I have a fun idea.
If I were to (safely) drop you out of a helicopter and into an uninhabited territory, and you were left alone to find your way home using the sun and stars as your guide, would you go?
Unless you have a map or the survival skills of Bear Grylls, I’m guessing your answer is probably a big fat N-O. Which is definitely smart; traveling without a guide into a foreign territory isn’t wise or safe unless you’re experienced.
So I like to think that this same situation occurs—on a much less extreme level—anytime you’re promoting on social media without a plan.
You can’t just post content, hope it reaches your target audience, and wait around while you come out on top with lots of adoring followers.
That’s just crazy talk.
In order to navigate the world of social media, you’ve got to have a solid plan in place. After today, you’ll see why your plan needs the following nine must-have items in order to be a success.
#1: What do you hope to achieve with social media?
Having a plan is only half the battle. You also need to have direction.
Are you trying to grow your audience from zero to 10,000, or from 10,000 to 100,000? Or are you trying to convert your existing audience into buyers?
Now, I can almost predict your next question.
“But, Susan, can’t I have both goals?”
In this case, no. Sorry!
While you should achieve both goals at some point in your business, it’s best to focus your attention on only one at a time. Otherwise, you’ll be too distracted or even overwhelmed by having to double the work.
So if you’re just starting out, build a following first before trying to convert that fan base to customers.
When thinking about your goal, ask yourself: What do I hope to achieve with social media?
Use this answer as your top priority or objective.
#2: Situation Analysis
Next, take a look at your current social media presence and evaluate where you stand.
Are your profiles up-to-date? Have you included visually appealing images that are current and well thought out?
If you answered no, you’ll need to address this way before you start promoting.
On top of reviewing your presence online, check out how many followers you have and assess their quality.
Are you seeing real names or spammy users who go by names like @GetMoreFollowersToday?
The reason this matters is because you want to build a true following of real people you can connect with. We’re not trying to increase your followers just to show how popular your page appears.
Remove spammy followers from all of your social media lists to get a true gauge of how many followers you really have. I know it can be hard deleting these, since your overall stats will decrease, but it will be worth it. You don’t want spam bots attacking your comment sections or attracting more spam to your page.
Now that you have your objectives in place and you’ve established a more accurate foundation of followers, it’s time to create realistic goals.
A realistic goal is like saying you want to go from 100 followers to 1,000 in 90 days. This goal is specific, measurable, and most importantly, attainable.
Let’s break it down:
If you already have 100 followers to start, you can probably get yourself up to at least 300 more in the first month with some actual effort.
This means you’ll need to gain at least 75 followers per week, or about 11 each day. That’s completely doable. By the time the next month rolls around, this will get slightly easier as your following builds and spreads your message.
The key here is to set realistic goals for your social media plan and don’t make them too easy.
Having goals without KPIs (key performance indicators) in place is just plain silly.
You need to gauge your performance or you’ll be at your 90-day mark wondering why you’re so far from reaching your goal.
To do this, decide what you’ll be measuring first. Are you going to record the number of followers you gain each week? Will you be tracking the number of sales from each post you launch?
As you can see, these measurements will depend entirely on your main objective.
Don’t forget to start tracking from day one so you’ll know which improvements need to be made along the way.
#5: Which platforms will you use?
You may think your plan needs a presence on all social media fronts, but here’s a word to the wise: If you try to manage too many, you’ll spread yourself too thin and won’t be able to get a polished message across any of them.
Specify the exact platforms you’ll be using to achieve your goals by narrowing your focus.
Think about where your ideal customer would hang out online and only focus on those channels specifically. If it’s a male customer in his late twenties or early thirties, you won’t find him on Pinterest, that’s for sure.
The point is, use the exact channels your customer uses. Don’t spend your time promoting your brand on a platform that your ideal customer wants nothing to do with.
To give you an example, here’s the breakdown of two popular social media channels using research from Pew Research Center:
- Facebook’s prime users are females between the ages of 18–29, yet you’ll still find just as many 30–49 year old users on there too
- As for Instagram, the 18–29 crowd leads the way and doubles the amount of 30–49 year old users
This shows that if your target audience is between the ages of 30–49, they’re more likely to be on Facebook and only somewhat active on Instagram.
That’s valuable insight!
Now you can spend most of your time on Facebook, while still devoting a portion of it to promoting on Instagram.
Use the data in these charts, along with your own intuition, to determine where your ideal customer hangs out. Only focus your attention on those channels right now. Once you get comfortable and consistent, then you can branch out.
#6: A Posting Schedule
After you narrow down your platforms, it’s time to create a consistent posting schedule, with extra emphasis on consistency.
As the name suggests, this is how often you’ll post on each channel. Ideally, you’ll get to a place of posting multiple times per day using well-thought out posts.
But if you’re just starting out, this can be way too much to take on.
In the beginning, I want you to post on your social media platforms at least once per week.
As you get the hang of things, you can bump this up to two times and eventually three times per week. And when you really get the ball rolling, you can start to post daily and then multiple times per day.
You won’t just see a few new followers, I’m talking exponential growth. That’s the beauty of social media—once things start cooking, it doesn’t take long to heat up!
Be sure to take advantage of scheduling apps such as Buffer, Hootsuite, or Later (specific for Instagram and formerly known as Latergramme) that allow you to create posts ahead of time. You can knock out your posts in a block of time instead of having to do them in interrupted bursts each day.
I also recommend choosing a few themes, or even narrowing down the types of posts you’ll launch each week.
So, for example, you could say that every Monday you’ll post something motivational, but Fridays you’ll stick to funny videos. Monday uses a theme (motivation) while Friday is an example of the type of post (video in this case).
You can choose to line up your posts by themes, by type, or with a combination of both. Find what works for you and your audience and go from there.
If you’re just launching one post per week, you’d have to come up with four themes or types of posts each month. That’s not so bad right?
And if you post daily, you’ll just lay this out for each day instead of each week.
By creating this system, you’ll find it so much easier to figure out what to post each time. All you have to do is look to the day’s theme or type and go from there.
#8: Paid Advertising
Next, you need to determine how much you’ll set aside in your budget for paid advertising.
Now, to be clear, we won’t rely too heavily on paid ads, but it can be a great way to boost your page by giving it more of a presence.
Plus, social media advertising can be very affordable at times (costing under a nickel for a click), so it’s a great investment to consider making.
#9: Evaluation Metrics
Lastly, you need to create metrics that you’ll use to evaluate your performance. These are your guidelines to let you know if you’ve hit the mark.
I suggest having daily, weekly, and monthly metrics so you’ll know if you’re on track throughout the month instead of hastily realizing it as the end of the month approaches.
Just like we broke down the 90-day plan of going from 100 to 1,000 followers earlier, I want you to create benchmarks, or evaluation metrics, that will help you gauge how you’re progressing.
The idea here is to make small, continual progress each day. If you’re tracking that, you’ll know exactly where you stand and you’ll be motivated to keep moving forward.
Thanks to the help of this guide, you’ll finally have a solid social media promotion plan that will get results.
Now that you know exactly which steps to take, remain consistent to make continual progress.
Don’t forget to be authentic whenever you post anything. That means no re-posting of viral content that doesn’t align with your brand just for the sake of posting. Only post to get your brand’s message across to the digital world.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have a loyal following in no time.