Everyone wants to know, “What social media platform should I focus on if I am just starting out?” or “Where do I begin my social media marketing if I am starting from scratch?” These are not questions that have a simple answer, although everyone wishes they did. If only the answer was, “Just post one piece of content each day on Facebook. That is how to begin” or “Definitely start on Twitter. That's where you should always begin.”
I love springtime and gardening. I'm not that good at it yet, but every year I want to know what I need to do to plant and nurture a beautiful garden. What should I do first? What's the easy way to plant 100 bulbs? Gardening is a lot like starting out, or reviving a stalled social media marketing plan. There is no quick and easy button.
The reality is, there are several things you will want to do if you are starting from zero and putting together your marketing plan. Of course, you need to take some time to really explore who your ideal audience is. Sure you want to target everyone, but as the saying goes, if your content is for everyone, it is for no one. After identifying your ideal (keyword there is IDEAL) customer, do some research to find out which social media platforms they are active on. Where are they engaged? What type of content are they commenting on and sharing?
Now it' s time to fire up two engines simultaneously — your content creation engine and your community building engine. It's like love and marriage, or peanut butter and jelly. You can't have one without the other.
You need to begin sharing your expertise and creating content that you can draw people in with. Your blog content can be written or it can be video, or perhaps a little of both. The core of your social media marketing is your blog or website. You have to spend time creating content there that you will share on your social channels. Set a schedule to write one post per month or one per week, depending on the amount of time you have. [READ: 8 Blogging Tips to Connect Better with Your Readers]
Create Content for Your Social Media Channels
There is a temptation when starting out on social media, to just start connecting with people. But if they come and see an empty profile, you may have a harder time getting people to connect back with you. Before connecting and inviting people to come over and LIKE or FOLLOW your brand, decorate the house just a little. Be sure you have 7-10 posts loaded on any social channel you are using so when someone comes to check you out, there is enough there for them to know what your area of focus is. Make them visually appealing. Make them different, intriguing, inviting. Not sure what to post? We have you covered. Download our “20 Types of Facebook Posts“. You can use these strategies for any platform.
Find and Follow (the RIGHT) People Everyday
Aim to find and follow at least 25, people each day on Twitter and Instagram to follow. This should take you no longer than 10-15 minutes a day. Use hashtags, geolocation, keywords, and other accounts that your target audience would be following, to find people. After following these people, scan your streams and spend about 15 minutes a day commenting, liking or retweeting their content. Let the relationships begin.
On Facebook and LinkedIn it's a little more work since you can't necessarily just follow individuals from a Facebook business page and if you just started randomly sending connection requests on LinkedIn, you'll probably get “dinged” pretty quickly. You have to find other business pages and groups and get involved. Become a welcomed and valuable member of these “communities” and they will want to come and check you out. Comment, answer questions, do NOT try and sell or be spammy with “come and check out my page” comments. That will turn everyone off, except other spammers who will want to recruit you!
Email and Lead Generation
I don't want to scare you or overwhelm you, so just know that after you have done the first three steps, you need to start thinking about building that email list and nurturing the subscribers to convert them from LIKES into LEADS. If you have not set up an e-mail service provider (different from your internet service provider), check out services like Mailchimp or Drip. This is important to do as early in your business as possible. I cannot tell you the number of people who say “I wish I would have started building my e-mail list earlier. When someone subscribes to your list, think about how you will nurture the relationship with them. Will you send a monthly newsletter? A weekly tip or word of encouragement or just hold on to them until you want to sell something (not the best idea).
Once you have an e-mail service provider, you can use tools like Leadpages to create easy templated landing pages that will collect e-mail address in exchange for a piece of content you have created. Sometimes these are called “lead magnets” “value offers” or “freebies” but the concept is the same. I create a valuable piece of content and you exchange your contact information for the item. You can then add the link to the value offer in your social posts and blog posts to begin building that list.
Stick with It
Like anything, social media marketing takes time and consistent care to grow your audience and content inventory. Make time each day and each week to keep these activities up and you will see lasting and beautiful blooms in no time!
What has been the hardest piece for you getting started, or even if you have been using social media in your marketing mix for quite a while and now are wanting to put more focus on making your plan more strategic and helping you build your business, what is the hardest part? I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions.
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