What’s that saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” Well, just like any marketing strategy, social media needs planning. You cannot just jump on Twitter or Facebook and expect to make sales or generate a lead database without some planning. The fact is, most small businesses fail at Facebook and Twitter because they fail to plan strategies that convert followers and fans to leads and customers. However, when implemented properly, a customized Facebook fan page and a Twitter account can directly increase your ability to collect and message leads and boost sales. Take Papa John’s Facebook Page: it is responsible for improving sales by more than 28% for the pizza chain and their incentive initiatives like free pizza’s for friends helped them double their fan base in a single month. Conversely, check out Jet Blue’s Twitter Page: by tweeting their deal of day, they have directly improved sales and been able to prove ROI on Twitter. But neither of these companies jumped into social media without a game plan and nor should you.
Build a Social Media Game Plan
Set a Goal
The very first thing you need to determine is what your goal is. Set a clear goal. For example – set a goal like “I want to exceed 10K fans on my Facebook page.” “I want to generate a database of over 25K subscribers I can remarket later. Or “I want to directly sell my products or services to increase revenues by 10%.” Like I said, be specific in your goal, so you can measure results based on expectation.
Allocate Your Resources
Be aware that social media is not some silver bullet that will save your business. It is one element of a successful online marketing plan and realistically accounts for 8% of all online leads according to a recent Hubspot study. So, figure out how much time and money you want to spend on getting this result. Quantify it and know the metrics of existing sales, leads or subscribers generated each month on your website or Facebook Fan page. The next step is to find the mechanism that will generate that result for you. For example – recently Shakira debuted her latest music video exclusively on her Facebook fan page. The goal? To build fan base in a single place online that allowed for easy messaging of fans. To drive fans in volume and within a limited time to that page by providing debut access to content irresistible to her audience. The result? 1.7 million fans visited and fanned that page.
I am not suggesting you are a pop star in need of fans – but what I am saying is find the irresistible offer that your market is looking for. If you are a web services company to small businesses, offer a limited time discount on services or a free eBook on conversion page design and marketing or even a white paper on social media – each requiring registration. My point is, set a clear goal for yourself.
Drive Traffic to Conversion Points
OK, so you have a goal. Making that goal a success requires that you drive the traffic from your social media accounts back to places where people can take action and deliver your result. I am a huge fan of single purpose landing pages. These are pages that you direct visitors to that have only one purpose – to call them to action and create a NEED for them to immediate buy or register their information so you can generate a lead.
Measure Your Results
Know how you will measure that goal before you begin the campaign. In the instances I mentioned you can measure the results even without third party tools – simply based on the number of new Facebook Fans, the size of your database or the number of downloads. Clearly you can get more rich data on your campaign from Google Analytics, Mint, Crazy Egg, Omniture or Visistat, but it is possible to prove ROI without them.
Use The Right Tools
Google Analytics Social Media Tracking Plugin | This will display social media metric data in Google analytics. It can display your activity and mentions from a variety of social sites like Digg, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Mixx.
Bit.ly | When you use a URL shortener, it’s always a smart idea to use one that has analytics information, like Bit.ly This will track information like number of clicks, traffic sources, and even at what time clicks occur.
Xinureturns | xinureturns provides a great dashboard overview of your website’s standing in social media. Run a report and you will receive information on Technorati, Googe Pagerank, Diggs, and even backlinks to your website.
PostRank | PostRank provides detailed information on Tweets, stumbles, diggs, and FriendFeed all in one place. It’s best for blogs and websites with a lot of content.
SocialToo | SocialToo is a comprehensive tool for creating social surveys and tracking social stats. It also will send you a daily email describing follows and unfollows on Twitter.
SM2 | If you are really serious about your social analytics you will use a monitoring service like SM2. SM2 is a software solution designed specifically for PR and Marketing Agencies to monitor and measure social media. As businesses and consumers increasingly utilize and rely on social media, your agency needs the best tools and expertise to stay competitive.
TwitterAnalyzer is one of the most comprehensive Twitter analyzer tools out there. It tracks followers who are online when you are, number of readers that have been exposed to your message, your tweet habits, who is retweeting your updates, twitter follow statistics, growth rates, conversations being made about you, the size of your audience and your followers’ demographics.
As a small business, you need to hold your marketing campaigns to the same standards enterprise sized businesses do and expect full return on the investments you make into them. Do not fully dive into the waters of social media if you are not prepared with goals and strategy. Results are what matter and using social sites effectively is the key, so plan for your success and know how you will measure that success against your expectations.
Mary McKnight serves as the Director of Internet Marketing for Fuel Records, an EMI Music Group Label and an outspoken blogger on music, social media, SEO and piracy. You can read more of her work on www.sacriliciousmarketing.com.