What’s more important than Google when it comes to driving traffic to your website, sales pages, and affiliate offers?
If you said social media, you’re absolutely right.
With billions of loyal users, sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram are now responsible for more than 30% of all website traffic, according to a study by Shareaholic.
Even though this method is no longer completely free and you have to include paid advertising such as Facebook Ads, YouTube Video Ads or Pinterest paid pins to get the most of them, social media is a marketing method we all need to pay attention to. But if you’ve ever tried to put the power of social media to work for your business and then not seen the results you wanted, you probably figured out pretty quickly that without a good social media plan, it’s easy to flounder around and not really achieve anything.
What to include in a good social media plan?
Here are 7 ingredients:
- What’s Happening Right Now (your blog, videos, podcasts, etc).
- Recycled content that still has value to your visitors (and you).
- Curated content (Other people’s content)
- Inspirational messages, quotes, memes, images and videos.
- Events and promotions.
- Personal stories.
- Paid advertising
The best social media plan offers a cohesive melding of all of the above to tell a story and lead followers along a natural path, much like your sales funnel does.
1. What’s Happening Right Now
You’re blogging, podcasting, being featured on other sites, and creating how-to videos for your readers, but unless they’re super fans with lots of free time, they’re unlikely to see everything you produce. You have to let them know, and social media updates are the fastest, easiest, and least expensive way to do that.
One thing it’s critical to remember: no one sees every post.
That means you will need to share the same piece of content several times—and across multiple networks—to get the best results.
Images are important in today’s social media as well. Nothing catches the eye quite like a beautiful, “pinnable” image. Better still, pull a short quote from your article or post and use a tool such as Picmonkey or Canva to add the words to your image, and you’ll see much better engagement.
2. Recycled content
Archived blog posts, older podcast episodes, and last year’s YouTube videos are an important part of your social media plan. By sharing this less-than-fresh content you can introduce your audience to more of the things they love about you, as well as get fresh eyes on profitable posts from the past.
Don’t just let an automated system recycle your content though. While that sounds like a great plan at first glance (hands-free!), it can have some unexpected results. You want to make sure you are sharing the content that’s going to bring you the most benefits, and you also need to be careful not to re-share things that are no longer relevant, such as time-sensitive posts.
Here’s what to look for when you’re searching through old content to post.
- Check your Google analytics for posts that have the most traction.
- Go through your older posts and videos and look for those that have a strong call to action (and improve others if you can).
- Choose posts that promote your products.
3. Curated Content
Sure, the point of social sharing is to drive traffic back to your site, but if all you ever do is shout “Me, me, me!” even your biggest fans will stop listening. Be sure you’re adding in a good selection of content from other providers as well.
By finding and sharing the best content in your industry, you will quickly become known as the go-to person in your market.
- Infographics. Ideal for condensing large amounts of data into a small space, infographics are popular on nearly all social media platforms.
- How-to articles. Depending on your market, how-to articles can be one of the most important types of content you create or share.
- Viral videos. Whether they’re funny, helpful, or just plain entertaining, videos are almost always a hit.
Ideally, you’ll want to share content from complementary businesses, but done right, you can even mix in articles and videos produced by your competition. Consider adding your own thoughts about the content, ask questions of your readers, and if you can, use an affiliate link.
Another option when sharing this type of curated content is to write a short post on your own site and then link to the original content from there. When you share on social media, share the post you created. It’s an extra click for your readers to get to the original, but it will improve your traffic numbers.
Short of ideas on what to curate? Keep a list of go-to sites you can check weekly for new content.
4. Videos, Images, Quotes, Inspiration
We all need a little daily inspiration, and social media is a great place to find (and share) it in the form of stunning images, powerful quotes, and inspirational messages.
While this can (and should) be scheduled to fit with your theme, you can also share these “on the fly” as you see them. A good social post plan incorporates both scheduled items as well as things that speak to you at the moment and deserve a share.
But don’t stop there. Just as you schedule a time to write blog posts and other content, spend some time each week creating your own quotes to share.
5. Events & Promotions
Time-sensitive events and sales are the cornerstones of your social posting. Ideally, you’ll want to plan these posts well in advance, so you have time to:
- Create graphics
- Research hashtags
- Plan related content (blog posts, podcasts, etc)
- Using social media calendar, map out your upcoming events and offers as far in advance as possible, then use the worksheet below to assign and organize the necessary elements.
After that, we’ll use the other items in this workbook to fill in the gaps.
If you can, create a monthly theme based around events and promotions, then tie all your social media posts into that single theme. This will help with branding, but more importantly, it will ensure you always know exactly what to write about, what videos to record, and what content to share.
Use the calendar to map out your themes for the next several months based on upcoming product releases or other events.
6. Personal Stories
Personal stories work well to sell products and services. A personal story relates how you struggled with the same problem your reader has, and you figured out a solution, which is the product you’re offering. The great thing about personal stories is that they can be completely true. No embellishment is necessary. Products that were made to solve a problem all have personal stories behind them.
7. Paid Advertising
Every online business needs traffic to their website to get subscribers and sales and the quickest way to spread a word about your business is by advertising. Most online marketers start on a shoestring budget and feel they can’t afford to use paid advertising. Fortunately, there are now many more options than even just a few years ago when the main advertising platform was Google Adwords. Now there are several social networks you can advertise on and Facebook is the largest in the world and has a very robust ad system which allows you to start with paid social ads easily even if you are a complete beginner. They help you organize your ads based on your goals, such as getting subscribers or sales, or growing the number of followers for your page so more people will see your great content. Even better, you can blend both social media marketing with advertising and get a good return on investment.
Create an automated system to save your time
As with all things in business, the less work you have to put into it, the bigger your ROI (return on investment) will be.
Much of the work of a social media posting plan can be done by a trusted virtual assistant, as we’ve already seen. Some of it though can be easily automated as well. There are many, many tools available to you to pre-schedule posts across a variety of social platforms, including:
- HootSuite – One of the first and still among the best options for managing Facebook, Twitter and Google+, HootSuite allows you to not only post updates but also monitor your feeds from one single interface.
- Buffer – With integrations for all of the most popular social platforms including Pinterest, Buffer is a popular choice, and offers both free and paid plans to suit any budget.
- Post Planner – Great for scheduling, but Post Planner’s biggest draw is its suggestions for what to post. If you struggle with engagement, Post Planner will help by offering questions you can use to spark a conversation with your followers.
- SocialBee – allows you to build a categorized library of content you can then schedule whenever you like and re-use if needed. (my favourite)
Nearly every app offers both free and paid options, or at the very least has a free trial. Sign up for several to test them out, and see which one meets your business needs best.
Organize your content with #hashtags
One way that content is organized on social media is with hashtags. Whether you’re posting to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, including hashtags will help new followers find your content. You can think of them as the index of social media.
Including hashtags in your posts is easy. Simply find the hashtags you want to use, and add them at the end of each post with the hashtag symbol, like this: #business #socialmedia #facebookads
Keep in mind that on most platforms, it’s a good idea to include no more than two or three hashtags. On Twitter especially, hashtags can quickly eat up your allotted 140 characters. On Instagram, you post them in a comment.
Aside from the most common hashtags, you might also consider creating your own unique hashtag.