Putting Together a Preliminary Social Media Plan that Works

From incubation, to conceptualization, to birth, to infancy, to early growth of a business or organisation, proper social media use should rank very high right beside creating a quality product or service through all the stages of the business growth cycle.

Even at that point where a business decides to enter into a strategic partnerships with a customer, the proper use of the business social media channels are very much important. In order to gain trust, establish expertise, meet new potential customers and convert them into paying clients/customers, the need for businesses to have a wholesome social media presence is paramount in this modern age and time. It is simply not enough to have social media channels (i.e Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) for your business without a clear strategy for social media use, business growth and conversion into improved earnings.

New businesses often struggle to get the customer engagement levels, increased interactions and improved sales numbers that they desire from the use of social the business social media channels. However, to get the most out of your social media efforts, the following guides are paramount:
- Review/audit of current social media channels (if any).
- Developing goals and mission statements for individual channels.
- Social media channel(s) analysis (identifying what works).
- Putting together the team.
- Create a SMAART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Attractive, Relevant, Time bound) content strategy and editorial calendar across channels.
- Track, measure and analyze results.

Review/Audit of Current Social Media Channels.
Prior to creating social media goals, missions and strategy for the different channels, there is the need to assess all existing social media channels in use and how well they are working at present.

Developing Goals and Mission Statements for Individual Channels.
All social media business planning should start with defining clear goals and mission statements for the different channels. Without a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with social media, you are unlikely to achieve anything at all because your efforts will be scattered or aimless at best. In addition, different social media goals require different sets of action. For example, if your goal is to gain credibility in the industry, that looks very different from if your goal is to increase the number of followership or likes, or to converting followership into paying clients to increase revenue earnings.

Start by writing down at least three social media goals for your business. Make sure each goal is specific, realistic and measurable. It is vital to make your goals measurable so that you can track your business progress towards each goal. To test how measurable your goal is, ask yourself what it will look like when partially or completely achieved. If you do not know, then you need to continue working on the goal’s measurability.

It is also important that the goals for the social media channels relate to the overall goals of the business. Rather than choosing social media goals arbitrarily, make sure these goals tie in with your overall brand identity, marketing and productivity goals.

Social Media Channel(s) Analysis.

Social media can be used effectively to tell stories to better define your brand/business and navigate the labyrinth of the many other narratives to communicate effectively with the target niche you want to serve and engage with. The many different channels available provide the platform to trawl, identify, target and disseminate controlled information, to better communicate [with], and engage a wider audience at regular intervals to sieve out new start-ups and potential clients while also serving existing clientele.

The following social media channels are considered in this case; Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

Facebook:
Facebook’s News Feed is a very visible place for social marketing posts, it is one of the best places for brands and companies to distribute their content in order to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic and distinguish the business brand as a thought leader. This strategy is even more effective when businesses take advantage of Facebook’s targeting capabilities that allow one to tailor specific messages to specific users with certain interests.

Instagram:
Instagram is best for sharing photos and short videos that communicates a company’s culture, to show updates on events (i.e a new product launch) and to also answer pertinent questions from existing or prospective clients [via short video uploads] addressing questions previously sent it.

LinkedIn:
LinkedIn is a robust network with the most numbers of users that frequent the site with a “work” mind-set. The advantage with this is that LinkedIn is an amazing network for B2C and B2B social media marketing. Whereas channels like Twitter and Facebook catch users more on their personal time, LinkedIn gives a business access to users when they are at their professional best. LinkedIn can be used to build a very robust relationship with new converts and future clients.
* Note: Blog posts and Newsletters should be replicated here

Twitter:
Twitter is a tidal wave of information that can be best used as a client service and business development channel. With effective monitoring of the network for inbound messages from dissatisfied prospective clients that your services would benefit then quickly converting them into happy interactions to land the client. At the same time, brands can manage, inform and educate prospective and existing clients through the channel about the products/services on offer.

YouTube:
YouTube is a great social media channel for sharing entertaining, educational and informational video contents about the brand.

A close look and analysis of the social media goals combined with the business model plan would help determine the ranking order of the social media channels that would best suit the business goals and contents on social media.

Understanding What Works?

Amazing Contents: Having simple and easy to comprehend useful tips and information across the social media channels listed above is a good start.

Types of Contents: Links [to blog post and newsletters], images, quotes, reshares/retweets and new updates.

Content Ratio: Create a 4:1 ratio of sharing four staple update and one different type in every 5 post on a particular channel for variety.

Frequency of Post: Facebook 2x daily, Twitter 5x daily (excluding responses to questions and complaints), Instagram 2x daily, LinkedIn 1x daily, Blog post 1x weekly.

Putting Together the Team

To effectively manage and deliver on the social media goals, a team comprising of a Copy Writer familiar with the business theme and a Graphics Designer would be important to properly plan, develop, design and manage the contents shared across the social media channels.

The team would meet at an agreed upon periodic interval to plan, design and produce the contents for the social media channels, review and analyze results and improve upon successful campaign strategies for the duration agreed upon (weekly, monthly or quarterly).

Create a SMAART Content Strategy and Editorial Calendar

All of the work done in the previous steps would better enable the team to develop a comprehensive content strategy for a business social media campaign. The content strategy should solve questions such as:
- What type(s) of content one intends to post and promote via the different social media channels?
- How often one will post the contents across the different social media channels?
- Target audience for each content?
- How the content posted would be promoted….etc

To achieve these, one must create SMAART goals:
Specific objectives and goals must be set.
Measurable means of gauging your success and clear means of proving your return on investment.
Attainable objectives and goals that aligns with the business broader marketing strategies.
Attractive posts composing of witty word play, pictures, GIF and videos.
Relevant contents for the target niche.
Time bound to achieve the campaign objectives.

Apart from creating a content strategy, one should also create an editorial calendar. The editorial calendar clearly identifies the social media team member responsible for creating specific contents, a list of the dates and time for posting said contents [if approved] across the social media channels, and all other contents and materials one might plan to use during special events and marketing campaigns offline.

Track, Measure and Analyze Results.

The social media marketing strategies should provide a clear direction for plan implementation and assessment. Stakeholder equity in marketing communications increases both the brand awareness and network capacity for more opportunities leverage leading to value capitalization. So, the participation of the business owner(s) at the content creation strategy sessions would be of paramount importance.

The use of agreed upon analytics tool(s) to find out how well the social media channels are doing; who is reading what, responding and reposting which particular social media posts via what channel is paramount.

Matching up the analytics with already defined goals by examining the data that measures specific progress towards the objectives set so one can ensure the campaign are on the right track.

Periodic analysis of the campaign will help resolve issues by clearly identifying things that are working, and things that are not working. At this point, the content strategies can be tweaked, re-worked and re-written based on the result analysis to stimulate a better response from the target niche based on the social media channel campaign goals. A brand/business needs to keep improving on previous social media strategies and successes by carefully analyzing data obtained by using social media analytics tools (i.e Google Analytics). This is a sure guide for improving the next campaign.

The plan is however meant to change as often as needed; it must be flexible and open to tweaks. As the business goals and objectives are attained, new ones are set and one may need to adjust old strategies and set new ones for each social media channel.

Design – Execute – Analyze – Tweak – Repeat