7 Tips for Creating a SocialMedia Plan for YourBusinessSection II
Why Businesses Fail WithSocial Media Businesses often fail in their social media efforts for the same reason New Year’s resolutions fail: It’s a good idea, but there’s no structure or commitment. Then, when there are no immediate results, or the goal ends up being more difficult to attain than previously thought, it goes by the wayside. Has this happened to your business’s social media presence? You aren’t alone. Very few people can simply choose to be active in social media and stick with it. For the rest of us, we need something to keep us honest. That’s why I advocate youcreate a social media plan—a checklist, if you will— complete with daily maintenance, recurring tasks and milestone projects. These seven tips will help you design a social media plan that will keep you on track, active and moving forward.
#1: Make a Commitment Before you even start creating your plan, you have to make a promise. Establishing a healthy social media presence can be a very slow process. You can’t expect your list of fans, followers or subscribers to grow overnight. You don’t want to start your business’s presence out by posting and updating consistently, only to get bored, lose interest and forget to log in when there’s no immediate gratification. To prevent that kind of slide, make a commitment. Even if it’s just to yourself—even if you have to frame it and hang it above your computer. No matter how silly an exercise it may seem, acknowledging and agreeing with yourself that building this presence could take upwards of a year (and then some), and then promising to invest time, energy and resources into it no matter what, will keep you committed and prepare you to be active and engaged even when you feel like your presence is stagnating.
#2: Find Your Best FitIf you’re just getting your business’s social media efforts up and running,part of creating your plan revolves around seeing if you already have afanbase out there.So do some searching. Are there lots of people posting videos toYouTube of themselves using your product? Does your company have abunch of mentions on Twitter? Do you have reviews on Yelp?Although it’s important to establish a presence on a giant like Facebook,make sure you also set up shop where you’re already visible.
#3: Schedule EngagementNow that you’ve identified the social mediaplatforms you’re going to focus on, it’s time toturn your attention to the ways and frequencywith which you’ll engage with your users.Infrequent interaction is one of the mainreasons businesses experience social mediafailure.Those who are most successful in social mediaknow that you have to engage steadily.Think of creating and responding to comments,tweets, posts, etc., as simple dailymaintenance. It must be done. You needto start the conversation with your users,and anytime they reach out to you, you needto be prepared to respond.Remember that the timetable for creating andresponding to content is platform-specific.Twitter moves so fast that tweets can becomeirrelevant within the hour, whereas Facebookstatus updates and posts have a few hours ofstaying power, and videos are great because oftheir longevity.
#4: Create Expert ContentYour fans and followers don’t want commercials, they want conversation. They don’t want to hear howgreat your company is, they already like or follow you. They don’t want sales numbers, they wantindustry news and thought leadership.A good rule of thumb is to talk about your customers and your industry 80% to 90% of the time, and thendiscuss your own business. That means you need to start a blog, write white papers, explore trends,release case studies and create infographics.Post frequently and do it consistently. Your ideal goal should be some kind of content every couple ofdays or so. Avoid going longer than a week without posting.Thorough, in-depth articles and papers will position your business as an industry expert andthought leader, and keep your fans and followers (and even competitors) looking to you.
#5: RunContests andPromotionsContests and promotions keep fans andfollowers excited, interested and comingback. Most importantly, they’re a covertway to get your business or brand infront of more people. That doesn’tmean you need to run one all the time.If you’ve always got some kind ofgiveaway going, they’ll soon becomemore social background noise. This isespecially true if you’re giving away not-so-great prizes.Run a contest or promotion everycouple of months, and make sure theprize is something to get excited about.
#6: Broaden Your HorizonsEvery social media plan needs to start out the same way, with a commitment to the long hauland a focus on the basics like interaction and content. But once your presence is establishedand your users are engaged, you’re free to open things up to experimentation.If you’ve built a solid fan following on Facebook, create and install some custom apps onyour page, start posting videos on YouTube or interact more frequentlyby hopping onTwitter. Try things out for a few months, and then go back and see how they’veperformed for you.Not every platform will be a fit, so if your business isn’t performing well on one for anextended period of time, don’t be afraid to pull the plug and explore different options.
#7: Delegate TasksIf you’re at the point where you’re lookingat expanding to new platforms,congratulations! You’ve likely got ahealthy presence. But don’t let all of thisgrowth overwhelm you. The larger yougrow, the more in danger you are of failingto engage (point #3), because—let’s faceit—social media is a lot of work.So look into adding some more teammembers. Graphic artists for yourinfographics, writers for your blogs andwhite papers and even some interns tomanage the day-to-day social mediaconversations and information-gathering.A talented team can give you a richer,more robust presence than you couldever achieve on your own.
10 Simple Steps toSocial Media SuccessSection III
1. Identify Your TARGETS. These should relate to your key business objectives. Be as specific and quantitative as possible (e.g. ―100 new engaged Twitter followers a week,‖ ―$5,000/month in new online sales,‖ etc.)
2. Emotionalize Your BRAND. This is what makes your business venture so special/unique/worthy of advocacy. It should be a few sentences and should resonate with your target demographics, so that they are inspired to share it with others. Remember, hit people with your features and benefits, and you win their minds. Infuse them with your cause or your mission, and you win their hearts.
3. Identify Your AUDIENCE. Be as specific as possible relative to psychographics and demographics. Spend some time listening to what people are saying about you online. The simplest way to do this is to Google your company or use the native platforms on social media like search.twttier.com or the search features on Facebook, LinkedIN and YouTube.
4. Optimize YourWEBSITE/BLOG. Your website is your primary destination for consumer call to action. It should be simply and elegantly designed around the one thing you want your visitors to do. Make sure you’ve installed Google Analytics tracking code to your website (visit: www.google.com/analytics [http:// www.google.com/analytics] for more information), and study your visitor behavior. Then, start making improvements to your site around what you’re seeing in the data.
5. Establish Your SOCIALOUTPOSTS. Set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIN. Once you’ve done that, download Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) and you can monitor yourbrand, listen to relevant conversations, engage your communities and update your social platforms all from one simple dashboard.
6. Engage EMAIL MARKETING. There are hundreds of millions of people who don’t like social media, but almost everyone uses email. Email marketing ranks high in terms of conversion. Con- stant Contact and VerticalResponse are two excellent services that can get you up and running in no time. Make sure to integrate your social media with your email marketing and invite people to the party, e.g.: ―Engage with us on Twitter for real-time customer service.‖ ―Get exclusive deals on our Facebook page.‖
7. Establish a TRADITIONALMEDIA PLAN. If you play your cards right, the mainstream media will cover your story. Create something buzzworthy about your business. Do something crea- tive and unique. Then reach out to local newspapers, television and radio and tell them why their viewers would love to learn about your business. (Not why you deserve to be on TV, but why their viewers would love the story. Big difference.)
8. Start a SEO PROGRAM. You want to optimize your website and blog content for your desired keywords, so that when people type in: ―best darn left-handed scissors‖ into Google, Bing and Yahoo, your left- handed scissor website shows up. Spend some time learning more about ―Search Engine Optimization.‖ Now, I don’t think you’re a dummy (heck, you bought this book; you’re brilliant!), but an excellent resource for SEO is: Search Engine Optimization For Dummies (For Dummies, 2010).
9. Measure Your RESULTS. Google Analytics is an industry-leading analytics program and it is easy to sign up and install into your website and blog.
10. Continually HONE ANDREFINE Your Campaigns. The best results come from letting the data drive decisions. If a certain platform is generating results, channel time and resources to that platform.