Everyone needs a plan if they are to use social media successfully to grow their business.
I believe it’s so important it is one of the services I offer if you are after an individual strategy tailored specifically for your business.
While every social media plan should vary greatly and be very individualized to your particular business, there are a few areas that all businesses should consider when developing their plan.
But first I want to talk about why a social media plan is important.
Having a plan of attack with anything is always a good idea as it focuses your efforts and keeps you on track when you take detours – and trust me when I say that social media is full of detours.
It also allows you to write down your goals and gives you a road map to achieving them.
And social media is no different.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the various topics you should include in your plan.
Goals / Objectives
This is A MUST! You need to know why you are using social media and what you want to achieve out of it. A great place to start is to ask yourself the 5 questions you need to ask yourself about social media.
Create a place for ideas. Keep track of ideas you have and try and brainstorm often. This is especially good if you have a small team, as many heads are better than one.
You should also know who you are writing for. One way to do this is to create personas of your ideal customers. But when you do this, be really specific, and choose 1-3 customer types only.
By being specific, I mean don’t simply write “male, 40, businessman, mortgage, wife, 2 kids.” You want to give him a name, a picture (Google until you find an appropriate one) and give a really detailed description:
John, 40 years old, bachelor’s degree in business. Works as a Contract Specialist for a company he does’t particularly like, and is in the process of looking for something more challenging. He is happily married but worries about changing careers as he is the main supporter of two children – still in primary school. Has a few close friends and enjoys his beer and whiskey. He drives a Toyota, but wants to drive a BMW. He mostly goes out to dinner with his wife and friends.
This way you get a better feeling for who you are writing for and you can start thinking about your posts being emails to this one person. This will have the added benefit of focusing your content and you will sound much more natural.
You really need to decide what social networking sites you want to include. Are you going to use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (or any of these), are you going to be creating a blog, are there other smaller niche networks that will be better?
When getting started I usually recommend to people to start with one social networking site, get that running nicely, and then tackle another. Otherwise you can be overwhelmed.
What content are you going to have? Blog posts, podcasts, video, slideshow presentations, off-line activities like seminars? All of the above? What are you going to be posting on Facebook to engage with your Fans? Get at least an idea on the type of content you want to create and/or share.
Create a content calendar as this will help you figure out what you can post and when. Include holidays and special days that relate to your business on it. If you sell candy, for example, Halloween would be a special time for you. Work out what you are going to be doing ahead of time – even 12 months out.
Decide who is going to be posting content and who will respond to people’s comments and replies. This needs to be decided early on and roles given out. If you don’t do this then you run the risk of the “I thought you were going to do that” issue, and nothing gets done.
This is especially important if you are running multiple platforms and a blog. Remember, blog content can take a long time to create.
Social Media Guidelines
This is important even if you are a one-person band as it allows you to define what is okay and what is not when posting material and interacting with the public.
Reporting & Analysis
Use the reporting you have access to to see what is working and what isn’t. Use Excel or Google Spreadsheets to keep track of what people are responding too and measures of growth over time. You can also use some third-party apps and software to keep track of stuff for you too.
These are all good categories to keep in mind when drafting your social media plan, but if you want a more detailed and individualized plan for your business then please see how we can work together to grow your business.
Image credit: JD Hancock