How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan for Home Business

Tips to Mastering Social Media Marketing

Social Media Plan
Manage social media with a plan. Credit: Pingebat | Getty Images

Updated July 2016

Social media marketing is an ideal way to promote your business. It's free, it's easy, and often, it's fun. The problem is that it's also overwhelming and unwieldy, and can be difficult to track the results of. There are many great social media marketing resources that adequately explain the various networks and how to use them. Unfortunately, they don’t do a very good job explaining how to make a daily social media plan.

If you’re struggling with social media, here are tips to making a plan that is effective without taking too much time.

Part One: Pre-Planning Social Media

Before you start tweeting and sharing your home business, you need to make sure your profiles are promo-ready, and you know what results you want from social media. The first step is to visit each of the social networks you use and make sure you’ve:

1) Uploaded an appropriate picture. Unless you make bathing suits or sell travel services in your home business, a picture of you in a bikini at Cancun probably won’t work. Consider your business and audience and choose a photo that fits. A photo of you will be more appealing than your logo, although you want to consider your brand image and what you want people to remember. Make sure it’s a good quality photo, which doesn’t mean it has to be taken by a professional, but it should have good resolution.

2) Completed the majority of the profile sections. On some sites, you can get away with not filling out everything, such as your favorite movies. But you should complete all the sections that are important to your business.

3) Followed influencers in your industry. Social media isn’t just about people following you, it’s about you following others, as well.

Start by connecting with people who you admire or enjoy, particularly in your home business industry.

4) Integrate social media tools on your website or blog. At a minimum, you should have links to your profiles so that your visitors can follow you, and social media share buttons so they can share your content with their followers. However, there are many other great tools you can use to save time and increase results. For example, including a “Click to Tweet” option on your posts (you can use this Click to Tweet generator or a WordPress plugin - search your plugin directory) makes it easy for your reader to tweet your content. Integrating Facebook comments on your WordPress blog can increase engagement with your market. I use a plugin called CoSchedule to create and schedule my blog posts on social media within WordPress. But you can use Hootsuite (which has WP plugin) or Buffer instead. Another WP plugin to consider is Revive Old Post, which after 30 days (or whatever you choose) will randomly pick content in the categories you choose and Tweet it.

5) Decide what results you want from social media. The short answer to that is sales or clients, but posting “buy my stuff”or "hire me" all the time doesn’t work and, in fact, will result in losing followers.

Instead, think about what you can post that can ultimately lead to sales, such as more traffic or email subscribers. Some social media posting goals might be to:

1) Increase readership of your blog.

2) Get more email subscribers.

3) Find more followers across other social media sites (i.e. promoting a Facebook fan page on your Twitter feed).

4) Increase influence (credibility and expertise) with your target market.

5) Built rapport with your target market (i.e. showing you’re fun or friendly).

Every social media post you make should have an end goal result attached to it. So if you post the URL of your most recent blog article, the goal might be to increase readership and influence, and to build rapport.

Part Two: Sharing on Social Media

When it comes to social media, you have two jobs. One: to share stuff to meet your goals above,  and Two: to engage with others. First, we’ll cover sharing.

Sharing Your Content

The challenge in social media sharing is in maximizing the exposure. This is hard because each platform is different. Some limit the number of characters (Twitter) and others involve primarily graphics (Pinterest or Instagram). Here are easy steps to planning your sharing strategy:

1) Decide what you're sharing. Are you sharing a blog post, email sign up list, giveaway, inspiration, etc. In your planning, you should have a variety of things to share. For example, I share new blog posts, reshare old posts, promote my newsletter, and cross-promote across social media (i.e. share my Pinterest feed on Facebook). 

2) Decide how you'll share it. Will you simply post a text? Are you taking a selfie and adding a text overlay? Is it a video? At the very least, consider making a graphic or two. Today, graphics are crucial to getting your content noticed, so consider making shareable graphics. There are many places to find free and low-cost graphics. For example, you can create a graphic for Pinterest and Facebook that has your blog post title or a compelling quote from your blog post. The difficulty in using graphics is that each network has its own recommended size, and often those change. For easy, you can use an image resizer like the one at Sprout Social or Internet Marketing Ninjas, to crop and adjust your images for each network you use.

3) Share your post on your networks at the time of the post. Get initial eyeballs on your post by getting it online when it's ready.

4) Schedule reposts of content over the next few days. For example, you might Tweet your various quotes with a link to the post once a day over the next three days. When it comes to posting, watch that you don’t over post to certain networks. For example, you can get away with sending many Tweets (various content, not just your posts) a day, but that doesn’t work as well on LinkedIn. Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick in their book, The Art of Social Media (get the ebook as the print version doesn’t have URLs to all resources mentioned) recommend casual social media users post to Facebook 1-2 times, Google+ 3-4 times, LinkedIn 1 time, Pinterest 6 times and Twitter 8-12 times a day. These numbers double for hard core users. Finally, don’t forget to schedule content for your followers on the other side of the world, especially on Twitter so they’re more likely to see it.

5) Make a calendar or other written plan. Ruth Soukup of Elite Blogging Academy and LivingWellSpendingLess.com, has a color-coded spreadsheet for Pinterest on which she has scheduled what pins are posted to what group boards when. And that's just Pinterest. Having a social media calendar will help you remember to post as well as know what you should post. There are social media tools that allow you to schedule content. For example, you can set a blog post to be shared once a month over the next six months on any and all your social networks. 

6) Track what works. Google Analytics and social media tools will tell you what social media posts are achieving results. Further, your analytics will tell you what's popular on your blog or website, so you can schedule social media posts of those pages to keep the traffic up.

Engaging On Social Media

This is the area that many home business owners don’t pay enough attention to, but is crucial to social media success. Posting your content all the time without paying attention to what others are doing is the same as being at a party and only talking about yourself. So along with preparing content to go out, you need to have a plan for commenting, sharing and engaging with others. Here are tips to doing that.

1) Sign up for social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, that allows you see your feeds in one place, as well as schedule posts. If you use Hootsuite, add the Hootlet to your toolbar so you can easily share content you find online. Using a social media tool that offers scheduling allows you to share (including ReTweets) content at different times, as opposed to posting everything at once. The other advantage of a tool is that you can follow the people and feeds that you want to engage with, and filter out the noise that distracts you.

2) Pick one or two times a day to do social media engagement. Plan for 15 to 20 minutes a day total (not including preparing your posts as indicated in the section above).

3) Share 2-3 pieces of content as appropriate for your network. Using an RSS feed reader such as Feedly or a content curator like AllTop can help you find content in your industry.

4) Share 2-3 three social media posts from people you follow (i.e. Twitter retweet, Pinterest Pin, etc).  Sharing other people's content is a great way to get them to share yours.

5) Comment on 2-3 posts from your followers. Become a part of your "friends'" conversation. Again, this is a great way to increase rapport and the odds that you friends will engage and share with you.

6) Reply to others who share or comment on your posts. Not responding to comments others make to your posts is rude.

7) Like other people’s content as you come across items that appeal to you. The “Like” (Facebook) or “Favorite” (Twitter) and other similar single click engagement doesn’t pack as much punch as sharing or commenting, but it’s still engagement.

8) Repeat daily. Social media isn't a "set-it-and-forget-it tasks." You need to post and engage daily. But with a plan, you keep social media from taking too much time and ensure you're getting maximum results.