A 7-Point Checklist for Effective Social Media Marketing

Bruce Johnston, LinkedIn Evangelist & Sales Coach

Here are the key things you have to do, and the key decisions you need to make to have a good, workable social media marketing plan.

First, decide on your goals. You may wish to use social media to consolidate, improve, or even change your image or brand. You may wish to generate sales revenue. You may wish to use it to conduct customer or product research using surveys and interaction with your followers or connections.

In structuring your goals, make them as simple and measurable as possible. Unless you have an atrocious brand image, I recommend going for more sales leads (I have yet to talk to someone who has said, "No, thanks. We have quite enough sales leads."). A well-executed sales lead campaign will have the side effect of positive improvement in your brand image.

Second, choose your media channel or channels. Many companies suffer from over reach in their social media campaigns--they try to do too much, underestimate the commitment required, and wind up with meagre content to share over their social media, occasional posts, and low-interest levels from their target market. They wonder what happened to their grand plans and ultimately give up. The simple fact is that one or two channels may give you 90% of the effectiveness that seven channels would.

I mention two channels because one channel is almost always your corporate blog. We will come back to blogging in future columns, but blog is usually the centre of your social media strategy.

For B2B I am partial to LinkedIn as the preferred social media. Aside from offering multiple ways to get your message out, familiarity with LinkedIn provides other benefits. For marketing, LinkedIn is a good place to gather competitive intelligence. And for sales, LinkedIn is a great place for searching for target companies and for getting in-depth information on the people at those companies.

Third, allocate resources. You’ve figured out what you have to do; now you need to figure out who’s going to do it. Who’s in charge overall? Who’s writing the content? Who’s participating in forums like the LinkedIn groups mentioned above? How often are you doing all these things? Who's is following up on inquiries?

Fourth, make sure your content is great. It needs to have value for your target audience and it can’t be a sales pitch. This is where most people get stuck. They think that if they write about “things you need to look for in a (their product area) vendor” it won’t be seen as a rather transparent sales pitch. Wrong. It will. If you do this sort of thing, the market will give you the ultimate sign of social media rejection: They will ignore you. I’ll make content the subject of a separate column, because it’s the one of the key areas where social media campaigns fail.

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