Social Media Marketing is one of those things that fills a lot of business owners with dread. We know we should be doing it, we may even enjoy it at first, but at some point it becomes overwhelming, infuriating, frustrating, and even worrying.

Managing your social media can be a major time-suck which commands a huge amount of resources, and there’s always this nagging feeling that it’s not working as well as it should.

Sometimes, it’s not working at all.

I know a fair few entrepreneurs who have reached the point of abstaining from social media completely, and relying on other forms of marketing. If that isn’t an option, they simply abdicate from dealing with it themselves, outsourcing their social media management to a pro.

But if you’re a digital marketer it’s extremely difficult to hang up your social media management hat, and paying someone else to manage a comprehensive and effective social strategy isn’t always an option – especially for new business owners.

So how do you navigate the horrors of social media management without tearing your hair out?

Here’s an easy, stress-free, eight step plan for establishing a simple but effective social media marketing strategy:

#1 Planning

At its core, social media is nothing more than content marketing. It’s a different form of content to blogging or vlogging, but it often utilises your blogs, podcasts, videos and other content, and has forms of content completely unique to the social sphere (Internet memes, for example, are the love child of social media).

The key to any form of content marketing, whether it’s blogging, vlogging, or social media, is taking the time to plan your strategy.

There are numerous reasons for this – efficiency, time management, etc. – but really it boils down to two things: without a social media management plan you aren’t going to effectively support your business goals, launches, or vital events.

When the main benefit of social media marketing is its ability to further these elements of your business, failing at them is a surefire way to ruin any ROI you receive from your social efforts.

You need a plan.

Incorporating Business Goals Into Your Social Media Management

When you start planning your social content, ask yourself this:

What’s your core goal, what are you trying to achieve?

It might be growing your list, selling a specific product or service, raising awareness of your business, or generating leads. Whatever it is, it’s important to have one core goal that is the main focus of your social media plan.

You will usually find that as you work towards that goal, the other things you wanted start to happen as a side-effect.

By focusing on a single objective you’re far more likely to achieve it.

Once you get a good rhythm going in your social media plan and your core goal is being effectively met, you can focus on another one and give that your full attention.

If you try to do everything all at once, or be everything to everyone, you will end up with an incoherent message that isn’t nearly as powerful or effective as it could have been.

Adding In Launches And Important Dates

The beauty of taking the long view and really planning ahead is that you can work your major events into your social media schedule, far enough ahead that your social efforts support them.

For example, if you have a big launch coming up, you need to start teasing related content at least three months in advance.

That’s difficult to do if you don’t know when you’re doing things, or you fail to plan your social content.

Related Post: 10 Tips To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

#2 Batching

If you have a good social media management plan in place, you will know exactly what you need to create for your social schedule over the coming weeks, or even months. That means that, rather than sitting down once a week and trying to figure out what needs writing or designing, you already know and can get cracking right away.

I’ve discussed the efficacy of batching your content creation. Whether you’re blogging, Tweeting, vlogging, or posting to Instagram, there are a lot of benefits to creating a large amount of content in one go.

You will find it less time consuming overall to spend a day on creating the social media content you need for a month, than it would be to spend half a day a week dealing with what’s needed for the next seven days.

The more you batch, the more time you save. Having a marathon batching session once a quarter, once every six months, or (if you’re super organised) once a year, will maximise your productivity.

The more productive you are, the greater your ROI will be, and the less stressful your social media management becomes.

Knowing your social media is handled is a huge weight off your mind. When you have it hanging over your head, that you really should get on Twitter today, or you have to post something to Instagram tomorrow, your social media efforts become a constant, nagging, droning worry.

It might never be overwhelming, but it’s surprising how draining it is to have to think about it every day.

#3 Scheduling

When it comes to social media one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to fail to schedule things in advance.

The second biggest mistake is to schedule the wrong kind of posts, or using the wrong tool. I’ve already written a detailed post on How To Schedule Your Content Like A Boss, so be sure to check that out.

In brief, however, there are three key things you need to do when it comes to scheduling:

  1. Ensure consistency in your posting by having key posts scheduled to go out at optimum times.
  2. Repurpose your content to maximise the return you get on the time invested in creating it.
  3. Automate your lead generation and conversion process as much as possible.

Related Post: How To Make Your Online Marketing More Efficient And Effective

#4 Growth

A lot of people obsess over the number of followers they have on social media, but followers aren’t truly the best indication of growth on your social platforms. Precisely which growth markers you use to measure how your following is developing will depend on several factors:

  • Your type of product (services, products, etc.)
  • The platform you are on
  • Your objectives
  • The type of conversions you are trying to achieve

For a fuller discussion of exactly how to measure growth on social media, check out my post 10 Growth Markers: What They Mean And How To Use Them.

#5 Engagement, Impressions & Reach

Everything you do on social media is building to one thing: conversions.

Conversions are the name of the social game.

Whether you’re converting new people into followers, followers into subscribers, subscribers into paying clients, or existing clients into repeat business, social media is all about the conversions.

Just as it’s less important to have a lot of followers than it is to have high engagement, it’s far more important to have a high conversion rate than it is to have any number of followers, impressions, or reach.

The difference is, while the number of followers you have can have very little impact on your bottom line, the better your engagement and reach is, the more chance you have of converting people.

Understanding your conversion rates on social media is crucial – you can’t know how successful your marketing efforts are until you do.

Your engagement, reach, and the number of impressions you receive are part and parcel of measuring your growth. But they are also vital to the overall success of your social media marketing.

In short, the greater your reach, the more people you have the potential to convert. But reach alone is not enough, you have to engage the people you reach so that they take action.

Here are a few super-quick ways to boost your engagement, impressions and reach:

  • Post at times your audience is online (you can use analytics to determine this).
  • Pay attention to the types of posts that are most popular with your audience, and tweak your formats to suit what they like best.
  • Record your content in video format and upload it natively to your platform wherever possible, rather than simply sharing a YouTube link.
  • Use Live videos and features like Instagram Stories where possible.
  • Comment on your own posts – this is especially successful on Instagram, but works on some other sites too. If there is already a comment on a post, people are more likely to add their own (nobody likes to be first!).

Related Post: How To Boost Your Engagement And Organic Reach On Facebook

#6 Adverts

You hear a lot of horror stories about advertising on social media, from people who spent hundreds of dollars on Facebook ads and had nothing to show for it, to astonishingly high Cost Per Click (CPC) rates.

It’s true that ad campaigns can prove to be a huge waste of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. The best advice I can give here is to start with a small budget, experiment and see what works. Get super targeted with your ads and direct them straight at your ideal client, split test, tweak, and only invest more than a basic rate when you have a really good conversion rate and low CPC price,

There are plenty of ways to get better results from your Facebook Ads, but you need to be methodical about it, and have a very clear plan in place before you start. Perhaps the most important aspect of advertising on social media is to assess the success of each campaign, and mine it for as much information as possible so you can avoid repeating mistakes, and build on successes in the future.

The performance of your adverts can depend greatly on your platform. Different social media platforms require slightly different approaches, and offer various benefits and drawbacks.

Related Post: Online Advertising: Facebook vs Adwords vs Twitter vs Pinterest

#7 Retargeting

As you know by now, good social media management is all about maximising your conversions.

A 2% conversion rate is generally considered good!

But what about the other 98%?

When it comes to online marketing, retargeting is perhaps the biggest trick entrepreneurs miss, either because they don’t know about it, or they don’t understand how powerful it is. I’ve written about the use of retargeting elsewhere, but suffice to say it’s a huge asset to any social media campaign.

Retargeting takes your resources and focuses them on the other 98%. These are people who have already been exposed to your marketing message and, for whatever reason, didn’t convert.

Rather than accepting they are lost and gone forever, potentially wasted, resources expended that you will never get back, retargeting views them more as an investment that has yet to mature.

By retargeting that 98% (or whatever percentage failed to convert) you’re likely to shift that conversion rate up by an extra percent or more.

Look at it this way, how many times do you see a post or advert on social media that you think looks interesting, click through, and bookmark to come back to later. Maybe you’re not ready for it yet. Maybe you don’t have the money to spare at the moment. Maybe it’s perfect for something happening next year, but there’s nothing you can do with it right now.

Whatever your reason is for not converting, there’s a chance it isn’t that you’re not interested, but that you’re not interested right now. Retargeting catches the people who weren’t ready to convert the first time around, but will be at some point further down the line.

Related Post: 10 Smart Marketing Tips For Online Business Owners

#8 Analytics

Don’t underestimate the importance of the information contained in your analytics data.

Most social media platforms come with built-in analytics. Whichever platform you choose, make sure you have a way of effectively measuring your progress. You need to know which statistics to track, and what a reasonable benchmark is for each one on that specific platform.

Go back to the growth markers you identified as the best way to measure your progress, and make sure you have a way to consistently track those stats.

Be a little open to other forms of information too, that might at first glance seem unimportant to you. For example, a lot of people track how many views they get on their videos, but the far more useful measurement is how many people are viewing your video for a decent length of time.

When you really dig into your analytics data you’re likely to find a lot of stuff you never would have thought to look for, which will not only help you measure growth and performance, but optimise your social profile for maximum gains.

For example, information on your audience can tell you everything from their age and gender to their profession, hobbies, interests, and even how much money they spend online (that’s a little scary, right?). This is a goldmine that can help you decide when to post (i.e. which times of day your audience is online the most), what to post, what format to use, the length of post, and what products and services they’re most likely to be interested in.