Small Business Owners: Six Key Things to Consider When Creating Your 2016 Social Media Marketing Plan

We're wrapping up one heck of a year. How did your business grow this year and what role did social media play in your business' accomplishments?

As you head into a new year, I hope you'll take some time to reflect on your marketing efforts in order to shape a concrete and thoughtful plan for 2016. Maybe you'll consider adopting a new tool or map out a content curation schedule for Q1. Whatever your motivation, here are six things you should consider when solidifying your social media strategy for the coming year.

1. Start with your accomplishments.

As it relates to your social media efforts, what initiatives did you test drive or complete? Maybe you created a Facebook or Twitter page for your business or built a weekly posting schedule to better organize your content. Maybe you learned about the best times to post on Facebook and improved your posts' average Likes and Shares. Regardless, identify what has worked well and give yourself some credit! Chances are, you are in a better place now with social media than you were exactly one year ago today. You should feel good about that!

2. Look at your existing presence with a critical eye. 

Take some time to look at where your business currently exists online and the content you're posting. Is your ideal customer hanging out on the online channels where your business exists? If not, where are they hanging out? Too, maybe you could improve how frequently you post on your social media platforms or get more creative with the type of articles you push out to your audience. Make some small changes to your existing presence that will prove to be monumental shifts in your social marketing initiatives.

3. Ask your ideal customer what they want from you.

One of the best ways to provide value to your customers is by learning about what they want from you that they aren't currently getting. Tools such as poll-maker.com, Polldaddy and Facebook's Poll app make it easy for your customers to give their opinions. Too, ask your Facebook or LinkedIn audience what types of content they want to see more of. Once you collect their answers, give it to them! They'll appreciate that you asked and then delivered.

4. Identify how much time you can commit.

Calculating how much time you can devote per day, per week, and per month to improving your business' social media presence is one the smartest things you can do. Many of my clients stretch themselves too thin which quickly proves to be unproductive. Can you spend more, less or about the same amount of time in 2016? If you can't spend more time, figure out how you can clear up or automate some of your social media tasks such as hiring an intern or adopting a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite, Bufferapp or SproutSocial. If you can allot more time, play around with where you can experiment (see next).

5. Determine if and where you can experiment.

Pay attention to new tools or programs you've wanted to try or heard about from others. Visual, video and live broadcasting platforms (such as Instagram ((currently the fastest growing social network)) Buffer's Pablo, Vine, Periscope and Babble) continue to be one of the best ways small business owners can generate quality content fast and consistently. If you're not sure where to explore or invest your time, ask an expert (plug alert: like UntapSocial!) to guide you.

6. Ask yourself how you want to grow professionally. 

Tony Robbins recently shared in an interview with LinkedIn executive editor Daniel Roth how important it is for us to keep growing. "Work harder on yourself than you ever do on your job or your business. If you can become more valuable, you will produce an amazing result." So, whether your adopt a new skill set such as learning HTML to better your website or embrace your fear of public speaking to make your blogs more interactive, get out there and learn something new. To quote Tony, "If you grow, you have something to give."

Now is a wonderful time of the year to reflect on how you've leveraged certain online channels to improve your business' brand thus far. Keeping up with social media's undeniably fast and uncomfortable pace may be tricky, but it will continue to demand your attention. You have a huge opportunity to learn a valuable skill set and engage with your customers in a way that is more authentic and very powerful.

So, what social media initiatives will you say you accomplished in December of 2016?

Write your answer in the comments section below so that it can be a reminder for you throughout this next year.