What we will cover
The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on the previous 12 months and plan for the next. In a business sense, this should definitely include revisiting your marketing plan (especially the social media element of it).
Why Social Media important for Marketing?
While your company’s overall goals may not have changed much, you can be sure that your audience’s have. 2020 has transformed many people’s lives. Many will have changed their behaviours, lifestyles and priorities.
The tools people use to communicate, including social media platforms will also have changed and developed. Some services have sprung into the mainstream from nowhere (e.g. Zoom) while others have added powerful new features (e.g, TikTok Duet, LinkedIn Newsletters, etc.)
Setting the scene
The first part of planning your 2021 Marketing Plan should include a situation analysis. If writing a formal marketing plan, this exercise would typically cover the ‘Business Summary’, ‘SWOT Analysis’ and ‘Competitor Analysis’ sections.
Start with summarising your business. What’s your brand name? Where are you based? Who’s in your marketing team? What’s your mission?
Yes, we know you probably did this last year but if any of these details have changed over the past 12 months (e.g. you now operate from home!), this exercise can prompt you to adjust the way you have been marketing your business.
A SWOT Analysis highlights your marketing team’s strengths and weaknesses and considers external opportunities for growth and possible threats to be aware of.
Your Competitor Analysis should reveal the social media strategies your rivals are using while highlighting potential gaps. Look for evidence of both paid social media marketing and ‘organic’ network building. For example, if your competitors are paying for social media ads, you can decide to either outbid them or focus on building a more personal connection to your audience.
The actual platforms and tactics you will use to market your business on social media will come later in your plan.
Defining (or refining) your audience
When was the last time you carried out any market research? If the answer is never, now is the time to gather the information you need to build your customer personas.
As detailed in previous Vu articles, personas increase the effectiveness of marketing by focusing your messages on your audience’s main motivators and pain points.
Even if you do have a portfolio of personas, you should revisit them drawing on new data. From the BLM movement to the effects of the pandemic, the 2020 experience has changed many people’s priorities and lifestyles. By taking this into account in your 2021 Marketing Plan, you could turn this adjustment to your advantage.
From a social media perspective, it is vital that you find out which social media platforms your core audience use. There is no point in posting daily pictures of your company’s activity on Instagram if your audience base are all connecting with each other via TikTok or Snapchat.
Choosing your destination
Having set the scene and looked at what your audience wants, it’s time to set out what you want as a business.
Set some short-term goals (to be achieved by the end of 2021) alongside some more long-term goals. While there will need to be a connection with your overall business plan, try to keep the focus on marketing goals (i.e. winning and retaining customers).
We recommend that your goals follow the classic SMART format. That is, they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-limited.
Increasing the average number of shares per Facebook post by 150% by June 2021 is an example of a SMART short-term social media marketing goal.
You’re now ready to go into the nuts and bolts of your 2021 Marketing Plan.
Social media and your marketing mix
Many businesses start their marketing plan at this stage. They know that social media is cost-effective so they tweak their marketing mix accordingly. However, they will tend to choose the social media platforms they have always used and post the content they feel comfortable with.
With no clear goals in place, social media posting becomes nothing more than a routine.
Having done the groundwork, you will be in a much better position to choose which marketing channels (traditional and social) to use. Through a combination of general and platform-specific analytics services, you will also be able to monitor your campaign results against your marketing goals.
At this stage, we recommend you make a decision. Do you manage your social media marketing as part of your overall marketing plan or do you create a fork in the road and set up a separate social media marketing plan.
In terms of resource, you could either appoint or hire an in-house social media manager or outsource your social media management to an agency like Vu Online.
Whatever your decision, you will also need some kind of central marketing or social media management platform. This will help you to coordinate work and schedule social media posts.
This could be anything from a simple marketing calendar on a shared Google Sheet to a dedicated cloud-based service such a Hootsuite or Zoho Social.
Making the numbers add up
The final step is to finalise your 2021 marketing budget and adjust your marketing plan to make the numbers work.
How much money you allocate to marketing will depend on your business’s individual circumstances but avoid cutting down too much on marketing as a way to manage costs. It is through marketing that your business attracts new leads so strangling that source is a false economy.
Considering the billions of social platform users and the relatively low cost of maintaining an active presence, using social media for marketing should be top of the priority list when drawing up your 2021 Marketing Plan.
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