"Social Media" is not a Marketing Plan

socialmediaOver the past few years, I’ve gone through a multitude of pitch decks and business summaries.  Some are interesting, some are thought-provoking, and some are hilarious.  My favorite section tends to be the “Use of Funds”/Pro-Forma statements—they sometimes include things like “New designer wardrobe for CEO” and “Leased Porsche” because it’s important for the CEO to present well.  That’s also where I see the death-knell of cash flow statements: “miscellaneous expenses.”

The other thing that irks me is when the pitch deck summarizes the company’s entire marketing plan as a single bullet point. Invariably, it’s just “Social Media.”

I hate to say it, because it will weigh heavily on many new entrepreneurs, but “Social Media” is not a marketing plan. It’s definitely a valid tactic, but for most businesses, it can’t be the only part of your marketing strategy. It’s a great tactic, and when applied correctly, is an effective part of your plan.

First, in the current online world, there are dozens of disparate things that qualify as “Social Media,” so break it down into where you’ll focus your efforts.  Will you be putting more effort into Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or Pinterest?  Those are all very different markets, so you need to be specific.  If you’ve defined your specific target market—and I do mean specific—you should be able to select one or two primary social media outlets.  If you’re a B2B company, Linked In should get your focus. If you’re target market is 30-40 year-old women interested in cooking, then Pinterest is probably your best bet.  You should know the specific benefits of each of the social networks, and determine which ones get your focus.  If you pick more than one network, you’ll need a strategy for each one.

If your marketing plan depends a lot on the social media aspect, you’ll need to describe some specifics for your strategy. How will you acquire new followers or new connections?  How will you produce the new content for your “feed?”  This isn’t a minor thing. Consistently generating new and interesting content is the key to successful social media marketing. If you just post the same sales pitch repeatedly, you’ll never get new followers, and your existing followers will kick you off their list. Nobody wants to see the same commercials over and over.  Will you have special local events, and if so, how will you promote them?  Will you offer local deals?  How will you run promotions and sales/discounts? These are the details that you must consider.  If you get in front of a possible investor and can’t answer these easy questions, you won’t get far.

Showing that you understand the complexity and difficulty of social media marketing can really help you—especially compared to all the presenters that haven’t considered the possibilities.  Know the details of your marketing plan and strategy, and try to get that across in your summary and pitch deck. If your pitch deck’s “Market/Sales” slide just says Social Media, you should delete it and make a slide that contains at least the following:  Market Size, Initial Target Market (specifically!), a summary of the strategy, and your estimated customer acquisition cost.


Steve Cook