What is a Social Media Plan, Anyway?
January 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
Everyone talks about social media plans. But do you really know what it takes to create one? A social media plan, whether it is for personal use or for your business, isn’t just one set of rules, but many different guidelines. Here are step-by-step guidelines that can help you with your plan:
1. Start listening.
It’s important to know what people are already saying about your brand. By using specific key words you can set up a dashboard with feed readers, creating an easy to understand display of what people are saying about your brand. Try Netvibes for your dashboard, it’s the platform I prefer. Also, set up Google Alerts for your brand so you know whenever anyone says something new and relevant that will show up on Google. The key is to know what communities you want to be involved in, before you throw yourself into the vast world of social media.
2. Determine your goal.
Know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to increase sales, increase brand awareness or gain more traffic to your site? Know your goal before you start, that way you’ll know what you need to be tracking when it comes to the measurement portion of your plan.
3. Know who you are and who is best suited to show that in your company.
Outspoken Media has some great thoughts on knowing who you are. Generally, it’s having the ability to tell a story about yourself or about your brand that is going to make other people want to interact with you online. On that note: DO NOT LIE! Being transparent is extremely important, because if you’re not it only takes about 4 seconds to do a Google search and find out the truth.
Knowing who you are means knowing who your customers are, too. Figure out who your target audience is. Knowing the demographics and psychographics of your audience will help you with step 4 when you choose which channels to use.
After determining who you are, make sure the person you’ve chosen to implement the social media plan reflects the image you would like to maintain online. You also need to make sure you have the time and the necessary resources, because if you stop a few months into it, you’ve wasted not only time, but money that could have been better spent on another marketing plan.
4. Decide what channels to use.
Not every social networking site is going to fit your goal. It’s important to choose the sites that will. Although it would make sense to use facebook if your goal is customer communication or brand exposure, it wouldn’t make sense to use it if your goal is SEO. Take a look at this chart from Drew’s Marketing Minute it will help you decide what sites work best for your goal.
5. Create rules.
You need rules for engaging with people online. What are you going to do when someone says you’re doing something great? And what are you going to do when someone tells you that your brand sucks? Make sure your rules leave room for flexibility but create a solid guideline for how to react in both good and bad situations.
6. Creating and Scheduling Content.
Now you’re ready to start creating content. Know how often you want to be pushing information out, making sure you don’t flood your fans and followers news feed. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to schedule all of your posts. Try Hootesuite or Tweetdeck, they’re both easy to use and free. Watch your noise to signal ratio as well. People don’t really care about what you’re eating for lunch as much as they care about the big sale over the weekend. Remember, quality over quantity.
7. Engage, be genuine and be transparent.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Be transparent and be genuine. No one wants to talk to a robot and no one wants to talk to a liar. Engage with people online. Decide what you’re going to do to encourage participation. You don’t want to be talking at people online, you want to talk with them.
8. Measure, analyze and rework your plan.
Are you accomplishing your goal? If your goal was to increase sales, have you? If your goal was to get more traffic on your site, what does Google Analytics say? Do you have more traffic then you did before you started your social media plan? If something isn’t working take time to rework and rethink. If your plan is working but you’re running out of money to fund it, analyze your overall marketing plan and consider cutting your losses; maybe you can get rid of something else and focus on social media.
Don’t expect results right away. A social media plan can take anywhere from two to six months, and sometimes longer, before you really start to see results. And if it didn’t work for you, figure out if it’s worth it. If your brand was doing better with traditional forms of marketing, then it’s probably a good idea to stick to what works for your brand.