Social Media Marketing (SMM) can be used to build brand authority and to influence the perception of your company.  It should always be used to engage and interact with people who will be interested in your products or services.  You can also use social media to bring traffic to your website through the sharing of valuable content.  This can attract links to your website to gain better search engine rankings.

How to plan your social media campaign

Before you plunge into any social media marketing campaign, always take some time to plan what it is you want to accomplish.  How are you going to launch your social media initiative?

Purpose

What is your topic? What are you trying to accomplish and who do you want to reach?  Do you want inbound links?  More subscribers?  Improved brand perception?  Always settle on only one primary purpose and 2-3 secondary ones. Now you can firm these into measurable goals such as to attract more links to your company blog within a couple of months.

Audience

What do you know about the people who you are trying to reach?  This really goes well beyond the age, income bracket and education level.  What really interests them?  What are their passions? Where do they spend their time discussing, reading and learning?

Where

Start by being the detective.  Try to track down where the conversations are happening.  Are they on forums?  Blogs? Are discussions about your topics happening on popular social networks?  Are their answers being sought on LinkedIn Answers or YouTube?  Once you know this, you will know where to start your social media marketing campaign.

Participate

Don’t just sit and wait.  Join the dialogue and become part of the community.  The amount of influence you contribute will be based on how actively you are in the conversations and contribute to the discussions.  Leave comments on forums and blogs, Tweet on Twitter and be active on social networks such as Facebook.  You can also setup your own dedicated pages, YouTube channels and blogs.

Monitor

What is being said about you? Set up your own monitoring and listening system.  You can use Google Alerts or some of the other paid monitoring tools available on the web to track Tweets, social media mentions, brand mentions or even blog conversations. If your goals are focused around Search Engine Optimization, measure and monitor rankings and links.  What you monitor and measure will be based on your purpose and goals.  Measure your progress towards your goals.