If you don’t spend a little time making a social media plan, you will more than likely end up attacking it from all angles and your success may be limited, which will only make you feel like the whole thing was a waste of time. If you really hate writing plans, you don’t need to worry too much because your plan really only needs to be a simple one-pager. You just need some clear direction so that you know where you are headed and can track your successes. As Jack Welch once said, ‘A strategic plan is simply picking a general direction and implementing it like hell.’ So true, and my kind of guy.
How do I go about making my one-page plan?
First you need to ask yourself what you want to achieve from using social media in three, six and 12 months. It could be:
- a larger prospect base to talk to
- a certain number of connections and followers
- a monetary amount
- a reputation for being an expert in your field
- a certain number of visitors to your website.
Then ask yourself three questions:
- What is my purpose in using social media?
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- What is my desired outcome?
The ‘purpose’ aspect could be very simple, such as:
- You don’t want your competitors gaining the edge because they are already using social media.
- You realise it is another way of communicating with your prospects.
- You want to grow your business network of connections.
The ‘achieve’ aspect could be:
- You want to attract more customers.
- You want to listen to what is being said.
- You want to gain more brand exposure.
The ‘outcome’ aspect could be:
- You have created and engaged a tribe of fans who have become cheerleaders for your business.
- You have a listening post set up.
- You have a greater network of business connections.
You set the figure for the goal.
Social media moves and changes so fast that it would be difficult to plan much further ahead than 12 months, but it is important that you have the milestones along the way at three and six months, just to check how you are tracking against your goals and to see if you need to make any adjustments. You may also find that your goals have changed slightly, so this also needs to be taken into account.
Who is my target market?
Follow the SWOT analysis by asking three more questions about
who you want to communicate with:
- Who is your target market?
- What are the characteristics of the market?
- What is their biggest problem, need or desire?
If you know your business well enough, these should be easy enough to answer.
Beware here: what you think is your target market may in fact not be at all, so I suggest you take a look at the characteristics of your current clients and jot down some notes. Which ones on the client list:
- pay your invoices on time
- are no bother for your team to deal with
- buy from you repeatedly (if applicable)
- give you referrals
- love your product or service
- have the potential for growth?
With those characteristics in mind, what do they all have in common to become your target market? Is it turnover, location, industry or something else? But are they your most profitable clients?
Have a quick look at the clients who:
- pay your invoices late
- take up too much of your time
- squeeze you dry of margin
- whine and gripe at your team.
You may not want too many of those clients. In fact, you may want to drop a few of those if you have them! Likewise, if your clients are in a dying market such as video rental stores, there is no potential for growth for them and so your client base may also be diminishing. Once you have answered these three simple questions, you are ready to move on to the next part of making your plan, and that is deciding who will run your campaign and where the resources will come from.
Forming the social media team
A common mistake is for a company to see who has a bit of bandwidth, or who is under less pressure than the rest of the team, and is therefore presumed to have the time to set up your social media sites. That can very often be the receptionist. Now although your receptionist may be fantastic at his job, he may not necessarily be a marketer or customer service manager, so who should be working on your social media sites? I asked a couple of companies how they decided who should be on the social media team. One company said, ‘The people need to be online already and understand how it all works, they need to be on brand, so they live and breathe our business, and lastly they need to be on resource.
The latter refers to a good knowledge about where they can find great content in our market that is useful to share out again.’ Another company said, ‘We simply sent an invitation out to the whole company to see who wanted to be involved in the first place, who are our knowledgeable team players that know and understand our business and the online space? From there, we made our selection.’ Both of these ideas are great ways to find the correct person or
persons for your social media plan, but if you are a very small company, it may just be you in the first place. Don’t despair that you are already trying to balance more plates in the air than you would care to admit; if you stick to your plan, you won’t go far wrong and your efforts will be rewarded.
Get a media team in place
Don’t feel that you have to do it all yourself, and certainly don’t simply get the most junior team member to do it as she spends so much time on Facebook. Ask your staff who would like to be involved, create a small team and call them the ‘media team’. If you don’t have such a team, consider who else from outside your business might want to be involved. As long as you or a designated person has the final say, knows exactly what is going on and is accountable, you should be fine.
Get a content plan
Content, or what information you choose to share from around the web or your own work, is what will make your efforts succeed: no-one wants to read uninteresting articles. Brainstorm with your colleagues and anyone else you wish to get involved, and make a list of the useful websites that always have great content on your chosen topic. You can add those sites to your content plan template later. Those sites may not even be local to you but on the other side of the world — that doesn’t matter.
If you have a bridal business and your chosen resource sites are in New York, who cares? You are adding value back to your followers, fans and connections with your expertise and knowledge about what is happening on a larger scale, or, in the case of fashion, what trends are developing.
When you have found the best resource sites, subscribe to their databases so that the best and most interesting articles come straight to your inbox for you to read and action. That way you don’t need to revisit their sites each day to see if there is anything new.
Keep a list of the resources you are going to be using so that regardless of who is looking after your social media, anyone in the team can update it should the need arise. It also means you just don’t have too much to think about each day, as you know where your content is coming from. Don’t make it all links back to other people’s sites; you want to balance it out with great information from your own team including photos, video clips and stories.
Set up content themes
Depending on what your business is, you might want to theme your content to match your overall marketing plan. This is easy if you are, for example, a florist or gift shop: make a list of all of the events that happen throughout the year and theme your content accordingly.
On Valentine’s Day, the florist could have not only matching flowers, but also short articles on the history of St Valentine’s, as well as images. A great discussion topic for LinkedIn could be ‘What are you doing for your partner this Valentine’s’ — a question designed to get others networking and nothing else. For a health professional, it may be ‘spine awareness week’, so focus on that. Ask questions on LinkedIn about posture and how people deal with back pain. If you are a mechanic, you might want to talk about the importance of good brakes during the winter months on your Facebook page and Twitter.
There are other areas that are on the content plan such as:
- off-topic questions
- useful videos
- article ideas.