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How to Save Time and Money Online

Using social media means much more than posting content on one or more social channels. To see results–and save you time and money–you need to be strategic.

Develop a social media strategy

The first step is always to develop a detailed social media strategy. Without a strategy you are just spending (wasting?) time with no purpose.

A solid social media strategy should outline your goals and the specific measurable ways you will work to achieve them. Your goal(s) should be specific to your business and can include brand awareness, generating website traffic, increased sales, or engagement around a specific issue or service.

The strategy should define the specific activities you will take. Take time to define the resources needed, how often each item will be done, and the content that will be leveraged. The more time you put into your strategy, the more success you will see with your social media efforts.

Mind your branding

Review your branding, including words, images, and colors to ensure it is clear and consistent across all of your social media channels. Use your logo for your profile pictures and ensure all profile images reflect your business.

Create an editorial calendar

Structure your posts by creating an editorial calendar. Define categories of content that will support your strategy and plan posts that target each category. Research dates and events that are relevant to your business and audience, and plan content around them.

Schedule posts 

Using a tool that allows you to schedule your posts is a great way to save time and make sure you post according to your plans. Hootsuiteand Buffer are great scheduling tools. There are others. Find one that you find easiest to use.

Participate

Your social media activities should not just be about creating and posting your content. Respond to messages or comments from followers within a reasonable time frame. You can create template responses to help speed up the process. However, always ensure that every response is personalized in some way.

You should also be looking for relevant conversations that are happening without you. Search for keywords related to your business, industry and competitors. To help, try using tools such as TweetDeckHootsuite and Sprout Social.

Evaluate and measure

The great ideas you write into your social media strategy may be great or a flop. Take time to evaluate your activities. You should have written measures of success into your strategy. There can be unexpected measures too, like when a post generates a great deal of conversation. Make sure you take time to regularly assess your social media activities and adjust to maximize successes.

This post originally appeared as a guest post at Young Design.

The Right Online Marketing Plan for You

There’s a simple formula to create the right online marketing plan for your business. I have used it for dozens of clients and the results prove it works!

There are four steps you need to take to create the right plan. The time it takes to work through them is worth it. Taking time to develop the right plan prevents you from wasting time doing the wrong things.

If you are focused on doing more on Facebook or starting an enewsletter, stop. Diving into tactics without a plan sets you up for failure. Take time to develop a plan, by following these steps:

Discovery

Gather the information needed to develop a marketing plan for your business. Define your goal and how you will know if you get there. Talk to key stakeholders, including internal staff, partners, and customers. Take a look at what you are doing now and decide what’s working and what’s not.

Strategy

Now it is time to translate the insights gained during the discovery phase into an actionable plan that targets your goals. Write down your strategy. In your head is not good enough.

Your strategy must state the goals and the specific strategies and tactics that will move you toward them. Set a timeline for each activity and define the resources needed. Who will write those blog posts and how often?

Every action item also needs a measure of success. How will you know if each effort is successful?

Implementation

Now you have a plan! But, you are not done. It is time to implement the specific activities in your plan.

Break down all the things you want to do to specific activities. Know what you need to do today, next week and next month. Focus on getting each step done and you will stay on course to achieving your overall plan.

Evaluation

As you implement your plan, you also need to evaluate. Take note of the impact of each activity. Also make periodic (quarterly?) assessments of the strategy as a whole.

Evaluation should be easy because you defined what success looks like when you created your plan. If you want people to click the link on a post, then look at click-through data. If you want comments, then look at that.

Evaluation can include informal assessments and formal evaluations such as surveys and focus groups. The important thing is that you take time to assess the value of each effort.

Use the results of your evaluations to adjust your plan. There is no sense continuing to do things that don’t work or put off adding a great idea discovered as you evaluate.