This class offers an exclusive preview of what being a member of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com is like: you get access to:
Each lesson in this class takes only 10 minutes per day: that includes reading the lesson, watching the brief videos, and doing the assignment. You’re learning in “chunks” and applying the strategies right away.
I’ll be teaching you a variety of techniques that make up a virtual Swiss Army Knife of proven social media tactics; you may not need them all, and you may use some far more than others. However, it’s essential to take EVERY lesson, as they work best when done together as a whole.
Ready to learn? I’m here to help you!
Maria Peagler Founder, SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com
Start your social media strategy journey by downloading this social media strategy template. It serves as a helpful guide through this class, and you’ll also get a spreadsheet (in Lesson 1) to use to complete your answers to the questions. To download the templates, Right-Click (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac) and choose Save As:
Forget the pundits who tell you Twitter is better than Facebook, or YouTube is the place to be. Where you need to be is where your customers are.
Each question on this infographic apply to any platform you’re using: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, or wikis. These same elements set the course for your approach, and without them, you’re spinning your wheels. Social networking doesn’t have to be a time drain: focus on these six vital parts, you’ll chart your course and never stray.
Wow! Now you have no excuses NOT to be using social networking for success in your business.
Download this spreadsheet to build your social media strategy
Before you invest your valuable time & resources in social media, you need to identify exactly where you should be focusing. With this lesson, you’ll begin developing your solution to:
being overwhelmed and having no idea where to start
feeling like there are too many social networks
social media taking too much time
not seeing a return on your investment (ROI)
Your strategy will look wildly different from others taking this same class, because their situation is unique from yours. No two strategies will be exactly alike.
Today we’ll tackle the first element: who is your customer?
You would be surprised at the number of entrepreneurs don’t know the answer to this question. Or, if they do, they are often too vague. Be obsessively specific here. While we all would love to think everyone will want our products, it just isn’t so. Identify your potential buyers down to their:
what publications they read
what websites they visit
what their budget is
are they local or nationwide
Here you can see the answers to “Who is Your Customer?” for Socialmediaonlineclasses.com:
Even when you think you’ve identified buyers as much as possible, go further.
Traditional demographics often no longer apply in today’s diverse cultures. A 40-year-old woman may have a toddler at home, no children at home, be caring for teens and aging parents, or have children in college. Those life stages are quite different, and so will be her interests and purchasing decisions. So while age and sex are a start, go further and identify the life phase your target audience is in. What defines them?
Here are three different Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members, along with their job titles. It helps if you can visualize your clients: these are real people who rely on me for their training. Can you do the same? Collect photos of your clients (or potential clients) and make them visible to you while you’re going through this class:
Go Do It
To identify your customer, do this:
Download the Social Media Strategy Template if you haven’t already. You’ll use it to record your findings from this lesson.
Answer the questions for “Who is Your Audience?” in the spreadsheet.
Further define your customers by identifying their life stage when they need your product.
Find data on buyers in your unique industry by doing a Google search of your field with keywords like “average spend”, “customer survey”, etc. For example, by doing a Google search of “quilters average spend”, the first result is a comprehensive survey done in 2010 of the size of the market, market niches that spend the most, and where they buy.
Congratulations! You’ve identified your customer, which will be crucial in targeting your social media and online marketing efforts. Everything you’ll be doing will go back to this question, “Who is your customer?”
In Lesson One we covered the #1 element of your social media strategy: who is your customer? Today, I’ll talk about the mission-critical #2 element: What are your goals?
In a recent consultation I did with a real estate agent who dominates her state in sales, I asked her what her social media goals were. This is a woman who has a sophisticated grasp of online marketing, but she confessed, “I don’t know what social media can do for me.”
My next question to her? “What are your business goals? Let’s tie those to social media and help you achieve them using the social networks that will support your goals.”
That’s what I suggest for you too.
Social media can find new customers, generate more sales, pump up your marketing, find new hire candidates, and even help with customer service. It can’t revamp your financial strategy or train your employees. So social media goals are best tied to outreach of some kind: new clients, existing clients, job candidates, and others you need to reach.
While most small business owners want the overall goal of more customers and more profits, exactly how do you intend to do that?
Do you want existing customers to increase the amount they spend with you? Do you want to bring in new customers? Are you introducing a new product? Are you changing your business focus? Do you need to rebrand?
As you can see, identifying your goals is a mission-critical step in this process. Not only does it laser-focus your efforts, it also saves you valuable time as a business owner you can’t afford to waste. Social media takes time — especially in the early stage when you are developing a presence. Too many businesses flounder in social media by jumping in blindly, having no plan, they don’t measure their results, and then they’re disappointed when they don’t see their sales increase.
Don’t make that mistake. Decide first what your goals are in using social media, and be specific.
Go Do It
To identify your social media goals, do this:
Return to your Word or Google document and record the results from the steps below.
First, identify your business goals and which of those social media can support.
Now include social media in the plan to achieve those goals. For example, if your goal in Step 1 was to generate a 10% increase in revenue, include social media in that strategy: use my best social network to increase revenue by 10% in one year.
Redefine the goal by making it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Based. Here’s what that SMART goal would look like:
Specific: Increase revenue by 10%
Measurable: Use accounting program to measure revenue per month, quarter, year.
Actionable: Identify the social network best able to reach my target audience and post there 2x per week.
Relevant: Increased revenues are essential to business growth and profitability, therefore essential to a healthy balance sheet.
Time-Based: Increase revenue by an average of 1% per month, starting today.
Repeat this process for each business goal you identified in Step 1.
Congratulations! You’ve identified your social media goals. Realize that as you continue through the class, you’ll want to return to these goals and refine them as you learn more about what social media can do for you and where you need to be focusing your efforts.
Part Four of your social media strategy? When will you reach out to your audience?
The secret to outstanding social media campaigns is consistency. In both how often you communicate with your audience and at what times.
They key to being consistent is to plan for your social media posts and make them easy to do.
I recommend creating an editorial calendar to identify what topics you'll be posting about throughout the year. That makes it easier on you when you're in the middle of your busy season and you don't have time to think, "What do I post about today?"
This doesn't have to be complicated; in fact, I'm giving you the EZ Button to simplify the process. You can download the same content spreadsheet I use here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com to plan my content throughout the year.
Think in terms of your business calendar, and identify the seasonal nature of your product or service. If you're an accountant, then April and October will be your busy periods, and you need get in touch with customers before those months. If you are a retailer, your merchandise changes with the seasons, and you want to let your customers know about your changing inventory.
(I call the calendar an Content Marketing Multi-Tool because it also offers suggestions on what types of content to write, where to get free photos, and much more. It's much more robust than a regular calendar.)
Each week of the month is already on the calendar for you: just fill in what your content will be that week, the content type and the resources you'll need.
The right side of the spreadsheet offers suggestions for what types of content to create (so you & your audience don't get bored), where to find free images, and much more.
Remember, your calendar is a guideline: don't feel like you have to stick to it religiously. Events often disrupt your best plans, so be flexible about what you write about on social media.
Go Do It
Get organized and identify when you'll be reaching out to your audience by doing this:
Download the editorial calendar and identify the topics you'll be talking about over the next year.
Set a goal of posting to your social networks at least twice per week. Studies show if you post multiple times per day it's too much, but only once a week and people forget you. Twice a week is a good middle ground.
Post in the evenings or schedule your posts for evenings and weekends. That's when people have more leisure time and can really read and respond to your posts.
Measure your results and tweak your schedules and times based on your results.
Congratulations! You've identified where your target audience is in social media and where you need to focus your efforts. You've saved yourself literally hundreds of hours of time, and ensured you're going to start on the right track in your social media campaigns.
Lesson 3 is THE most crucial part your social media strategy, because it alone determines whether your efforts will pay off. I’ll be saving you literally dozens of hours of research time with the tactics I’m sharing with you today. I used to spend weeks finding this information for my clients, and I’ve developed a strategy that does the same thing in about 5 minutes. And I’m sharing it with you today.
I hear this from my clients often: “I’ve overwhelmed with it all and don’t know where to start!”
That stems from the feeling that you need to be everywhere.
You don’t. The only place you need to be are where your customers are.
Watch the video below to see the mini-consulting session I offered in the Forum that left this member saying “Wow! Thanks Maria! I’m going to do this right away!”
Note: You can also do this search in other major search engines, including Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo (a search engine that doesn’t track your search history).
How can you identify quickly which social networks holds the best potential for your business? Do you need to join each network, create a profile, then search for your potential audience?
You could, but it would take forever!
Instead, you’re going to identify your best clients and what social networks they use, without ever having to join a single social network.
One of the first tactics I use when developing a social media strategy for my clients is to ask for a list of their top 20 clients. I then look to see what social networks those clients use. Because if you’re audience isn’t on Twitter, why use it?
My clients are often surprised at the result. I recently did an in-depth consultation for a golf operations management consultancy, and they were convinced they needed to be on Facebook. But few of their clients were there, so it didn’t make sense for them. Instead, I found the majority of their audience was on Twitter and LinkedIn, and I suggested they focus their primary efforts there.
Here’s a spreadsheet I developed listing their largest clients and where they had accounts on major social media networks:
I’m about to share with you how you can do the same research in about 5 minutes. Here’s how:
That search phrase is extremely powerful, as it allows you to see which of your clients, colleagues, vendors, and what parts of your industry are using that social network. Here’s a very specific example of a search that I did for a colleague who owns a spray foam insulation business:
site:facebook.com “spray foam”
The results showed that yes, a few of his target clients were using Facebook, but their fan count was so low they were not active in Facebook. You can see a Facebook business page’s fan count directly in any major search engine (except Google), as shown below:
We did another search for roofing companies active on Pinterest. I didn’t expect a lot of results here, as Pinterest is mostly women, and men tend to take care of a home’s exterior, but here’s what we found:
I did this search and then clicked on Images, since Pinterest is a social network made up of only photos and videos. I was shocked by the huge number of roofing companies on Pinterest:
We continued doing these searches until we determined that LinkedIn was one of the best places for his marketing efforts, as there were over 5,000 results for spray foam companies who would be his potential clients.
Go Do It
Now it’s your turn:
Go to Google and perform the search:site:facebook.com “my industry name”— substituting the social network you want to search for and the search term. You can search for an entire industry, a specific client, vendor, or colleague. This is a super-quick way to figure out what social network your target audience is using.
Enter your top 20 clients. Search for them using the tactic in step #1 or by logging into the social network and searching for them there. Enter the results in the spreadsheet.
Make a list of the top 25 – 50 people who can help you achieve those business goals you identified in Lesson 2. This is your Strategic Business Network. Do searches for them and see what social networks they’re most active on.
Evaluate where your target audience is in the greatest numbers and focus your efforts on that social network first. I recommend you tackle one social network at a time, and once you’ve mastered building your presence and marketing there, only then add another social network.
Whew! This was a BIG lesson, and you should be proud of completing it! You’ve identified which social networks you need to concentrate your efforts on. This focus will help you laser-target your tactics and get better results.
Why should people choose your company? What’s in it for them?
Identifying the WHY in your social media strategy is often the toughest step, because it requires you to differentiate your brand from all the rest. This is the challenging part of marketing that even the most seasoned professionals find difficult, but I’ll be giving you a roadmap that simplifies the process.
I recently got a new follower on Twitter, and when I looked at their profile, I was impressed. Here it is:
This small brand differentiates themselves on Twitter by saying “let’s have fun telling your story.”
All it took was a brief glance at their profile bio and I could tell these guys were different. They were having fun doing social media.
Here’s our exchange:
Notice that differentiation wasn’t expensive or time-consuming here. Just a word or two communicated everything.
THIS is your goal: to differentiate your brand by clearly telling your own story in your social media marketing.
What differentiates you is called your unique value proposition (UVP), and many “experts” tell you it’s something you develop by focusing on benefits vs. features.
The best way to develop your UVP is to talk to your customers. They alone define your UVP, because they are the only ones who can tell you about your product from a customer’s viewpoint. Go back through your client emails, testimonials, and remember those face-to-face encounters, and identify the following items from your clients:
What do they love about your business?
Why did they choose you over your competition?
What do you hear compliments on again and again?
What themes are highlighted in client testimonials?
Once you’ve collected the responses, develop a cohesive message about what you offer that is unique from your competition. Be specific and clear: spell out exactly what makes your business unique and why customers should do business with you. Don’t over-hype your message: clarity beats persuasive messaging every time. Be customer-focused, be clear, and be specific.
My UVP on my Home page is this:
Learn Your Way. On Your Time.
Choose Socialmediaonlineclasses.com when:
You need more fans, followers, leads & sales
You need the most up-to-date classes
You need individual help you can trust (BBB-Accredited)
You need results faster
It took me years to develop such a customer-focused UVP, and I did it by following the exact steps I described: I talked to my members to see why they chose SMOC: they were concerned about out-of-date content, being scammed, and not having enough time to take all the classes.
What if you don’t have clients yet? Or what if you go through that customer interview process and you still don’t have a focused message?
Download your Unique Value Proposition Blueprint: a 12-page step-by-step guide that crafts a UVP that tells people immediately what is unique about your brand and relieves their anxiety.
It’s a $297 value, free for potential members taking this free Social Media Strategy class
Social media changed significantly, and it’s no longer enough to simply post to a social network (especially Facebook) and hope for results. Here’s an example of how markedly things have changed:
In 2011 and 2012, articles were rampant about how brands were turning to their Facebook pages for marketing far more than they were using their own websites. In fact, some brands considered using their Facebook page AS their website.
In 2016 that would be considered foolish. Why?
Because your website is the only online marketing channel you OWN.
You set the rules.
You can do things your way.
And you don’t need to worry about keeping up with constant changes.
In 2016, you need to use social media in a unified way by combining it with other outreach tools for exponential marketing power. Email, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), your website and blog all work together with social media marketing to reach your customers, where they are.
The Unified Digital Marketing Strategy infographic lays out how to combine digital marketing techniques to optimize your campaigns. Click on the infographic to download your copy:
Social networks are not a world unto themselves (even if they ACT that way!). For best results, use social media to do the following:
1. Drive traffic to your website
Use social media to drive fans & followers to your website. That’s where they can learn more about your company, you can motivate them to claim special offers, and capture their email address so you can contact them directly.
(What if you don’t have a website? Some brands can do without them: authors can use their Amazon page instead; artist & crafters can use their Etsy store; and antiques dealers can use their eBay store.)
2. Introduce your audience to your brand using quality content
Writing and/or creating rock-solid content that elevates your brand above the rest is the core of any marketing strategy. You’ll use your content on your website, in social media, and every other marketing channel you rely on.
3. Rank highly in search engine results
This is the art of getting people to your website from search engines for free (no paid advertising). Social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are tightly connected: the more engagement you receive on social media, the higher your business ranks in search. Many small brands and non-profits rank highly in search results (including Socialmediaonlineclasses), and my SEO 101 class teaches you exactly how you can too (no-geek speak required!).
4. Use social media as a lead generator for email marketing
One of the best ways to use social media is as a lead generation tool. People learn about you on social networks and become a fan. If you also capture their email address, you can then reach them directly in their Inbox, without worrying about what the latest changes are in social media.
I realize this list can seem overwhelming. Realize that no one starts out knowing how to do all of these.
Begin from where you are now, and incorporate these tactics over time. It took me years to develop a strategy that works for my unique business, and I now have clients on six continents (I don’t think I’ll be adding Antarctica any time soon, but who knows?).
The good news? You can learn how to do all of these marketing tactics and more here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. Yes, not just social media marketing, but content generation & marketing, SEO, and email marketing.
The best way to figure out what works in social media for your business?
Get in there and DO IT.
Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Start small, be consistent, measure your results, and adapt your plan based on what you find.
You will make mistakes.
So did CNN, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks when they began.
You’re now ready to move from your social media strategy to execution! Here’s how:
Join the social network you identified as your primary target in Lesson 3 and build an account there. If you need help getting started, check out the classes I offer to give you a jumpstart.
Fill out your social media profile completely, and begin reaching out to your connections who are already on the social network. Go back to that strategic network you identified in Lesson 3 and connect with them.
Spend a few days reading over the posts from top influencers in your industry, your colleagues, and your clients. Watch what kind of content they post: are they text updates, links to articles, videos, podcasts, or infographics? What posts get the most responses? What resonates with you?
Identify which of the tactics from Get Trained you want to focus on next. Create a SMART goal for it.
Consider joining Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. You’ve received a lot of value from this class: six lessons, multiple downloads, strategies you couldn’t learn anywhere else. I’d be honored to have you join us as a member!
Congratulations! You’re now an official graduate of the Social Media Strategy class.
Guess what? 80% of the people who sign up for this class never reach this lesson. Incredible isn’t it?
I’m impressed you have, and it shows your determination to be a success. You’re exactly the type of member I want here at SMOC. As my gift to you, I’m extending the new member discount: use promo code JOIN25 for 25% off an Annual Membership. But hurry – this offer expires in 24 hours.