So you are, let’s say, a small business owner and with all the new social media buzz circling around, you decide it’s about time you implement a social media plan. It can be hard, as a small business without the budget to bring in the social media experts, to figure out the do’s and don’ts of setting a plan in place. What social networks should you tap into? What tactics should you explore? What should you avoid? All these questions need answers before you can plan and execute a successful social media campaign. If it were as easy as making a Facebook page and Tweeting, then anyone could do it.
I’m going to break it down into 10 tid bits of advice to take into consideration when tackling your first social media plan.
1. STRATEGY: Define your objectives & establish your goals: Every good plan starts off with a strategy. Write out a clear purpose for your social media plan and clearly articulate your purpose and vision.
2. TEAM: Even if you’re a small, local business, you cant possible manage an entire social media plan by yourself. Delegate a few other people to help manage your plan. Identify who does what, clearly, so nothing in the upkeep of your social media presence goes over looked. Social media isn’t something you can learn over night so invest in the proper resources for additional training on the subject. Attend workshops and conferences, listen to podcasts (so helpful) read blogs by the pros.
3. LISTEN! If you are going to have a social media plan you NEED to know how to listen to your audience. Where are your customers? How are they engaging with each other and brands online? How do they want to be involved with brands? Your first instinct may lead you to an answer like “Well, they are obviously all on Facebook.” WRONG. Take the time to do your research.
4. FOCUS: If your social media plan stretches across 10 different social media platforms, chances are you are going to have a very touch time keeping track of everything. Once you figure out where your audience is, concentrate on creating a strong presence there. Prioritize what areas of social media are most important to your brand and focus on those. A strong social media plan isn’t necessarily one that integrates every single platform from Facebook to Flickr…its one that picks a few platforms and excels at utilizing them.
5. THEME: If your social media plan is going to tap into, for example, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, then make sure the 3 relate to each other in some way. The worst social plans are the ones that are so jumbled and busy that they forget to carry a common theme centered around the brand’s message. WWE did an excellent job of this with their “Stand Up For W” campaign. Everything their audience could, from uploading videos on Youtube voicing your support, to making “I’m Standing Up for WWE” their Facebook status, tied in together in supporting their “Support for WWE” theme. Create a story and create a voice for your brand.
6. COMMUNICATION: I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, but communication is key! Once you have your social media plan up and running, you MUST establish a relationship with your followers. This is like the follow up step to Listening. Once you know where your audience is and what they want, start to involve them in your brand. Let them know you are listening to them by tweeting back or following up to their comments or suggestions on facebook.
7. LINK: Make sure to link everything together. A person browsing your Facebook page should also be able to get to your Twitter, YouTube channel, Linkedln, Website etc…Consider creating a landing page. Here’s a great article on Copyblogger article outlining the basics of a landing page.
8. SEO OPTIMIZATION: Make sure your website is optimized for online and mobile browsing. Make sure each page has a share button (Facebook Like, Twitter tweet this, Digg etc) and make sure each page is optimized with the right tags and met tags. Optimize your site with keywords (Google Keywords is a great tool to help with this). Make sure the links to your social media profiles are clearly displayed. YOU need to be in control of your own online presence. Get informed! Check out the Google Webmaster Blog for some great SEO tips.
9. METRICS: Define the metrics you will use to measure your social media success. You need to have a way to measure your plan’s success and failures so you can adjust accordingly. You can use Google Alerts to monitor search terms. Use site analytics to measure where your traffic is coming from and Klout is great for monitoring your Twitter influence.
10. GO FOR IT!!! Social media takes work, attention, patience, and the willingness to put the time and resources into your plan to achieve success. Once you have your plan defined and your platforms up and running, a social media plan can prove to be extremely beneficial.