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Stop Flying Blind: Your 2013 Social Media Planning Guide

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This comprehensive article outlines how to build a comprehensive social media strategy for your social networks.

This comprehensive article outlines how to build a comprehensive social media strategy for your social networks.

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  • 1. so cialf re sh.co m http://so cialfresh.co m/2013-so cial-media-planning-guide-ho w-to -harness-the-po wer-o f-so cial-in-2013/Social FreshStop Flying Blind, 2013 Social Media Planning Spreadsheetby Lisa Peyton on Jan 03, 2013Share:Social media is big. It is unwieldy. And it grows thicker andmore complicated with each day.Fear not.With some simple planning, self -ref lection and research,you can harness the ‘beast’ that has become social media.Whether you are totally new to technology and the onlinespace or are an industry veteran, around since itsinception, the f ollowing plan will help you build a solid f oundation f or social media success.T his methodology can be applied to managing personal social media prof iles and provide a basic f oundationf or a solid business social media strategy.I have created a Social Media Planning Spreadsheet that outlines MY plan and can serve as the perf ecttemplate f or yours.It’s time to OWN your social media in 2013!Phase 1: Planning and Research
  • 2. T he f irst and most important step is asking yourself what you T RULY want to accomplish by creating andupdating social media prof iles.If af ter some thoughtf ul self -ref lection you realize you AREN’T looking f or a new job, a better career path,more clients, more contacts, more inf luence, maintaining connections with f riends and f amily AND want tolive entirely ‘of f the grid’, then perhaps social media is NOT your ‘thang’. IF you DO want any of theseoutcomes then it’s time to determine which are the most important and WHY.Goals and Object ivesMany of us have rushed into creating a social media prof ile bef ore actually asking the question ‘why?’ T hismay have lef t you f umbling to create constant updates with no real sense of purpose which is a waste oftime and can lead to f eelings of resentment and even anger. It’s time to go back to the drawing board andtake a look at your overall objective.Your overall objective should be f airly broad and have a DIRECT impact on something VERY important toYOU. It can be an overall business objective, an overall personal objective or both. Your objective shouldalso be measurable and time sensitive. T his will ensure you have the means to measure your social mediasuccess and hold yourself accountable f or meeting your goals.Last year, I had one very simple objective f or my social media activities. I wanted to provide consistent andvaluable updates to my network of social media and digital marketing prof essionals, thereby organicallygrowing my business network by a certain percentage over the twelve month time span. T his year, I want totake my strategy to the next level and incorporate a plan f or my personal contacts as well.AudienceWhen diving into your overall objective, it’s essential you explore who you are trying to reach. If yourapproach is strictly business, then your overall objective is likely tied to revenue or compensation. T hisdoesn’t mean that your social media strategy should be directly tied to revenue, but it does help todetermine a target f or your ef f orts. You’ll likely want to reach and engage with potential customers,employers or f olks that INFLUENCE these groups.A more personal approach may include audience segments such as f riends f rom the gym, distant f amilymembers, co-workers, drinking buddies, etc. Each of these segments has very specif ic needs and
  • 3. expectations regarding your involvement on social media. So ask yourself if connecting with these groupswill help you meet your overall objectives.Tools like Vizify.com allow you to get a glimpse into the demographics of your current social media followers.ResearchBef ore f inalizing your objectives and audience segments, go out and gather some data to help drive yourplanning. If you are currently maintaining several social media prof iles, take the time to determine WHO isalready a f ollower, f an or ‘liker’. Tools like Vizif y.com’s Tweetsheet can show you stunning stats about yourTwitter f ollowers and help you learn about the demographics of your current online community.For more qualitative data, I recommend surveying your current f ollowers and f ans. By conducting a briefsurvey of your current community, you can determine if they can be segmented, what inf ormation they f indvaluable and if engaging with them will help meet your overall objectives. If you are just getting started anddon’t have an ‘online’ community, start by surveying those you know in the real world.Tools like SurveyMonkey.com make creating an online survey easy and cost-f ree. If you’re looking atconducting a more robust survey, I highly recommend reading Hubpspot’s guide to using surveys in yourmarketing. T he insight you can gain f rom a survey of your colleagues, f riends and f amily is invaluable athelping to determine your target audience segments and if you are currently meeting their needs. If you don’thave time to conduct a f ull-blown survey, simply start asking f or direct f eedback on your current social mediaef f orts or lack thereof .Self Discovery, Google-st yle
  • 4. Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool allows you to get organic search results without personalizing thembased upon your browsing behavior.T he ONE thing I ALWAYS do bef ore meeting with potential clients is ‘Google’ their name, the name of theirbusiness and take a look at their online prof iles. Take the time to Google variations of YOUR name and thename of your business or company.Scan the top several pages of results and determine IF you are visible and if so, do the results speak to howyour want to be represented to your target audience. Due to Google’s ability to personalize your searchresults, I would recommend using a tool like the Google Ad Preview tool.T his tool will display organic search results without personalizing them based upon your prior browsingbehavior.Whether you like it or not, there are likely social media prof iles f loating around the web that houseinf ormation about YOU!Klout.com scrapes sites such as Twitter and will assign a ‘Klout score’ to users that haven’t even signed upf or an account. How about that LinkedIn account you created years ago and haven’t looked at since, it’s only15% complete. Or that Twitter account you created and abandoned in 2010?T he point is that Google can and will FIND any assets that house your name and display them f or allsearchers to see.Bef ore embracing your new social media plan, it’s essential you audit the current state of your onlinevisibility and build f ixing any hiccups into your planning.Phase II – Building your roadmap
  • 5. After completing your research and determining your objectives, it’s time to choose your channels.Now that you have taken the time to determine your objectives, target audience and current state of youronline prof iles, it’s time f or the f un stuf f !Channel Select ionT here are thousands of social media networks and platf orms and it’s impossible to participate in them all.Even building communities around a handf ul of networks can be a f ull-time job. Bef ore selecting which socialmedia channels you want to participate in, determine how much time you can commit to your social mediaactivities and then prioritize based upon your objectives and P.I.T ’s or Passions, Interests and Talents.If your objectives are more business f ocused, then considering platf orms that are used by businessprof essionals would be the way to go. LinkedIn has become the largest and most active network of businessprof essionals online and should be part of ANY strategy to grow a prof essional network. LinkedIn usersnow have the ability to create updates and post via a newsf eed, just like Facebook. Creating consistentLinkedIn updates that meet the needs of your target audience can help you reach your overall businessobjectives.For more personal objectives and reaching out to f riends and f amily, Facebook will likely be your channel ofchoice. It is also, of course, the largest GLOBAL social network and almost EVERYONE has a prof ile, so itcan be a key channel f or everyone f rom brand marketers to small business owners.Apart f rom these obvious choices, there are several other platf orms that are among the most popular andcan provide access to your target segments. T hey include sites such as: Twitter YouTube Google+ Instagram Foursquare PinterestWhen determining your platf orm of choice, consider these key f actors: Who
  • 6. Examine WHO is using the platf orm. Studies, reports and inf ographics are f loating around the web that outlines social media user statistics. Make sure your chosen platf orm speaks to your target audience. What Be sure to align the type of media on each platf orm with your passions, interests and talents or PITs. If you LOVE digital photography then choosing a community that promotes and supports that medium might prove to be a good choice.Instagram is one of the f astest growing communities that centers around digital photography. Even if you ef f orts are business f ocused, there may be a creative way to incorporate photography and rich media into your strategy. For inspiration, look no f urther than this recent Social Fresh article, ‘Top Brands Succeeding at Instagram and What You Can Learn From T hem’. Why Does engaging on your selected network help to meet your overall objective? T his might be a tough one to determine up f ront but read on to learn how to incorporate metrics and measure your success.Cont ent St rat egyDetermining specif ic channels is only half of the social media battle. You will also need to create a planaround the type of content you will be posting and sharing with your community. Be sure that each overallobjective is supported by thoughtf ul content that speaks to your target audience segments.Af ter conducting my initial research, I discovered that my 2012 plan to only post business themed updatesWASN’T serving a large portion of my community. A close f riend shared with me that she didn’t understandmy Facebook updates and she was lef t f eeling conf used. Social Media Plan = FAIL. T his f eedback helped todrive my decision to strategize BOT H my personal and prof essional posts and to explore segmenting mybusiness posts f rom those that are more personal.Phase III – Commit ment and Account abilit yOnce you have determined your active social media channels, it’s time to commit to regular updates. Try tocome up with a schedule that is realistic and consistent. If you have time to update your prof iles daily ANDyou have enough valuable content f or daily posts – then GO FOR IT ! I would argue that f or some this maynot be a realistic expectation and updating weekly may be more achievable.My posting schedule f or 2012, daily business updates Monday through Friday, was something I was strivingf or AND f or the most part was able to achieve. I considered my audience, WHEN they were online and triedto produce updates during those times. T here are a bevy of time-saving tools that can be used to helpstreamline your updates, but that’s a whole dif f erent blog post!It’s also ESSENT IAL you schedule time to ‘listen’ and respond on each active channel. Social media isn’t aone-way conversation and simply spewing out updates isn’t a good strategy f or anyone. Taking the time tothoughtf ully respond to other posts, photos, questions and conversations will help you learn more aboutyour community and ultimately make you a better communicator.Measurement
  • 7. The Social Media Planning Spreadsheet outlines my plan for 2013 and can be a GREAT template for yours. Itincludes a tab for measurement, where you can track your metrics monthly. Simply add your own content undereach tab, following the key points outlined in this article.Once you have established your plan, it’s important to come up with a f ew metrics to help hold yourselfaccountable and to determine if you’re getting closer to your ultimate objective. T he ‘Measurement’ tab onthe Social Media Planning Spreadsheet allows you to track your metrics monthly.Looking back at my objective f or 2012,organically growing my business network by a certain percentage over the 12 month time span, I can comeup with a f ew simple metrics to measure this outcome.Tracking these metrics weekly or monthly can then help to determine if I’m on the road to reaching my goalby year’s end. I strongly recommend setting up a simple spreadsheet and committing to updating yourmetrics regularly. Try to incorporate metrics that not only speak to the size of your community but also theengagement level.My metrics f or 2012 may have looked something like this: # of LinkedIn connections # of Twitter f ollowers # of RT ’s, Replies and mentions on Twitter (via Tweetreach.com) # of Google+ circlers Klout scoreIs it wort h it ?
  • 8. All of this planning may seem like T ONS of work and it will take time.However, the time you will save f rom useless updates on platf orms where nobody is listening will more thanmake up f or this initial investment.Not only will you maximize your ef f ectiveness and meet your objectives, you will also begin to see the f ruitsof your labor. Seeing monthly improvements in your social media metrics will help f uel your ef f orts and keepyou inspired to continue your regular updates. T hereby creating a SNOWBALL EFFECT of social mediasuccess!How do you plan on managing your social media profiles in 2013?Got any time-saving tools that help you stay on track? Please share your insights with the community byadding your comments.