Key Elements of Social Media Strategy – Free Marketing Template!

[Download link to my free Social Media Marketing plan is at the end of this blog post!]

Social Media Marketing strategies are important to any organization looking to grow their audience online. There are some key factors that must be considered when making your marketing strategy if you want things to run smoothly, especially if you’ll be working with a team of other gurus

line_chartFirst you must come up with some objectives for your Social Media growth. Think about what goals you want your company to reach by establishing and nourishing an online presence. Are you aiming to create a solid space for customer service, are you strictly looking for a way to interact with your consumers, do you want to gain more attention for your brand, or are you looking to do all of the above? It’s important to have a clear set of goals in mind before continuing with your plan.

The next key step is defining your audience. Do some research to determine which groups you will be targeting with your Social Media messages; young women who are into video games, parents over the age of fifty, or even as broad as ‘college students’, to give a few examples. Such information can be gathered by studying user_groupsimilar brands and their audiences, or building your Social Media pages and watching closely with data analyzing tools like Facebook Insights and PeerIndex. Once you have groups targeted as your key audiences think about their specific objectives, as different groups will respond to your marketing messages in different ways.

You’re almost ready to start thinking about how you’ll build your presence online! Consider the ways you can integrate Social Media into your website, and how you’re going to deliver your messages. Will you use e-mail marketing campaigns, attend events in person, or put Social Sharing buttons on your website? Will you create an online forum where your audience can gather, or will you present your website on other forums and message boards? You also want to consider which Social Media venues are going to best suit your website. Facebook and Twitter are a staple in Social Media plans for all companies, though your audience may also fit well with Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, or YouTube. Choose venues that will fit your pre-defined audience and be confident in why you’re picking them selectively.

Once you have you platforms chosen you should decide what tools you’re going to use to deliver these messages and monitor data. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are popular choices, but which is best for your brand? You should also consider whether you’ll use the web versions of these applications, or if you’ll be downloading desktop versions and purchasing upgrades so that you have more options. Take the time to hammer out what roles your fellow team members will be have, too, so that each person has clearly defined responsibilities in your marketing plan.

graphNext, consider how often you’ll be checking the data for your various Social Media accounts, what you’ll use to gather said data, and then what you’ll do with the information. Will you have weekly, monthly, or yearly check-ins to see if your messages are being properly delivered to your audiences? Will you use Google Analytics, Klout, Facebook Insights, or a combination of the above? And finally, what will you do to make sure any negative data can be changed to positive data in the future? Try to summarize ideas for the ways you may be able to alter your marketing plan in the future, if your data isn’t coming out the way you’d like it to.

Once you have everything in a neat package, I suggest creating a marketing plan timeline and outlining any major goals you have for your company’s Social Media presence. For example, if you’d like to see a solid amount of participation on your Facebook page within six months, or double your Twitter followers within a year, note those objectives in your timeline so you have clear goals to reach.

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An excellent way to end your marketing plan is with a brief summary of your well-defined plans, tactics, goals, and implementations. You can also touch upon any budget restrictions you may have, as some Social Media tools can involve recurring payments made for upgraded plans. Even if you over-estimate what you’ll need for your budget, it’s a good idea to have all potential expenses written in your plan so that nobody is broadsided by costs.

In closing, you can download my Social Media Marketing Plan template for free and use it to craft your own long-term strategy with all of the elements mentioned in this blog post. Good luck and have fun!

If you like my free marketing plan template, please return the favor and give @Omnomedia a follow on Twitter!

Tumblr vs. Pinterest

Tumblr and Pinterest, while similar in purpose, are very different in execution. They tend to serve two unique audiences, and with Pinterest rapidly growing to compete with Tumblr’s avid fan-base, competition between the two is heated. If you’re creating a Social Media marketing plan for your business, group, or company, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between these two sharing sites so that you can choose which will work best for you.

Let’s examine exactly what each of them do.

tumblrTumblr is considered a micro-blogging platform and is quite similar to Twitter in that content filters down through one main, simple feed in blocks of images and text. I like to consider Tumblr posts as miniature blog posts that rely heavily on images and video to catch the eye. You’re looking for re-blogs and likes on Tumblr to add posts to your personal collection on your profile, and as a way to find others with similar interests. On Tumblr you can easily look at who else as liked and re-blogged a certain post, then follow them if their personal page looks interesting to you. You can also find topics by doing keyword searches, so the tagging system is very important.

pinterestPinterest is coined as a visual pin-board for images that users want to keep in their personal collection. Instead of chunky mini-blogs, you re-pin what you see around the internet and on other pin-boards, adding them to your personal, categorized collections. Making pins easy to find in searches relies on supplying adequate information in the summary before pinning, and on using keywords that will come up in Pinterest searches. Images that you’ve pinned show up both on your profile in stacks, and in your main feed amidst a sea of pins from people that you follow.

What are the main similarities?

Both Tumblr and Pinterest serve as media-heavy feeds and collections of images that users keep on their own profiles by Liking and re-blogging or re-pinning. Each of these Social Sharing venues allow for commenting and participation, though Pinterest makes it visually simpler to add comments and Tumblr users tend to only promote the best comments on each post. In whole, both Tumblr and Pinterest serve as popular SEO tools for driving traffic to websites and promoting personal interests.

How about the differences?

First and foremost; user interface. Aesthetically speaking Tumblr offers one option for the main feed – a grey-blue backdrop under a white background for posts, with colorful buttons at the top representing the options users have. These options include text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video posts. Users also have a mini-dashboard to the right where they can tumpistlook at their own Likes and posts, find other blogs, and check out daily featured posts. Personal pages, however, can be tailored to users’ preferences with a plethora unique layouts, both from Tumblr itself and from many free sites around the web.

Pinterest is very different aesthetically in that it offers a simple off-white background and some tones of light gray, which helps their red logo and red Follow buttons pop. Otherwise, the only way you can personalize your page is by adjusting the different pin-boards to have specific covers, and by shifting the boards around so that they appear in a certain order. Pinterest clearly wants users to focus more on the images displayed by it’s many users than on personal individuality.

User Interface Summary: Tumblr offers visual uniqueness and preference while Pinterest offers a blended hodge-podge of visuals without the possibility of personalization.

Differences in use come down to simple button clicks. Tumblr users have more options in what type of media they can post – text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video – while Pinterest only allows photography and video pins, and not from every website out there on the net (Facebook, for
Screen shot 2012-12-11 at 1.48.52 PMexample). With Pinterest you must install a “Pin It”  button on your browser’s menu bar, and when you come across something you want to share you simply hit the button, choose the photo, and a small window opens up. From there you decide which pin-board you’d like the photo to fall into and add a summary of 500 characters or less, finally hitting the red “Pin It” button to post. You can also choose to share it to your Twitter and Facebook right from that window, if you have your profile integrated with those other Social Sharing venues.

Tumblr does everything from within the main feed on their site. You have all of your options above the feed, and clicking one of them takes you to another page very similar to what you’d see when making a blog post. You have a plethora of options for tailoring your post to your liking, as well as the ability to insert links and tag it like crazy.tumblr1 Unlike Pinterest you must do the work yourself and either upload your media or link to it directly. Tumblr gives users more room for longer posts, too, but lacks the ability to add other contributors to accounts – a unique feature Pinterest possesses.

Use Summary: Pinterest offers better off-site integration with simple clicks, and Tumblr requires users to treat their media like blog posts but offers more options for what can be posted.

While the general purpose of both are similar (sharing what you love), Tumblr and Pinterest seem to have different missions. Pinterest clearly states on their About page that they want to ‘connect people from all over the world’, while Tumblr states on their About page that they help you ‘effortlessly share anything’, and ‘customize everything’. Tumblr seems to want to promote engagement as re-blogging is a staple in their interface, and they encourage the idea that posts can grow and evolve as the general community adds to them. Pinterest wants to help users find each other with similar interests and promote nonstop eye-candy for them to add to their collections. When looking at the main feeds of both sites, one can see that Pinterest is more artistically driven in a broad array of visual topics, while Tumblr is best suited for defined passions like fandoms, special interests, memes, and social causes.

General Purpose Summary: Pinterest encourages contributions to their community and connects users with others through visual interests, while Tumblr encourages personal passions that grow their community which, in turn, spreads popular posts amongst their users.

Audience statistics play a huge role in the differences between Tumblr and Pinterest. Because Pinterest is such a fast-growing site, social-media-audienceswe know that it’s quite popular amongst Caucasian females in their mid-twenties to mid-fifties with middle-class incomes [source]. Tumblr is more evenly split between males and females, but on average it is most popular amongst young men and women of Hispanic amd Asian races [source]. From that data, we can gather that Pinterest appeals to  working class young mothers and housewives, while Tumblr caters most to young college-aged males and females of ethnic backgrounds.

With these differences we can see potential posting trends in both sites. Pinterest is most likely to be filled with DIY and home-related pins, while Tumblr operates best for special interest groups with passionate topics.

Audience Summary: Pinterest appeals to middle-aged, crafty women and Tumblr to college-aged, passionate men and women.

General Summary

If you’re looking to choose between Tumblr and Pinterest for your business, community, or company, then it’s important to factor in all of the above. You’ll want to consider the aesthetics, usability, purpose, and audience of each to decide whether Tumblr or Pinterest will best fit your website’s messages. If your audience is typically comprised of family-centered women, then Pinterest is for you. But if your audience leans towards young adults who are outspoken and would prefer customization, Tumblr is for you. My suggestion – try them both out and see which one generates more traffic to your website, while considering your own preferences for media sharing. After all, you want to have fun updating your pages!

Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report Is In!

Nielsen’s annual Social Media Report is in, and from it we can gather some very interesting facts about Social Marketing trends from his past year. Diving right into the statistics laid out in their pleasing infographics we can see that mobile apps are taking a step towards the front, with users increasing their app usages by 76% when compared to last year’s numbers. Computer-based usage is still heaviest, though – likely attributed to how very buggy those apps can be.

As for the top Social Networks, unsurprisingly Facebook took the lead by far in terms of unique visitors on personal computers. More surprising is that Blogger came in second, with Twitter and WordPress not far behind. Following them were Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Myspace, and Wikia – in that order. Twitter, WordPress, Google+, Tumblr, and Wikia all saw positive growth in users, with Pinterest seeing a 1,047% increase [Source]. For this reason Nielsen chose to spotlight Pinterest in their review.

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Pinterest is fast becoming a Social Media powerhouse, having seen sharp increases in usage in just this past year alone [Source]. While the Pinterest audience is heavily split with far more females than males using their service, the median age of use is early 20’s to mid 30’s and predominately white by race. Because of these statistics marketers have a very specific audience on Pinterest which they can tap into, and with a very high total for minutes spent on the website they’ve got an excellent attention span to grab hold of.

Nielsen made sure to point out that Twitter is taking a lead role in mixing Social Media with television. More and more users are watching TV while using their mobile devices to access their favorite programs, commenting and discussing these shows on Twitter with friends and family. The number of users Tweeting about television grew almost steadily month to month, from 26% in January 2012 to 33% in June 2012 [Source].

Advertising and Social Media customer service from online companies saw interesting numbers this year, too. According to Nielson 47% of Social Networking users tapped into the Social Care offered by websites, and one in every three users preferred to contact companies this way instead of by phone [Source]. Although 33% of 09Social Media users found Social Networking advertisements to be more annoying than others, over a quarter of users will still pay attention to them – especially on Facebook. Nielsen found that ‘Social Likes’ and shared ads greatly increase brands’ visibilities online.  What are consumers using brand and company pages for? 70% of consumers listen to the experiences of others on Social Sharing sites, 65% use the sites for learning more about brands, products, and services, and 53% compliment the brands. Half of users complain or leave comments of concern, while 47% discuss monetary incentives [Source].

Some more interesting facts came up in Nielsen’s report that are definitely worth taking note of. While personal computers lead for how users are connecting to Social Media sites, mobile phones, tablets, and other handheld devices follow suit. In terms of why people connect with others through these sites, the most popular reasons simply come down to knowing their fellow users in real life and wanting to keep in touch with them. Where are they connecting most? Humorously, young adults aged 18 to 24 are using Social Media in the bathroom, while adults aged 25 to 34 are mainly using it in the office [Source]. Finally, 76% of users had an overall positive experience using Social Networking sites this past year, which is what we Social Media gurus love to hear!

In summary, personal computers still reign and Facebook is the King of Social Networking all around, but smaller underdog sites and mobile apps are certainly beginning their climb to the top. Compared to the numbers Nielsen reported in 2011, these statistics are not straying from the overall trend that we’ve been seeing for Social Media. It will continue to grow year by year and become the ultimate resource for consumerism, advertising, and media networking.

All images and statistics taken from Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report

Spotlight: Instagram

Instagram has become a sensational hit in the realm of cellphone photo apps, making it easier and more beautiful than ever for the average user to share gorgeous photographs with their friends and family. Just this year Instagram reached a staggering 50,000,000 users and was purchased by Facebook [source], making it a powerhouse social media tool.

Every worthwhile company and organization has a Facebook and a Twitter page, but what about Instagram accounts? These days, more and more businesses are catching on to the idea that Instagram can be an incredibly beneficial venue for delivering content to fans, and for drawing more attention to their brands.

Just this past week Instagram released a web version of their app [source], much to the pleasant surprise of it’s many users. These web profiles can now be viewed online, as opposed to the previous design which forced users to download the app or go through a third party website. Not only will this give businesses another way to showcase their photos to fans without forcing them to have an Instagram account, but these web profiles are presented in a very attractive way that will keep them coming back.

How can Instagram be great for marketing?

Instagram makes it incredibly easy to post your photos to other Social Sharing sites like Twitter and Facebook for a seamless tie-in with your overall marketing scheme. While this social sharing tool is best suited for specific brands, with a little creativity it can work for anyone. The key – as with any Social Media venue – is to post interesting things, tag them correctly so that they can be found in searches, and communicate with your fan-base.

Instagram handles usernames like Twitter does, with an @ symbol before the name. They also utilize Twitter’s hash-tag system which allows users to tag their uploaded photos and make them searchable. For example, if you own a shoe store and you’re posting a photo of some cute winter boots going on sale, you could hash-tag it with #snow, #winter, #boots, #shoes, and #sale to cast out a wide web of incoming searches. Though some claim that Instagram’s hash-tag system is a mess and the tags do not work well, you can cover your bases by using personalized hash-tags about your brand and asking your fans to use them as well when on Instagram.

How do you get Instagram fans?

If you’re starting out with an already popular brand this won’t be too tricky, but otherwise you’ll need to pull out some known tricks. Include a blurb in your next newsletter saying that they should follow you on Instagram for the latest photos from your company, and link right to your Instagram web profile. You can also send out the occasional Tweets and Facebook updates including a hot new photo you’ve taken with Instagram, linked directly to your account. 

A sure-fire way to get people commenting on your photos and saving them to their favorites, is to do that very thing for them. Show your fans, customers, followers, and community that you not only appreciate their presence, but you care about what they’re putting out there. Social Media appreciation is a two-way interactive street and if you want your followers to recognize you as a person behind the brand, you have to prove it. Show them a little love and they’ll show you a little love back.

In that same respect you can run a contest or a campaign encouraging your Instagram followers to post photos related to your brand or field of interest, asking them to use a specific hash-tag so that these photos are easy to find. You can also ask them to Tweet the photo entries to your Twitter, post them to your Facebook page, and share them with friends. Then you can travel around Instagram, favoriting the photos and commenting on the ones that knock your socks off.

How else can I optimize Instagram for marketing?

If you have a company, business, or group that has multiple locations or regular events, then using Instagram’s geo-tagging feature will help clue your fanbase into where you are and where you will be next. Throw a big party or have a sale, send out a few photos to your followers, and geo-tag them properly with your location so that any fans in the area can show up.

Perhaps the most basic idea for better optimization of your Social Media pages is to check out the analytics for your page. Take a look back through your Instagram photos and see which ones are garnishing the most likes and getting the most comments – this is a window into what sorts of photographs your audience is most receptive towards. You can also use free Instagram analytics tools such as Statigram and Simply Measured to track account growth and even gain insight into what time of day your followers engage the most.

The bottom line

Instagram has massive potential, as long as businesses are willing to take the proper steps to grow their community. With the new addition of web profiles it’s easier than ever to edit your account online and share your Instagram profile with others, which should only help this nifty photo tool become a staple in Social Marketing. If you’ve got a product or an idea to sell to your followers, brainstorm ways to get it onto Instagram and secure your place in this quickly growing Social Sharing giant.