Social media conceptNot long ago we started looking at the essential elements of social media marketing and today we’re back with another batch of key pointers. In the first posts we covered the importance of research, setting out clear goals and producing content for specific networks and their unique audiences.

Today we’ll carry on with the planning stage of a successful social media strategy before we get things rolling in the next post. So let’s talk budgets, schedules and integrating social media into your wider marketing strategy. Once you’re done with this post you’ll be ready to get things moving and get your social media campaign off to a flying start.

Set your budget

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is thinking social media means free advertising. In reality, social media marketing takes a huge investment of time and money to make things happen – and you need to set out a realistic budget. You need the people power to run and maintain your social presence – something that doesn’t come for free. and if Facebook is part of your social plans you need to think about paid advertising.

Organic reach on Facebook is almost non-existent, which means you need to pay up if you want people to see your content. And money aside, you need someone (or a team of people) to run and maintain your social networks if you want to effectively engage with your audience.

Decide your schedule

A regular schedule in social media marketing is important for two reasons. Firstly, you want your audience to know when your content is published so they don’t miss out on anything. But you also need to be aware that different networks have various peak times to post social content. Don’t expect to catch many LinkedIn users on a Friday, for example, and early mornings won’t get you very far on Google+.

Get to know the nature of your chosen networks and when users are most likely to find your content. You want to engage with new prospects as well as your loyal audience so do your research and post at the peak times for each platform.

Integrate social into your wider marketing strategy

Social media isn’t a standalone technique and you need to integrate your social efforts into a wider marketing strategy. Social plays a key role in building your brand, targeting relevant traffic and generating conversions – but it can’t do it all alone. Your entire content strategy, search optimisation and inbound marketing efforts need to work in sync to hit targets.

Create a journey from your social media posts to the pages on your website that generate conversions and use social micro content to grab your audience’s attention. Invite them onto mini blog posts, infographics, videos and other forms of content so you can keep them moving along the sales process and guide them towards a conversion.

Next up on Essential Elements Of Social Media Marketing

In our next Essential Elements Of Social Media Marketing post we’ll move on from the planning stage and dive into the action of social media success.