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‘That wasn’t my intention!’ Have you ever said that? I know that I have. Knowing your intention before speaking doesn’t necessarily mean that your point gets across the way that it was intended, but it still helps to know your intention beforehand.

The same theory applies to social media marketing. Knowing what your intentions are before jumping in is a great way to make a first and lasting good impression! There is a very simple formula to get you started in realizing what your social media intentions are and it’s something that you probably are already familiar with.

Who, What, Where, When, How and Why

Do these look familiar? They should. These six words are the basics to building and organizing any type of written or spoken content. These words can also help you to develop a clear intention on how you want to use social media to market yourself, your business and/or your products. So let’s get started!

Why?

Let’s start here. Why are you using social media? Is it to save money in marketing, to reach new, potential clients, to reconnect with your existing ones? Maybe it’s to raise brand awareness or to stay on top of what your competitors are doing and what others are saying about you and your business. You may have tons of reasons why you want to market using social media, but make sure you know what they are before moving ahead. This is what sets the groundwork of your intention.

Who?

Who do you want to connect with on social media? Are they male or female? Do they have kids, a college education and what are their interests? Are they people that can be brand ambassadors for you and speak highly of you and your products? You should also consider people that you admire and look up to. Social media levels the playing field and often time makes it very easy to reach and interact with people you may not normally have a chance to connect with. Make a list of the various demographic and social details of your social media audience. Think details! Even down to the time of day you assume they will be on social media so you have a better chance of reaching them.

Where?

This one is a biggie! Just like clothes, not every social media site fits or looks good on everyone. One of the first steps to deciding where you are going to market online is to evaluate and discover where your target market is hiding. So do some research! Use tools like Quantcast or Alexa to find out the demographics for sites that you are considering. This is especially important when you are looking for sites where people that have a particular interest may hang out. For instance, if you market to moms, you may want to consider joining Café Mom or MomslikeMe and start interacting with other moms. But don’t forget the big dogs of social media (in my honest opinion): Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube! And keep an eye out for when Google+ opens up to businesses, in the meantime set up a personal account to get a feel for it.

What?

Then think of fun ways to market that growing need through social media. Post happy client testimonials, common questions that may arise, share quotes and articles from people that you admire. The possibilities are endless on what to post. If you need inspiration, take a look on social media sites to see what others are doing. Sometimes taking a look at what other people are posting can spark the social media creative in you that you never knew you had!

When?

There are two ways to consider when to post. One is when people are most online and two is when it’s convenient for you. I’m going to focus more on when is the best time to reach people and talk about the second part in the ‘how’ section. There is a lot of information and recommendations as to when the ‘best time to post’ is. But from most of my research the following is a good guideline:

  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the days that people are most on the social networks and Saturday is by far the worst.
  • 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. are the best times to post. But don’t forget about time zones! So make sure you are staggering your posts to reach people in various places.
  • Facebook always sees a spike at 3:00 p.m. so keep this time in mind for Facebook marketing.

How?

How are you going to get all of this done? Well, like everything in your life, it’s best to set a schedule and find the right tools. Personally, I manage all of my and my client’s social media sites using Hootsuite. I try to dedicate 45 min. a day to my personal social media needs. 15 minutes in the morning to post, interact and respond to what’s going on in my own social media world and the same in the afternoon around lunchtime and at night before I go to bed. Hootsuite also has the ability to schedule tweets and status updates so I use this feature to schedule questions and thoughts to go out through out the week. But you need to make sure that you follow up on the things that you schedule, people do not like responding to what others put out just to be ignored!

Knowing what your intentions are with social media before jumping in is a great way to make a first and lasting good impression!