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Social media sites have become a must-have communication and promotional medium for businesses to include within their marketing plan.
Most small businesses cannot afford to spend the time and effort needed to effectively manage a business presence on multiple social media sites. For many businesses managing a presence on ALL social media sites may not be the best answer. Now that you understand the marketing potential for each social media site you will want to narrow down your list of social media sites so that you can focus on the ones that are the best fit for your type of business. With social media management tools like Sprout Social, for example, businesses can manage their entire social media presence from a single, intuitive platform. With over 20 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. In a world of micro-moment marketing, customers and prospects are seeking more bite-size content to consume.
So you’ve set up your social media empire using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and you’re blogging too. This article delivers five foolproof steps to get you on your way to finding, formulating and distributing content that will get you noticed. The first step in social media planning is largely the first step in identifying your brand—determine who you are and who your customers are.
You’ll need to determine what your readers want to know from you, what their likes and dislikes are and where they congregate. Be sure you know the lingo and style that your clients are comfortable with and where they talk to each other—on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs or on social bookmarking sites.
Most newspaper editors today have to admit that what readers want is tomorrow’s news yesterday.
Research will be a big part of your social media planning, so make sure your sources are on the cutting edge of your topic.
You’ll also want to provide analysis to help guide your readers’ absorption of the information you provide. Do the work for them by writing on point, underscoring the impacts and keeping the content valuable. Sit down now and write a list of burning questions the people you would like to have as fans and followers are asking. Who will regularly do the information-gathering, writing and distribution for your content? One thing to keep in mind: whatever schedule you set for yourself or your staff will no doubt require more time than you think, especially in the beginning. According to the recent 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, most business owners can maintain a very respectable social media presence in six hours a week, including research and production time.
The greatest time-saver and strategic tool in your content-planning arsenal is an editorial calendar. Using an editorial calendar helps you bring clarity and purpose to your content—on a committed schedule. You can also add keywords to your calendar, so you know which words you should be including in your content about a given theme. A great deal of the content we respond to, whether by creating our own posts about it or directing readers to what someone else has said, happens as breaking news. Interviews make great content as well, and because they happen less frequently, you can target individuals for monthly, bimonthly or quarterly rotation. Twitter and Facebook both have applications that will push to the other when you post to one, so know if you have set that up. Whatever Facebook RSS app you use to pull your blog posts to your profile or fan page may also be given permission to update automatically.
If given the proper permissions, HootSuite and TweetDeck (and others) can push content automatically, without you scheduling it, so they may also tweet a new blog post, for instance, when you’ve already done so using another app. The single most important component to your editorial planning should be your ability to absorb new information and create valuable content from it.

I bet you created a business plan before you invested the time and money in opening your current business, right? Subscribe to my newsletter (black box on the right) to get updates and insights on what works in social media for small business.
Many organizations and especially small businesses do not know what to look for when hiring a social media professional to manage their social media. Planning ahead is one of the most efficient and effective ways a small business can prepare for successful social media marketing. But with the growing popularity of multiple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+, how do businesses decide which social media sites will provide them with the biggest return on their time and money investment for marketing their brand? Comparing the marketing opportunities and brand benefits of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+ for business marketing will help you decide where to spend valuable time and marketing dollars. You might choose to still have a presence on all of the top social media sites, but you may also decide that you will focus your time and money on only a few sites that are the best strategic fit for your business. This plan may be as simple as assigning one or two people in your company to manage the constant flow of content to each site. Other popular social media management tools like HootSuite can help you launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audience, and distribute targeted messages across multiple social media channels. Diane also serves as the marketing director for SureShade, a growing small business that has become the new standard for shade on boats, and runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing.
It’s a fast and easy software that gives a solution to all my online marketing needs, and in addition to the social media management, i create SMS campaigns, emails, voice messaging and some more easy and effective features. They are looking for information that is quick, understandable and easy to act upon if desired. You want to reach potential clients and establish your authority online, but what’s your plan?
Content could include your own blog posts or links to others people’s work posted on your social networks.
The “social” in social media requires a conversational approach, but you still need to speak your clients’ language. How would you classify them in terms of education, hobbies, tech-savviness and time spent engaging in social networking? Most readers today—of any format—don’t feel they have the time to connect all the dots, so tell them why the information you’re sharing is relevant to them. You’ll be rewarded with clients, followers and fans who trust your information and know you won’t waste their time.
Getting started with social media content has a learning curve, so be prepared for the extra time needed to get comfortable with the process. If you have some themes that you would like to explore in intricate ways, mind-mapping helps you flesh out the many angles around any given idea. One option is this Google docs-based social media calendar to lay out your content by date and topic.
Google AdWords and Wordtracker both offer free tools to help you find the most valuable keywords for your subject. When you type your post into the left-top field, you can use the calendar button to choose your release date.
Automating posts, when done carefully, is an effective way of pushing content when you can’t be there to do it yourself. Consider going manual until you understand exactly which permissions you have opted into for each platform. Knowing that time is of the essence, this monthly outline can help you and your business stay on top of your social media efforts. There is nothing wrong with borrowed content as long as it is (1) used in moderation, (2) in line with your company tone, (3) relevant to your business or your fans. Choosing which social media sites have the biggest potential for marketing your type of business is the best way to maximize your time. A closer review of B2B and B2C marketing opportunities by social media site will help you decide which sites may offer the biggest potential for your business.

Or, it may include using a social media management or automated marketing tool that feeds updates to multiple sites from one platform. Your clients have specific issues that need solving, whether they’re about your product or service or their own business struggles that you can help untangle. For now, the most pressing questions that are top of mind should form the initial core of the topics for your editorial plan.
It can also help you plan how you would like the components of your social media plan to interact.
Share clips from the interviews you conduct or vlog your how-to article on a given week, rather than writing it.
I have found that setting up several content streams is the simplest way to find content to borrow.First, use a news aggregator like Feedly or GroSocial’s content feeds feature to subscribe to several blogs and content sources related to your industry. Before you can determine volume and frequency, you’ll want to figure out what your business can reasonably deliver.
If you can’t maintain the quality level of your content at the rate you’re trying for, reduce the frequency until you can. Use responses and questions you get to one area of content to begin planning your approach to deepen understanding on a given topic or to explore another. Many small businesses stop here, but these sources will mostly provide you with links, so for the sake of variety, you will not want to use this as your only source of borrowed content.Second, follow influencers, associations, relevant news outlets, and other businesses on Twitter. And how important is it to develop a presence on Google+ when the site traffic and activity is still growing in popularity? We know social media is important, but we just can’t seem to find the resources to leverage it to its full potential. Regardless of your position, if you work for a small business, you are pressed for time and regular posts and tweets may seem like one more task that is beyond your grasp. Unfortunately, the key to success in social media is a steady stream of interesting, engaging content that fills the needs of potential and current customers, so finding a way to stay sane and still make regular posts is the only way to conquer this demon and make peace with your social media guilt.My goal for this post is not to motivate sprinting. Instead of interrupting your work on a daily basis, you can take an hour every few days, look through your content streams, and compose and schedule your posts in bulk.Promotions and Special EventsRegular social posts in an important pillar of social media, but your following may find it stale without an occasional contest, giveaway, offer or special event. The law firm I referenced earlier found that monthly promotions were the main driver in new fan acquisitions. In my work with small businesses, I’ve seen hundreds of entrepreneurs and marketers that bite off more than they can chew, only to give up after a few months later because they couldn’t keep the pace.In contrast, I recently spoke with a marketing director for a local law firm who took a more balanced approach to social marketing. Think of promotions and special events as a way to get more fans, and regular content as a way to keep those fans engaged and interested.
Like most of you, he has limited resources and is responsible for all of the firm’s marketing collateral, including design assets and copy. He told me, very openly, that he initially thought social media was a waste of his marketing dollars and time, until he took a more balanced approach: one giveaway or promotion per month, and Facebook posts every two to three days. Six months later, and the firm receives 15 potential client calls per month from a tracking number posted on its Facebook page.
If you post more often, you can accelerate your results.In creating posts, you can wing it, but this usually translates into inconsistency. You may also excessively focus on a narrow range of topics, making your content stale and monotonous. You can largely avoid these problems by creating a simple content calendar, setting up content streams, using a post scheduler and peppering your content with occasional promotions and special events.Simple Content CalendarContent calendars can range from simple to complex, but what works for one social media manager may not work for another, as you may want more flexibility or rigidity. With that in mind, try to adapt your content calendar with your personal style.If you like to keep it simple, I have found that a daily theme works well. If you are shooting for one or two posts per day, you might try something like this:Big Ideas Sunday – Share expert advice or a short quote.

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