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When planning a social media marketing campaign the first thing you must do is assess your current situation. What are your general goals? What needs fixing or could use improvement? The items that usually make the list are: Requiring more sales leads, requiring better sales leads, and current sales leads are too expensive. Critical success factor: Failing to set appropriate goals prevents many companies from succeeding with social media marketing before they have even started. In this step, you want to establish your baselines. Where do your leads come from currently? How many come from advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, or other avenues? How much do they cost? Do you score them for how good one type is versus another? The better you can establish these numbers up front, the better you will be able to measure against them. Okay, now that you've set the baselines how exactly would you like the situation to change in the long term? This is where you should do some research. What have other companies, in as similar a situation comparable to yours, been able to do? If you find a couple of companies that are in your industry have been able to increase their sales leads per dollar by 20%, you have good basis with which to start. And one other thing on goals: Be reasonable. If your time-frame for a sale from first contact to close is 12 months, expecting a sales increase in six months is unreasonable. Hoping, yes; expecting, no.Your short-term goals should be to find out if social media marketing can work for you. How do you figure that one out? Easy. Once you have been up and running for a while gauge your audience’s participation levels. Are they commenting on your blog posts? Re-tweeting your tweets? Asking you questions? Becoming involved in the conversations? Talk to your audience. Ask them what they like and don’t like and how you can better engage with them. Critical success factor: Social media marketing programs can take time. If your program has weak or indifferent support you will be susceptible to cutbacks or cancellation. A big part of your plan should revolve around getting buy-in from the stakeholders at your company. You need buy-in from management, but also from all those people that will be affected by your social media marketing program: Sales, marketing, IT, and, in particular, all the people you intend to button hole to be your content engine. Your basic plan is to deliver content to your audience via social media platforms to accomplish a purpose. In your plan you need to define all these things.You also need to clearly define the roles and commitment required from the people who will be involved.You should clearly delineate risks versus potential rewards. Social media marketing programs are great for risk/reward as you invest little cash; you mostly invest people’s time. You don’t have huge sunk costs in capital equipment or software commitments. You should also mention the company’s risk in being left behind. You don’t want to scare people or come across as threatening, but pointing out how social media marketing is being adopted by others in your industry is fair game. Be ready for all the excuses. Don’t get blind-sided. Let everyone understand that this is an opportunity to be leading edge; to be seen as an industry leader. Good social media marketing plans include real business goals and the backing of everyone involved in the company to achieve those goals.
Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media. He has over 25 years' experience in high-tech sales and management, most recently as general manager of a PCB manufacturer. He can be reached through his website www.practicalsmm.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.