Social media can be a powerful tool for freelancers, solopreneurs, coaches, and consultants to use to grow your business. Here are 6 CRITICAL ingredients that you MUST include in your social media marketing plan.
By including all 6 ingredients, you will have a massive, stable foundation for your online marketing efforts. But if you leave one out, you’ll find yourself stumbling in the dark and taking decades to get to where you could otherwise end up in a couple of months.
(For background, see also: 4 Most Critical Strategies for Freelancers & Solopreneurs.)
It’s been said that, if you don’t know where you want to go, then you can count on never getting there.
The same is true for social media marketing. You need to understand the outcome that you want to achieve first. Then you can put together a plan to get there.
This is the piece that most freelancers, solopreneurs, coaches, and consultants miss. They don’t have a clear picture of where they want to end up. At best, most have a vague notion that they want to get more followers or maybe more sales. But this vague notion doesn’t bring the momentum that you need in order to put a serious strategy into motion.
A better, more targeted plan usually requires additional data and information. So, you need to move on to Step 2.
Next you need to identify the characteristics of the audience that you want to build. This is important for several reasons.
For example, the needs and pain points of people who want to become executives climbing the corporate ladder are very different from the needs and pain points of people who want to be able to have an income that allows them to spend more time with their kids at home. And, different still are the needs and pain points of people who want to be digital nomads and live a laptop lifestyle as they travel the world.
A big domino is that one thing that will flip the switch for your audience so they can make the massive change they are looking for. The Big Domino of the corporate executives is different from the Big Domino of the stay-at-home parents, and different still from the Big Domino of the digital nomads.
You won’t be able to interest a digital nomad audience with messages intended for corporate executives. Your messages should be congruent to your audience. And, you must have congruency across ALL of your messaging and branding.
You identify your audience by asking yourself some questions:
- How old are they?
- Where do they work? What do they do?
- What is their income level?
- What kinds of interests do they have? Personal and business?
- What are some of their struggles or pain points?
- What kinds of obstacles or objections might they have?
- What are their habits, likes, and dislikes?
- What motivates them?
When identifying your target audience, focus on what they WANT, not what they NEED. People are overwhelmingly more likely to invest in what they WANT than in what they NEED.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can identify their Big Domino. Ask yourself, “What ONE THING would provide the biggest positive difference in letting my audience make a massive change toward what they really want?”
This ONE THING will be the Big Domino for your audience. Once you know the Big Domino, your entire product line should be built around knocking down the Big Domino.
You know, it’s kinda like when you create a pattern by setting up dominos. There’s one domino that, when you knock IT down, the whole pattern tips over in a sequence.
And, all of your messaging should be focused and congruent on how YOUR service is the ONLY THING that will let your audience knock down that Big Domino in their own lives.
Once you have identified and defined your audience, you need to understand where they hang out and congregate.
In today’s world, social media is often the best place to start.
You should pick one social media platform and spend 90 days becoming an expert in that particular platform. Only after 90 days should you consider expanding to a second platform, again spending 90 days becoming an expert in that platform as well.
Overall, you should plan on being engaged in no more than 3(THREE) social media platforms in total. No matter how expert you are, more than 3(THREE) social media platforms can be too overwhelming to adequately keep up with.
Your choice of social media platforms should be based on a combination of three things:
- Which social media platform is your audience MOST LIKELY to hang out on.
- Which social media platform matches best with your own personality type.
- Which social media platform is best suited to convert your public, open audience over into your private, permission-based marketing audience.
Each social media platform attracts a different demographic. And, you will find that, for your particular target audience, one or two social media platforms will be most ideal.
Here’s a great place to start in order to understand these demographics.
But you should also take into consideration which social media platform you’ll be most comfortable on. For example…
- Facebook is a great place for lots and lots of discussion and conversation.
- Twitter is a powerful place for sharing content of all kinds, but less powerful for discussion.
- Instagram is a great place for engagement that’s focused on visual media, but less so for any other kind of content.
(As a note, I’m focusing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the sake of brevity in this story. But you should be aware that YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and others are all options to consider, as well.)
Your own personality type will determine which of these you’ll be most comfortable on.
Now, there’s one more key thing to understand…
Social media is intended for socializing, not selling. Your social media plan should focus on providing valuable content, branding yourself as an authority, and getting permission to move your public audience into a private, marketing forum.
You do this on social media by contributing to and engaging in public conversation in a meaningful way, like you might at a cocktail party.
Where appropriate to the conversation, you provide valuable content to your social media audience. This is content that you create that solves a problem that your audience faces. It also establishes you as an authority in this subject area.
And occasionally (no more than 20% of your posts or engagement) you invite people into your inner sanctum. This is a private audience–usually your email list–where they have either implicitly or explicitly given you permission to market to them.
This is why the third characteristic of your first social media platform is all about how easily you can convert people from that platform onto your email list.
(Here are some great email list tips from Liz Huber:
For example, Twitter is all about sending your Twitter followers to other places on the internet. And, it’s relatively easy to build a large Twitter following. But it’s been said that you need 10,000 Twitter followers to get the same outcomes that you can get out of 1,000 good Facebook followers.
On the other hand, while Facebook is great of long, engaged conversations, Facebook doesn’t like to let people leave the platform to go to other places on the web.
And Instagram only has ONE PLACE where most people can put a clickable link (in your profile bio)–not in ANY post.
The combination of all 3(THREE) characteristics should define which social media platform to start with.
If I were to give a rule of thumb, it would be this: If you are an extroverted person who loves to socialize and carry on conversations, consider Facebook as your starting social media platform. If you are more introverted, but likely to thrive through providing a ton of AWESOME content, start with Twitter.
But only decide after you’ve checked out the demographics for your target audience.
Once you have chosen your initial social media platform, you need to create a content plan. To do this, you need to understand what you are trying to accomplish on social media. The reality is that it’s pretty simple:
- Build Your Audience
- Engage With Your Audience
- Convert Your Audience To Your Email List
The beauty is that you can do all three of these things through providing content. And, providing content is how you get your audience to know you, like you, and trust you.
Content can be in a lot of different formats:
- Livestreamed Video
- Pre-recorded Video
- Text Posts
- Messenger Messages
Be aware that some types of content have greater reach on some social media platforms. For example, livestreamed video currently has the greatest reach on Facebook. Second is pre-recorded native video. In some cases, Facebook penalizes posts that have a link to content outside of Facebook (such as a blog post or web site).
But any steps you can take to create and post video quickly and easily are all worthwhile.
One of the most important things about social media is that you have to be consistent. This means posting every day, usually 2 to 5 times per day.
That means that your content creation needs to be consistent as well. You should be creating new content every day, although large pieces of content may be just once per week.
The thing a lot of pros recommend is to have a content creation pattern each week.
Start the week out by dedicating one day (i.e. Monday) to primarily creating content. This will include one keystone piece of content, like a major blog post, video, or livestream, with a number of smaller memes, text posts, short videos, etc., which are congruent with your keystone content piece.
Then you post and promote your content through out the rest of the week.
Alternatively, you may choose to create a piece of content every day. Even in this case, you will want to have a plan for the week, so that your content can be congruent throughout the course of the week.
You may find that it’s helpful to use a scheduling tool to schedule out when your content will post on social media.
This is especially helpful when you are managing posting your content across several different social media platforms. Some tools will let you schedule all of your posts across all of your social media platforms. And, some will even give you a consolidated calendar that gives a big picture of ALL your posts.
When you put together an organized plan to create content, you have to watch out for one BIG risk…
Creating, publishing, and promoting content can become very one-directional… You start communicating out, but not taking in any communication in the other direction.
Remember, social media is all about socializing. It’s about relationships. And, a key part of that is robust conversations.
The more you plan, schedule, strategize, and automate your content creation, the more you need to focus in on engaging your audience in meaningful discussion.
Here are many ideas of the kind of content that will help you connect and engage with your audience:
- Share your lifestyle. People want to FEEL like they know you. So, the more you can bring them into your world, the more they will connect with you.
- You feel me? Be someone that people can relate to. It’s OK to touch on your minor struggles if you can do it in an uplifting or educational way.
- Share your blog posts. If you have a blog, share your blog posts with your audience. This gives you a longer-format platform to let your audience get to know you.
- Current events. If you can do so in an unbiased, non-political way, post occasionally on things like celebrity news and social media updates.
- I need help! Ask your audience for help and recommendations. This can be as simple as “I’ll be in XYZ City tomorrow night. What’s a good restaurant for dinner?”
- Tips and How-To’s. Any kind of educational value you can offer will always put you in the authority seat and show people you know your stuff. Share a quick infographic, video, or meme with steps. Be sure, though, that it is of interest to your audience of readers, not necessarily writing tips.
- Spotlight others. Share other people’s success. Let them know you are happy to see them winning.
- Motivational/Inspirational Quotes. Create your own and include your branded logo.
- What’s on your mind? Your own perspective and thoughts can be enlightening and inspire others with your unique value. And, it helps them FEEL connected to you.
- Book worm suggestions. Suggest a book that you’re reading or ask your audience what they are currently reading.
- Take a selfie. Especially if they are fun and relate back to your audience’s Big Domino, they help your audience relate to you.
- Share things you love to do. You can’t over-do this one. Pull back the curtain of your life and let your audience know what you are passionate about.
- Jump back in time with your audience and let them see what you were doing on this day in 1986 (or whenever).
- Give them something to think about. Stir up emotions and help your audience get their juices flowing. This builds rapport. But, be sure to do this in a non-partisan, non-biased, non-political way.
(Ideas courtesy of Jen Johnson.)
Dedicate time every day for reading and watching other people’s posts and jumping into conversations on those posts. The more you can initiate conversations with your followers, the more that they will want to check out your posts and jump into conversations about your stuff.
And in the end, it’s that two-way conversation that helps your audience to know you, like you, and trust you–and eventually want to BUY from you.
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