to Promote this Post?

To ensure maximum reach and impact you need to consider how you are going to promote your post once it’s published. There are many tips later on in this section, but also consider the means of promotion you personally have at your disposal that can help get your blog post seen more.

 


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

How to Write an Effective Blog Post

Blogging offers an easy way for businesses to share informative content with subscribers, fans and followers. Blogs are often considered at the heart of social media as they present the opportunity for you share better, more engaging content than a typical update on social media. This allows you to provide more value in every piece of content you create, helping you to connect with your audience more and become a valued source of information. Follow these top tips to ensure every blog post you write has maximum impact!

 

Headline

The headline represents one of the most important parts of your blog post. It is the deciding factor on whether a reader is compelled enough to click on and read your blog post or not and for this reason it needs to grab attention and be concise in stating to the reader the benefit of clicking the link and reading the content. Don’t stress out over your blog titles before you start writing. Often, the best titles come after you have already written a post. That being said, it can be helpful to come up with a basic title before you start writing. Whilst 9 times out of 10, you’ll change this title later on, it will in the beginning give you some direction and focus as you write. Whilst there is no definitive perfect headline template, there are several key characteristics of a powerful headline that compels the reader to click on. Powerful headlines are very concise and specific, they focus on the reader and what interests them and also are keyword-optimised ensuring the right type of reader is going to find them.

 

  • Focus on Blog Title Accuracy

Whilst it may be tempting (and is relatively easy) to come up with a headline that gets clicked, for example “10 Tips To Increase Your Productivity By 10,000%”. These types of crazy, outlandish headlines will ultimately destroy your credibility. You need to ensure that whichever headline format you decide on, the basic premise of your title is accurate and when people click on your headline they are genuinely pleased with the content they discover as it meets their expectations and delivers on whatever promise the headline made.

  • Keep your Blog Title Length Short

According to Kissmetrics, the ideal length for a headline is just 6 words as it is easily digestible, short and snappy. When it’s not possible to stick to a 6-word limit however, Buffer suggests using your most important words at the beginning and end of your titles where readers are most likely to notice them.

  • Optimise your Blog Title for SEO and Click-throughs

If you want your blog posts to rank for specific keywords or phrases, placing these in your title is vital. Using keywords in your titles is also very important for getting people to click on your posts in the SERP’s (search engine results pages). When people search for a particular phrase, they’re highly likely to click on search results that closely match their search term.

  • Google Search

While it is important to include your keywords in your title, you also want to make sure your title is catchy and clickable and makes readers actually want to click through.

  • A/B Testing can Make all the Difference

Testing out various headlines on your audience is a time consuming but vital task as having the right headline can make all the difference

 

Example Headline Templates That Grab Attention

  • How to Get The ______ you Want Using ______
  • 5 Secrets your ______ Won’t Tell you About ______
  • 10 Things ______ Can Teach You About ______
  • 5 Little Known Ways to ______
  • The Ultimate Step by Step Guide to ______
  • Best Practises for ______
  • 100 Shocking Statistics About ______
  • Now You Too Can Have ______ with These 5 Easy Steps
  • How to be a World-Class ______ Like ______
  • How to ______ a ______ You Can Be Proud Of
  • 10 Things you Must Know About ______ But Don’t
  • 15 Things you Never Knew about ______
  • 5 Unexpected ways to be Successful at ______
  • Why Your Business Needs to Know About  ______
  • 3 Things You Must Do After ______
  • How to ______ in ______Days
  • 20 ______ Every  ______ Should Include
  • 10 ______ Mistakes that I Should Have Done Differently
  • Why I Don’t Do ______
  • 11 ______ Tips I Wish I Had Known

 

 

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph or introduction is meant to provide the setup for the main content and put the subject matter into context. This section of the blog post needs to clearly explain to the reader what your blog post is going to address and compel them to feel as though they will achieve a significant benefit from reading on and taking in what you have to say. As a general guide there are several key characteristics of a successful opening paragraph that you need to include.

  • Be Direct: Online readers prefer to be clearly told what they are about to read and why they should do so. So avoid over complicated, artsy style writing and make it clear to the reader what you are talking about and why they should listen and take note.
  • Be Concise and Compelling: The success of getting readers to read your whole post lies in how well you convince them at the start of your blog post that they simply have to read on. So whether you are offering exclusive content, a competition or some highly valuable advice, make it clear to the reader and in doing so give them a compelling reason to want to read on.
  • Be Bold and Creative: Ensure you set yourself apart from other generic blog posts by being creative. Don’t stick to generic writing styles, layouts and subject matter as being bold but still informative and valuable can attract a lot of attention and encourage a reader to carry on and read the whole post.

 

The Main Body

The main section of your blog will provide the substance to what you have outlined in your title and opening paragraph.  It is important within this section you adhere to several characteristics that constitute a well written blog post;

  • Logical Structure – You need to ensure that your blog follows a clear and logical structure that flows coherently, making the topic easy for your reader to understand.
  • Short and Succinct Sentences – Short and succinct sentences ensure readers keep interest as it makes your content easily scannable and digestible, an important aspect for skim readers.
  • Examples and Evidence – Providing evidence and examples that back up your points helps you appear more of an authority with your writing as well as helping your readers to grasp concepts by offering clear and obvious examples that clearly support what you are discussing.
  • Images Having a variety of images helps the visual appeal of your post as they break up the blocks of text and help to visually illustrate specific points.

 

Conclusion

The conclusion should be a short statement that clearly summarises and wraps up your post. This is the area when you should also include a clear call to action in which you direct the reader onto a next step after they have finished reading your post. Whether it is a link to an external site or encourages them to subscribe, you need to ensure the connection with you doesn’t end when your blog post does.

 

Proof Reading and Optimisation

Once you have finished writing your blog you need to consider the important factors of proof reading and optimisation before you publish your post. This process includes a thorough read through of your blog looking into areas such as formatting, grammar, spelling, keyword placement and other optimisation opportunities. Look to analyse these several key areas;

  • Strategically Placed Keywords – By including relevant keywords and phrases that your target readers are using and strategically placing them throughout your blog post you tailor your content in a way that is going to ensure you are targeting reader’s needs and the chance for maximum search engine visibility. Look to strategically place these keywords across your post from your URL, to your blog title and subheadings.
  • General Formatting – Ensure your blog post is readable and visually appealing by thoroughly checking your formatting and paying attention to key areas such as including sub-headings to help break up text, breaking large blocks of text with images, being consistent with font choice and text size and generally ensuring ease of read with succinct sentence structure and clearly made points.
  • Correct Links and Visuals – If you have included links ensure that they point to the correct location. If you have included visuals such as pictures and videos also ensure you reference and credit where you got them from.

 

8 Quick Content Ideas for Blog Posts

 

  • Tips and How-To’s

Providing informative tips, advice and how-to posts can be very useful to your customers and has the added benefit of promoting your product and its uses.

  • Behind the Scenes/ A Day in the Life of

People love to see behind the scenes as it shows them an aspect of your business that they wouldn’t normally see. ‘Day in the life’ posts are a popular example.

  • Contests and Other Exclusive Content

Running a contest and sharing exclusive content always generate engagement and interest. Just make sure the content and/or prize you offer is relevant and valuable to your audience.

  • Relevant Industry News and Updates

If you know any relevant news/ events that are going to interest or affect your customers then share it with them and you will become a trusted industry news source.

  • Compile a Useful Resource List

If you come across any valuable and informative resources such as links, websites, books and products related to your business and industry, then share it with your customers. This can go some way towards establishing your blog as a trusted source of information.

  • Customer Testimonials / Success Stories

A customer testimonial goes a long way in terms of establishing credibility and interest in your product or service. So if you have received a good recommendation or someone has found another useful use for your product then share it on your blog.

  • Interviews with Industry Leaders/ Key Figures

If you have an industry expert that is of interest to your customers or have celebrity contacts then conducting an interview and sharing it on your blog is a sure fire way to attract attention, even more so if they share exclusive content.

  • Content that Helps Humanise Your Brand

Sharing stories from your business founders, staff members, charity work to your business morals and values and your business highs and lows helps your audience get to know and care about you as it shows there exists a real human behind your real business.

 

Top Tip: There are plenty of ideas for content out there. Every book you read, event you attend, blog you visit and interview on the news you hear, is rich with ideas for content. So keep your eye out and keep a notepad handy so you always write down any ideas. But what happens for those times when you run dry? Here are four tools to help generate content for your blog:

 

  • Google Trends: Google Trends keeps you up to date on the day-to-day pulse of your audiences’ interests. With Google Trends you can see the frequency and popularity of Google searches related to your topic and test the subject with Google Trends.
  • MyBlogU: This free online platform allows you to crowdsource and brainstorm with other content creators.
  • Quora: This is a crowd-sourced, question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organised by its community of users. This can help lead you to the types of questions that real people are asking. As well as having the benefit of building your authority, engagement, and traffic from being a regular contributor on Quora.
  • Buzzsumo: A fantastic source for research, with Buzzsumo you enter a topic or a URL in its search box and then displays a wealth of information. Buzzsumo provides backlinks and shows the content that performs best on social media.

 


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! Head over there now for more of a Free preview! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

The Ultimate Checklist for Your Social Media Marketing Plan

‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’

Whilst Benjamin Franklin wasn’t speaking to the owner of a local cupcake company looking to start a Facebook page when he said those words, they still ring true when it comes to a business starting out on social media. Just as you wouldn’t set up a business without a business plan, you can’t just jump straight into social media, start aimlessly posting and expect the customers to come rolling in. Rather, you have to sit down, grab a cup of coffee and develop a clear social media strategy. While there’s no one-size fits all solution, you can find social media success if you’re armed with the right questions to get you started. After all, a plan equals focus and focus is what is going to drive your business forward online.

What Objectives do I Want my Business to Achieve by Using Social Media?

Whether you want to use your social media presence to gain exposure for your brand, directly educate and interact with your customers, promote specific products and services or all of the above, clearly identifying your objectives is the critical first step towards a successful social media presence. Identifying your objectives in the beginning ensures a multitude of critical elements of your social media marketing, it allows you to effectively tailor your content and posting schedule, provide value to your customers, right through to helping you accurately measure your success as you will be aware of the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently.

 

Common Social Media Objectives

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Website
  • Provide Customer Service
  • Engage with Fans
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Launch New Products or Services
  • Generate Leads and Increase Sales
  • Research and Insights
  • Build Your Community
  • Improve SEO
  • Competitive Analysis

 

What is the State of My Current Social Media Use?

If you are already present on social media, you need to take a good hard look at your content from the eyes of a new (or potential) fan or follower. There is a whole host of important questions you need to ask yourself when you look through your online presence. Here’s a few taken from the checklist I use when I conduct a Social Media Audit;

  • Assess their presence: has it been thought through? Profile/cover photo/about section completed, effective and branded?
  • Can potential followers immediately get a sense of company culture, products and services on offer?
  • Content: How does their content support their strategy? What content receives the most clicks, likes and shares? Are they sharing engaging content? Do they encourage engagement? Offer something valuable/useful? How often is it updated? Are they engaging back with fans? Do they use hashtags effectively? How do they use images to tell the company story?
  • How are the individual platforms being used to drive traffic to the main web presence? Is it clear what the next step is that they want fans/followers to take? Call to actions in tweets/pins/posts?
  • Record numbers of followers and following – are they both relevant and targeted audience?
  • When the last time was their Twitter / Facebook/Pinterest etc. presence was updated?
  • What feedback do they get from followers?

 

Who are My Target Audience?

Determining the audience that you want to reach and engage with on social media is fundamental to your strategy.  Whether your target audience is your current or potential clients or customers, affiliate businesses, thought leaders or all four, your aim is to create a successful social media strategy that matches and is tailored towards understanding and acting on your target audience’s behaviours online. Creating Buyer personas helps you define and target the right people, in the right places, at the right times with the right messages. When you learn important factors about your target audience from their age, job status, income, interests, problems, to their likes, dislikes, motivations, where they spend their time online and in what format they like to digest their content online then it becomes easier to target them on social media. The key is to remember that the more specific you are the more successful and targeted you are going to be with your social media strategy that will bring real results and conversions for your business.

 

What Platforms am I Going to use for my Business?

What platforms you choose to use will ultimately depend on where your customers are and which ones are best suited for your business. Spend the time researching where your current customers are online and what platforms can be best utilised with your resources and business. The key is to not spread yourself too thinly across lots of social media platforms just because you think this will gain your business more exposure, rather it is much more effective to run a handful of platforms consistently and efficiently and to spend the time reviewing the platforms you are on to make sure they are as effective as they can be. You should also keep up to date with research into new technologies and platforms that your business could potentially utilise in the future.

Selecting the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

Each social media platforms is unique, with its own best practices, style, and audience. The key to choosing the right social media platforms relies on you having a clear understanding of your objectives for social media, your target audience and what resources/ information you have to share. Simply put, choose the ones that best fit your strategy and the goals you want to achieve on social media. You don’t have to be on them all—just the ones that matter to you and your audience.

To help you decide the best platform, ultimately ask yourself these questions;

  • Purpose – What information do you want to share with and communicate to your audience?
  • Format – In what format is the best way to present this information? Videos, Podcasts, extended pieces of writing etc.
  • Platform – Which social media platform will allow me to share this message best and which platform has the correct audience that I want to reach?
  • Time – How much time can I devote to a social network? Aim for at least an hour per day per social network. Once you get going, tools like Buffer can help you effectively manage your time.
  • Resources – What personnel and skills do you have to work with? Visual social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram require good quality images. Social platforms like blogging emphasize quality content. Do you have the resources to create what’s needed?
  • Audience – Where do your potential customers hang out? Which social network has the right demographics for you?

 

Have I Done my Research?

A successful social media presence is always aided by a good, solid foundation of prior research. You should look to do initial research into key areas such as your competitor’s social media, your target audience demographics, the latest trends and news in social media, marketing and business as well as many others. Conducting research and paying attention to changes in your industry and audience for example should also be a regular and active occurrence as things, especially social media, evolve and change so you need to keep up to date to ensure your strategy is as relevant and effective as possible.

  • Market Research – Who is your target audience? How do they behave on social media? Where are they online?
  • Competitors – Which platforms are your competitors using? Are they directly engaging with prospects online? What are they good at online? In which areas could they improve? Can you get case studies? (Both successful and unsuccessful examples?)
  • Latest Business and Social Media News, Trends and Techniques – Do you know the latest techniques on your social media platforms that are effective? What is changing in social media and/or business that could affect your marketing?

 

Am I Clear on My Marketing Voice and Tone?

The temptation at this point might be to jump right in and start sharing. Before you do however, it is crucial to cultivate a voice and tone of your marketing that effectively encompasses your brand.

To help you with this, start with questions like these:

  • If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer? (A trainer, friend, family member etc.)
  • What do you want your customers to think about your company?
  • Describe what your company’s personality is not
  • Are there any companies that have a similar personality to yours? Why are they similar?

 

Who is Going to set up and Maintain my Businesses Social Media Platforms?

In the beginning you will need to decide who will implement and maintain your social media accounts. Whether you want to run them in-house or hire a social-media marketing manager or firm, you need to ensure that the person who is in charge of your platforms can effectively represent your brand and has the know-how to create and maintain a successful social media presence. That person is going to ultimately control how your business is presented to others in the online world so you need to be absolutely confident that they are the right person for you and your business.

 

Have I Chosen My Core Topics?

The key to a successful content strategy is finding the core topics you want your business to be known for and the topics that attract and keep the attention of fans and followers. What topics or categories best represent your company? For most this is a combination of 3 areas,

  • Your Passion – the topic you are passionate and love to talk about
  • Your Assets – the topic you’re known for and skilled and trained in
  • Market Reality – is there a demand on social media for the type of content you are offering?

 

What Resources/ Content do I Have at my Disposal?

Each social media platform has a certain type of content that is best suited towards it, for example Pinterest is inherently visual and as such requires good-quality and memorable images to be effective. From this, you need to understand what type of content that the platforms you are using is most effective and importantly what content resonates best with your audience. Once you are clear on both these aspects, you will be able to form an effective content strategy with maximised effectiveness. It is important that you share with your audience a diverse and interesting mix of content types that encourages engagement so you need to think about the types of questions you will ask, updates you will share and ultimately what resources you have that you can utilise and repurpose for your social media platforms.

 

What Should I be Posting?

A quick glance through any social media article, research and blog post will show an emphasis and push towards sharing visual content. This trend towards the visual has plenty of anecdotal evidence too, with it being a widely known fact that image posts get more views, clicks, re-shares, and likes than any other type of post. On Facebook, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. Similarly for Twitter, in a study of over two million tweets from verified users across a number of different industries, Twitter found that photos have the greatest effect on retweets. Photos average a 35% boost in Retweets with Videos getting a 28% boost. What does this mean for your business? Simple. You must prioritise producing good quality visuals in your social media content strategy.

So now we have established that you need to incorporate the visual into your content strategy. It’s time to take a look at what elements should make up your other content. There are hundreds of rules, strategies and theories on the best way and most effective ways to structure your content, the most used and most simple but effective strategy I use is the 70:20:10 rule.

 

The 70:20:10 rule

As a general rule of thumb, the rule states;

  • 70% of posts should add value and be brand and business building, stuff that your followers will find interesting, valuable and insightful and that supports who you are as a company.
  • 20% should share ideas or content from other sources e.g. blogs, digital PR, websites, other social media channels etc.
  • 10% should be self- promotional – your offers, discounts, marketing and promotional, sales etc.

 

21 Quick-Fire Example Content Ideas

  • Business Tips: People love to hear valuable business tips.
  • Humour/Relatable: Whether it’s a funny meme or something funny that’s happened in your life or your business, share it.
  • Inspiration/Motivation: Inspiration is the number one most shared type of content across every social media platform.
  • Open-Ended Questions: People love to talk and they love to answer questions.
  • Offers and Deals: Did you know that getting deals is still the number one reason that people like brands on Facebook? We all love a good deal.
  • Behind the Scenes/Sneak Peeks: People love to feel like they’re a part of what’s happening in your business.
  • Opinions: You can give yours and/or simply ask for theirs. People love to give their feedback and feel like their voice is being heard.
  • Industry News: There’s a huge value proposition in this. Firstly, you are educating your community on things that are happening in your space or in your niche. Secondly, doing this routinely will help you become an industry news or thought leader.
  • Fill in the Blanks: It’s an alternative way to phrase a question and the best ones only require a one or two-word answer, which makes it easier for your fans and followers to answer and engage with.
  • Strike Up a Conversation: Take the time to strike up a conversation. It’s a great way to build relationships.
  • Testimonials: Let people know that other people value your services or your products.
  • Open Q&A’s: Are a great way to provide value and get some real-time engagement with your followers.
  • Polls: You can use a poll for a number of different things like collecting opinions and/or ideas. Polls are a great engagement tool, but it’s also a great way to get great information.
  • Caption a Photo: Asking your fans and followers to caption a photo normally elicits good engagement.
  • Make Predictions: People love predictions. They want to know what you think.
  • Crowd Source Ideas: Ask other people for ideas. Whether you’re getting ready to do a new product or anything of that nature…ask!
  • Highlight Your Customers: Let your social media followers know that you value them. It’s important.
  • Tech Tips or Tools: People love tools and they love tech tips.
  • Advice: if you have some great advice and you feel like its valuable then share it.
  • Share Video or Audio Clips: In some cases video and audio posts are more impactful than a simple text based or image post.
  • ASK!: Ask your followers what content they want to see.

What is my Publishing Schedule?

Whilst it is wonderfully easy for you to be told from a social media expert that you should post 2 Facebook posts a day, 10 Tweets and 2 Blog posts a week for example, the ironclad and definitive answer to the questions ‘What, When and How often should I post?’ is simple: It depends. Everything about the social media experience is about your individual audience and niche. What works for you might not work for me… the important thing is that you experiment and learn what does work for you.

Your publishing schedule is going to be ultimately dictated by three things, your business capabilities, the platform you’re using and your audience needs. In the beginning you will need to experiment to find a publishing schedule that works best for your business, goals and readers and is the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants. Part of this consideration is also understanding the nature of the platform you’re using to publish and whether it is one such as Twitter that favours several short updates per day or Facebook where posting 7+ times a week is effective. Ultimately, when you are creating a publishing schedule you need to ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently? Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the most effective schedule for you, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value, maximising value and engagement from readers and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

How Often Should you be Posting?

As you have come to realise, everything about a business social media experience is unique to you. There is no one size fits all approach to what content to post, just like there is not one for about how often to post to social media either. Some of the factors that will impact your specific sharing frequency may include your industry, your reach, your resources, the quality of your updates and the social network you’re using. The best way to discover the ideal posting frequency is by looking at your own analytics and several tools available in the market, these are a great way to show you the best time of day to post on your social media platforms, how often and even when your audience is online. So what are you to do if you are just starting out on these social networks, with no audience and no history? This is where best practices come in. As a good example, SumAll, which compiled timing research from sites like Visual.ly, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Today has created a great visual resource of what their extensive research found in terms of timing.

  • Twitter – 1-3pm weekdays
  • Facebook – 1-4pm and 2-5pm weekdays
  • LinkedIn – 7-8:30am and 5-6pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
  • Tumblr – 7-10pm weekdays and 4pm on Fridays
  • Instagram – 5-6pm weekdays and 8pm on Mondays with a sweet spot at 6pm
  • Pinterest: 2-4pm and 8-11pm weekdays with weekends being the best
  • Google+: 9-11am weekdays

How am I Going to Ensure my Business Branding is Representative and Consistent?

Having a social media presence is a great way to show a wider audience who you are, what you stand for and ultimately why they should love you. From this, it is important that you know clearly what your brand stands for and how this is going to be conveyed consistently and accurately across your platforms. This consideration needs to be applied to everything from the voice you want for your brand that can be consistently applied across all your posts to the creative aspects of your platforms- that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your social media platforms it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand.

 

Am I Going to Have to Create a Written Social Media Policy for my Employees?

If there are going to be several different administrators of your platforms or you run a business with staff members who have personal and/or business social media accounts, it is well worth creating a social media policy for your staff to sign so everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when they are representing or discussing your business online.

Have I Considered My Mobile Strategy?

With ever increasing numbers of people accessing the internet and social media platforms from their mobile devices, it is vital that you optimise your profiles for mobile users and give them a mobile friendly experience. Therefore you should test and experiment with your platforms to see how they look on both your desktop and a variety of other mobile devices to ensure you provide a seamless experience for those visiting your social media platforms no matter what device they are viewing them from. When assessing your site from different devices, you should check for several key areas such as; do your images still remain high quality? Are the social media sharing buttons clearly positioned and working properly? If text is used, it is readable on a small screen? The time you spend to perfect your platforms from your desktop should also be spent on making your site work for mobile too, if you fail to do so then you could lose traffic and sales as you will not be providing users with a good experience.

 

How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Social Media Marketing Efforts?

Tracking your social-media marketing metrics is a fundamental part of the social media marketing process as it helps gauge which tactics are successful and which areas are in need of improvement. Put a plan in place that allows you to track, measure and assess your results consistently to see what content/strategies resonates best and to ensure you are successfully meeting your social media objectives and if they are still relevant to you. Adjust your strategy and your content when appropriate to keep your social media content fresh and your information topical. The more you post, the more you’ll discover which content, timing, and frequency is right for you.

Ultimately, Have I got a Clear Strategy?

Having a clear idea on every aspect of your social media marketing strategy is key to its success. Ultimately, you should easily be able to answer confidently and with clarity the below questions that form a basic social media marketing strategy. Part of maintaining a strong, successful presence is also to regularly assess whether certain aspects of your original strategy have changed (For example are your objectives still the same? Is there a new social media platform that your audience is using?) and then adjust your efforts accordingly. As you become a regular participant on social media you will find ways in which you need to improve certain areas and areas in which you excel in, so never stop learning and listening to what your audience and your analytics tell you.

 

Keep referring back to this handy checklist;

 

Setting Goals

  • Why have I joined social media?
  • What is my brand’s overall purpose?
  • What does my business aim to achieve with social media?

 

Audience

  • Who is our target audience?
  • Which social networks do they use?
  • What topics and sources of information are most important to them?
  • What problems can I help them solve?
  • What jobs can I help them complete?

 

My Brand

  • What is my brand voice?
  • What is the overall tone of my social media updates?
  • What emotions do I hope to convey through my brand’s messaging?

 

Content

  • What types of content should I post on which social platforms?
  • What type of content best supports my content marketing aims?
  • What are the main topics, categories or messages that support my brand?
  • Should I use social media to provide customer service?

 

Content Creation

  • What realistic resources do we have?
  • Who should set up and maintain my company’s social media accounts?
  • What is the workflow from content creation to publication?
  • How often should I post new content on my social networks?
  • How does social media fit with our other campaigns?

 

Measuring Success

  • How will I measure ROI and define success with my social media strategy?
  • What is working with my social media marketing efforts?
  • What is the customer journey from search to purchase?
  • Where does social media fit within my funnel?

The Beginners Guide to Creating an Effective Facebook Marketing Strategy

Developing a Facebook strategy with clear objectives in the beginning is fundamental to a successful presence. Identifying your plan of action plays a key role in the success of your efforts from knowing how to tailor your content and posting schedule to maximise effectiveness, how to ensure you provide value to your customers right through to helping you to accurately know how which are the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently. Developing a clear and concise strategy needn’t be a daunting task however, simply ensure you are clear on the answers to the following questions!


 

DETERMINE YOUR FACEBOOK BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

One of the first things you must do is determine what you want your Facebook Page to achieve for your business. Whether you want to use it to drive more traffic to your website, promote your events or use it as an outlet to build your brand by engaging your community, having clear objectives for your page helps optimise its reach and impact and is crucial as you later come to measure your success. So ensure you have clearly defined objectives that are realistic and achievable for your business.

 Common Facebook Marketing Objectives

  • Increase Brand Exposure and Awareness
  • Create a Loyal and Engaged Community
  • Generate Leads
  • Generate Sales

 

DEFINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE, ARE THEY USING FACEBOOK?

In addition to determining your objectives, having a clear idea of your target readers and if they are themselves using Facebook is key. If you do find your target audience is active on Facebook then you can tailor your posts effectively around content that maximises interest and engagement from your readers. It is also important to consider how your demographic behaves on social media whether they are people who actively comment or can be described as lurkers, as posts can then be tailored accordingly in order to maximise your potential for impact and engagement.


 

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Conducting research before you start using Facebook for business is fundamental to a successful presence. Your Facebook research should include these several key areas;

Identify your Target Audience -You will need to know important factors such as where they spend their time online, how they like to digest content and other general demographics.

Research your Competition -Find out what is and isn’t working for your competition on Facebook, find out what they do well and what they don’t and then apply it to your own strategy.

Understand the Latest Techniques -Make sure you are aware of the latest updates, tends and techniques on Facebook so that you can keep your page up to date, competitive and effective.

Case Studies -Compile examples of businesses that are similar to you and have thriving Facebook pages, look what they do well, what their audience respond well to and other important factors that you can apply to your own efforts.

Facebook’s Future News, Updates and Projections -Ensure you track Facebook’s trends and updates as they regularly change so you need to keep your business up to date and effective.


 

WHO IS GOING TO MANAGE YOUR PAGE?

Whether you yourself are going to maintain your page or you are considering hiring an external consultant or agency, you need to clearly establish the person/people who will be running your page and ensure that they are equipped with the right knowledge and experience to know how to effectively maintain and run a page that is representative of your business and will become a valuable asset to your marketing efforts.

 


 

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PROMOTE YOUR PAGE?

You need to consider how you are going to promote your page and build awareness of your page which involves you having to utilise all your relevant assets that you have available. Everything from your website, e-newsletter, corporate literature, blog, word of mouth to signage and business cards present an opportunity for you to advertise and promote your page. So be clear on what tools and assets you are going to use to help successfully drive traffic to your page. Part of this process is to also consider how each post is going to fit in with and enhance your other marketing efforts. Consider questions such as how am I going to use my other platforms to promote my posts when they are published? And how can each post supplement this week’s promotional strategy?

 


 

HAVE YOU GOT A CLEAR CONTENT STRATEGY? HOW OFTEN WILL YOU POST?

Deciding on what major content categories you want to include regularly helps you to stay focused and maintains a clear direction for your posts to go in order to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and is targeting reader’s needs. Part of this process is also to determine how often you will post on your page as having a clear schedule of when you will be posting is paramount in order to ensure it is in line with your wider social media strategy. Creating content that people will interact with takes some thought and scheduling. Your first priority should always be to create content that your audience is interested in so look to experiment to find out the most effective content strategy and share a variety of different types of posts, at different times during the day and in different quantities as through this initial experimentation you will find out valuable information that will guide your future strategy from what content resonates best with your audience, to the times they are most active on Facebook.

 


 

WHAT IS THE CORPORATE CHARACTER OF YOUR PAGE?

Defining the corporate character of your page has a crucial part to play in how successful your Facebook strategy will be as it is here that you will outline and determine how you are going to present yourself to your audience. This consideration involves establishing a clear vision of every aspect of your page from what your brand values are and how you will get them across, what tone of voice you will present, how you will apply your branding to the creative aspects of your page to the type of messages that you will be sharing.

Develop Your Facebook Voice -it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your page that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your business page is going to be managed by several different contributors. Put simply, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with your page.

Outline Creative Elements -Consistency should also be applied to the creative aspects of your Facebook page that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.

 


 

An important thing to remember is that as you become a regular participant on Facebook, you will find unique ways in which it can be used to the best advantage for your business so your strategy will develop and change with time. The important thing is to learn by doing!


 

Create A Winning Social Media Marketing Plan With This Easy Peasy Checklist ✔️

Developing a clear, concise and thorough social media marketing plan should be the first thing any business does when starting to use social media to market their business. Having a clear plan will make the difference between a social media presence that thrives and is effective and one that isn’t. Constructing your plan needn’t be a daunting task however, it is simple answering several key questions to ensure that you clearly know the direction to take to develop an effective presence that helps you achieve the results you want for your business. Start your marketing plan today by answering these several fundamental questions;


 

What Objectives do I want my Business to Achieve by Using Social Media?

Whether you want to use your social media presence to gain exposure for your brand, directly educate and interact with your customers, promote specific products and services or all of the above, clearly identifying your objectives is the critical first step towards a successful social media presence. Identifying your objectives in the beginning ensures you will be able to tailor your content and posting schedule to maximise effectiveness and provide value to your customers. Having clear objectives also ultimately helps you to accurately measure your success as you will be aware of the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently.

Common Social Media Objectives

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Website
  • Providing Customer Service
  • Engage with Fans
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Launch New Products or Services
  • Generate Leads
  • Increase Sales
  • Research and Insight
  • Build your Community
  • Improve SEO
  • Competitive Analysis

 

What Platforms am I Going to use for my Business?

What you platforms you choose to use will ultimately depend on where your customers are and what are right for your business. Spend the time researching where your current customers are online and what platforms can be best utilized with your resources and business. The key is to not spread yourself too thinly across lots of social media platforms just because you think this will gain your business more exposure, rather it is much more effective to run a handful of platforms consistently and efficiently and to spend the time reviewing the platforms you are on to make sure they are as effective as they can be. You should also keep up to date with research into new technologies and platforms that your business could potentially utilise in the future.

Selecting the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

The key to choosing the right social media platforms relies on you having a clear understanding of your objectives for social media, your target audience and what resources/ information you have to share as having a clear idea of these will inform you of which platforms are going to be the most effective for you. Ultimately ask yourself these three questions;

Purpose – What information do you want to share with and communicate to your audience?
Format – In what format is the best way to present this information? Videos, Podcasts, extended pieces of writing etc.
Platform – Which social media platform will allow me to share this message best and which platform has the correct audience that I want to reach?

 


Have I Done my Research?

A successful social media presence is always aided by a good, solid foundation of prior research. You should look to do initial research into key areas such as your competitor’s social media, your target audience demographics, the latest trends and news in social media, marketing and business as well as many others. Conducting research and paying attention to changes in your industry and audience for example should also be a regular and active occurrence as things, especially social media, evolve and change so you need to keep up to date to ensure your strategy is as relevant and effective as possible.

Market Research – Who is your target audience? How do they behave on social media? Where are they online?

Your Competitors – Which platforms your competitors are using? Are they directly engaging with prospects online? What are they good at online? In which areas could they improve? Can you get case studies? (both successful and unsuccessful examples?

Latest business and social media news, trends and techniques – Do you know the latest techniques on your social media platforms that are effective? What is changing in social media and/or business that could affect your marketing?

 


Who are My Target Audience?

Determining the audience that you want to reach and engage with on social media is fundamental to your strategy. Whether your target audience is your current or potential clients or customers, affiliate businesses, thought leaders or all four, your aim is to create a successful social media strategy that matches and is tailored towards understanding and acting on your target audience’s behaviors online. What are your target audience’s interests? Where do they spend their time online? In what format do they like to digest their content online? These are a few of many questions that you need to know the answers to in order to develop a successful and targeted social media strategy that will bring real results for your business.

 


Who is Going to Set up and Maintain My Business Social Media Platforms?

In the beginning you will need to decide who will implement and maintain your social media accounts. Whether you want to run them in-house or hire a social-media marketing manager or firm, you need to ensure that the person who is in charge of your platforms can effectively represent your brand and know how to create and maintain a successful social media presence. That person is going to ultimately control how your business is presented to others in the online world so you need to be absolutely confident that they are the right person for you and your business.

 


What is my Publishing Schedule?

Your publishing schedule is going to be ultimately dictated by three things, your business capabilities, the platform you’re using and your audience needs. In the beginning you will need to experiment to find a publishing schedule that works best for your business, goals and readers and is the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants. Part of this consideration is also understanding the nature of the platform you’re using to publish and whether it is one such as Twitter that favours several short updates per day or Facebook where posting 3 – 5 times a week is effective. Ultimately, how often you post is different for everyone and personal to your business so you when you are creating a publishing schedule you need to ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently?, Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the most effective schedule for you, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value, maximising value and engagement from readers and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

 


 

How am I Going to Ensure my Business Branding is Representative and Consistent?

Having a social media presence is a great way to show a wider audience who you are, what you stand for and ultimately why they should love you. From this, it is important that you know clearly what your brand stands for and how this is going to be conveyed consistently and accurately across your platforms. This consideration needs to be applied to everything from the voice you want for your brand that can be consistently applied across all your posts to the creative aspects of your platforms- that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your social media platforms it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand.


 

What Resources/ Content do I have at my Disposal?

Each social media platform has a certain type of content that is best suited towards it, for example Pinterest and Instagram are both inherently visual and as such require good-quality and memorable images to be effective. From this, you need to understand what type of content that the platforms you are using are most effective and importantly what content resonates best with your audience. Once you are clear on both these aspects, you will be able to form an effective content strategy with maximised effectiveness. It is important that you share with your audience a diverse and interesting mix of content types that encourages engagement so you need to think about the types of questions you will ask, updates you will share and ultimately what resources do you have that you can utilise and repurpose for your social media platforms.

 


 

How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Social Media Marketing Efforts?

Tracking your social-media marketing metrics is fundamental as it helps gauge which tactics are successful and which areas are in need of improvement. From this, you need to have a clear vision of what your business objectives are for your social media presence and subsequently what are the most effective metrics you should therefore be analysing to ensure you are reaching those objectives. So whether you want to boost your personal brand through LinkedIn or use Facebook to drive traffic to your site, ensure you have clear objectives with your platforms and routinely assess whether you are successfully meeting those objectives and they are still relevant to you, and if they’re not then you will need to reevaluate.

 


Am I Going to Have to Create a Written Social Media Policy for my Employees?

If there are going to be several different administrators of your platforms or you run a business with staff members who have personal and/or business social media accounts, it is well worth creating a social media policy for your staff to sign so everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when they are representing or discussing your business online.

 


Ultimately, Have I got a Clear Strategy?

Having a clear idea on every aspect of your social media marketing strategy is key to its success. Ultimately, you should easily be able to answer confidently and with clarity the below questions that form a basic marketing strategy. Part of maintaining a strong, successful presence is also to regularly assess whether certain aspects of your original strategy have changed (For example are your objectives still the same? Is there a new social media platform that your audience is using?) and then adjust your efforts accordingly. As you become a regular participant on social media you will find ways in which you need to improve certain areas and areas in which you excel in, so never stop learning and listening to what your audience and your analytics tell you.

  • Why do I need social media?
  • Who will be responsible for social networking?
  • Who are my audience?
  • What do I want to tell them?
  • How am I going to tell them?
  • What content am I going to create?
  • How often am I going to post?
  • Which social media sites will I use?
  • What tools will I use to measure my success?