It’s January, and you should be diving into your marketing plan for 2012. The plan may be very specific, with tasks, assignments and deadlines, or it might be a vague outline scrawled on a scrap of paper.
Whatever your method, social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy this year.
This is much easier said than done in most workplaces. None of my clients have a dedicated social media marketing staff member, or even an employee focused on marketing in general. Organizations and businesses are stretched thin, and often the first item on the chopping block is the marketing budget.
Too bad. In 2012, social media tools are going to be even more influential in people’s lives than ever before.
It is vital to pay attention to the social media trends already taking over in 2012. Social media networks may be free, but the time and expertise it takes to effectively use them is not. (Stay tuned for my next blog post: Why you should not hire an unpaid intern or volunteer to be in charge of your social media strategy.)
In this blog, I outline four common scenarios encountered by businesses and nonprofit organizations. I then make a case for biting the bullet and hiring outside help to manage social media.
1) You are too overwhelmed with the day-to-day.
Many of my clients will not be reading this post, because they are drowning under a sea of paperwork, unreturned phone calls and urgent emails.
A consultant knows that you are swamped and will be sensitive to your time constraints. We don’t need a lot of direction – but we do need some time to meet with you, to ask questions, to determine your goals and to review the marketing plan. We won’t try to make more work for you – we want to help you work better, more efficiently and more effectively.
Consultants are big on the “give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime” philosophy – we want to help you improve in the long term as well as the short term.
2) You want to learn how to use social media tools but don’t know where to start.
I have great news! You don’t have to create a profile on all 18,956 social media sites! (I made up that number – the real number is probably much higher!) A good social media strategy is simple: Quality over quantity.
A consultant will help you find your target market and the social networks where this market is active. We can help you refine a specific plan of attack, rather than throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks (although in some cases that really works).
Facebook may be essential to get the results you need, but LinkedIn may not be vital right now. You may have fabulous videos of your product or cause, therefore YouTube would be very beneficial. The key is to cull, refine and perfect your voice and your brand on a few channels, rather than spreading yourself too thin on many channels.
3) You are dabbling in social media, but not getting the results that you want.
A consultant will be able to do a complete audit of your online presence along with traditional marketing avenues to determine what’s working and what can be revamped or scrapped altogether.
Wouldn’t you rather allocate some dollars to find out what’s working, rather than throw money down the drain year after year on methods that are not delivering a return on investment?
An outside consultant will also be able to come in with a breadth of experience to help you identity realistic goals for your social media campaign. This is done by examining the environment and seeing what other comparable businesses and organizations are accomplishing. For example, if you own a small pizza shop with one location, it is most likely not feasible to expect 10,000 Facebook followers. 500-1,000 may be a more manageable goal to start with. A Landscape Scan is helpful in this instance to keep expectations manageable and not set yourself up for disappointment and failure.
4) You need new content ideas and a fresh perspective.
Your blog posts are stale, your Facebook posts are not getting any reaction and engagement, and no one is following you on Twitter. Getting some outside help will recharge your creative batteries, especially for organizations and businesses so focused on the day-to-day that there is no time for creative thinking and brainstorming. It’s amazing what half an hour and a flip chart of white paper and colorful markers can inspire!
Whatever your budget, cause, product, brand or client-base, you need to start thinking about using social media to help your accomplish your goals in 2012. Your community is already there, waiting for you.
How are you managing your social media marketing plan for 2012? Are you planning on hiring a consultant or a staff member? Let us know!
Please post your comments in the section below or email firstname.lastname@example.org