When people hire me to help them integrate social media into their marketing strategies, the first step is drafting a comprehensive document that lays out the following:
- Target market
- What terms prospects use to search for them online
- Preferred social media platforms
- How they'll brand them
- How they'll drive traffic to their main website or blog
- How they plan to connect with followers
- A specific strategy for each network (you may post different content and have a different client base on Twitter versus LinkedIn, for instance)
- What their competitors are doing on these chosen platforms
These custom marketing plans are often more than 80 pages long and cost approximately $5,000. More basic consulting services can cost between $1,000 and $1,500, but you'll get better results by crafting an in-depth strategy.
Some companies will also offer to execute your media plan by building, managing and reporting on the performance of your custom profiles. This could increase your costs to more than $15,000.
Whichever option you choose, growing your online presence is an ongoing process. So, set out how much you can realistically spend on both creating and managing your media strategy from the outset.
A major part of fleshing out your marketing plan is determining whether you'll outsource social media tasks, hire new employees or delegate the tasks to existing staff.
Social network prioritization
You don't have to be on every single social network. Prioritize the ones that let you communicate with colleagues and your clients. They're mostly likely to be on:
- Blogs: So maintain a strong blogging presence that positions you as the expert. Read: Blogs enhance your online presence
- LinkedIn: It's the largest online professional network, and you can join groups specific to your target market (dentists or retirees, for instance) Read: 11 ways to use LinkedIn effectively
- Twitter: You can easily connect you with potential prospects and share links to drive traffic back to your website. Read: Clever tweets aid brand building
- Google+: Since Google runs the site, posts here are most likely to appear in online search results. This isn't the case for networks like Facebook and Twitter, which often restrict search engines from accessing their data, meaning posts on those sites are less visible to prospects.
Advisors often avoid Facebook, however, since it's a constant battle to get exposure in the news feed without spending extra advertising dollars.
It's crucial to keep an eye on which networks are driving the most traffic and referrals to your main site. Also find out which posts and keywords bring in the most hits. Though any changes to your overall plan will likely be slight, always be open to tweaking your strategy based on these findings.
Brand all profiles
Make sure to fill out and tailor your profiles by including information about your services and firm. Also outline your background and any unique expertise.
Once they're complete, brand every profile by incorporating your logo in every platform's cover photos and backgrounds. Make sure the images used are the right size for each network's specifications.
You can also include logos in any videos or PowerPoints you upload. Including video is now possible on LinkedIn using its multimedia feature, for instance, and you can add short videos on Twitter.
Read: Become a better brander
Educate your clients & prospects
Once you're ready to launch and market your profiles, decide how you'll talk to prospects and clients.
It's best to use an education-based marketing strategy. You should post content on topics relevant to your target market's financial lives and portfolios.
But don't send out messages too often since followers may perceive them as spam. Your posting frequency will vary across networks—you can post several times a day on Twitter, but should only blog once a week and email once every few weeks—so determine what's appropriate early on.
It's also crucial you don't send someone a message just to advertise your new blog or event. Make sure to personalize every direct message, and only offer information your clients or prospects will value.
Finally, decide how you'll follow up with those who contact you or join your networks. To do so, answer these questions in your official media plan:
- Where are you engaging with people and how often?
- What do you say when you reach out to new connections?
- What's your response after they accept your requests?
- How do you sustain your new relationships?
- How can you move this conversation offline?