This is the first in a series on social media – the business strategy, by travel industry consultant Sophie Bujold.
For the past several years, social media has been on a fast track to popularity with small business marketers. In fact, in a recent Ad-ology survey of more than 1,000 small to mid-size U.S. businesses, a whopping 90% of respondents planned to use social media in their 2012 marketing.
Many accounts, not so much planning
But while the number of Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn profiles and other channels is climbing rapidly, the number of people putting thought into the overall purpose and direction of their efforts in these channels is growing much more slowly.
Instead, many small to mid-size business owners or managers are jumping in without considering where they might land.
This is where many social media efforts turn into time-sucking random acts of marketing and end up overwhelming their creator.
The solution? Develop a plan.
Here are 3 good reasons
Why is having a social media marketing plan important? Why does a pilot need a flight plan? Why does a football team need a playbook? It makes them better!
Your social media marketing plan can help you be better too. Here’s how:
1. It narrows your focus and identifies goals
Knowing what you want to get out of your social media marketing efforts will set the tone for every other decision you make while assembling your plan.
It will also give you goals to work towards and a purpose for posting on those days when you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.
“Why do I want to use social media to promote my agency?” should be your first and guiding question. This is one of the rare times where you get to consider what’s in it for you, so make it count!
2. It saves time and effort
We are all on a quest to “work smarter, not harder.” Your social media marketing plan should do this for you.
More specifically, it should help you:
• Identify which channels to focus your efforts in, based on your goals and the audience you want to reach.
• Pinpoint opportunities to use social media to amplify other marketing efforts.
• Find ways to use other marketing campaigns to generate content for your social channels.
• Determine channel-appropriate content strategies and tools to help you post consistently without wasting time.
• Find outside content sources that you can use to further your efforts.
• Decide if you need help with your efforts and determine who can help you.
3. It helps you measure success
I get many questions from travel agency owners and managers wondering how to calculate the ROI on social media. With a clear plan, this becomes much, much easier.
You see, by having clear goals for your efforts, you gain a clearer picture of what success looks like for you. Is it an increase in website visitors? A rise in online inquiries? A jump in the number of people talking about you?
Once you define success, you can identify the numbers that matter in Facebook Insights, Google Analytics and other tools. From there, start thinking of tactics to affect those numbers and measure the results of your efforts.
No need to be über-scientific
Your social media marketing plan doesn’t need to be a 50-page document. All it takes is a bit of foresight and a direction laid out on paper, so that everyone on your team – even if it’s just you – can follow the same action plan.
Whether your team responds best to pictures, bullet points, short paragraphs or smoke signals, use whatever it takes to lay out a clear map that is understood by everyone who will have a part in its execution.
Once you start steering with purpose, the results will follow.
Sophie Bujold is a social media coach who specializes in helping travel professionals achieve online success. She speaks at many events and works individually with travel agencies across North America. For more insights from Sophie, visit her website and sign up for free weekly email tips.