Internet Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy

How to Build a Social Media Plan

Bottom Shape


Nov 22 2010

“Ready, Fire, Aim!” Most businesses approach social media by jumping right in and forgetting to plan. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe!” This works just as well in launching your social media campaign. Take the time to get your strategy right. Here are the steps to build the “sharpest” social media plan on the web:

1. Know your Marketing Objectives

Before jumping into the heavy traffic of social media, you have to know where you want to be in the end.  When working with clients, we first establish a set of goals and what it is that they hope to achieve.  How do you want to expose your business? Are you going for awareness, sales, leads?  What do you hope to learn or get out of using these social mediums?  You can then evaluate these set goals and have a better understand of what to monitor and measure.

2. Know your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is important in creating an effective social media plan. Who are you trying to target? What are they interested in?  What gets them excited? And where are they online? These are the necessary questions you need to ask yourself in developing your strategy – you need to know how to attract potential clients!

3. Develop a Content Plan

If you really know your target audience you can create a content plan that is meaningful to them.  What do they REALLY care about?  How can you connect with them by talking about things they are interested in?  What things, related to your product, are they really passionate about? Your content should be relevant to the psychographics of your audience.

4. Determine Calls to Action

Based on your marketing objectives you should be able to develop calls to action – action that you want someone to take that will ultimately lead to business value for you.  This might be getting their email address, having them call you, a direct sale online, filling out a contact form, etc.  Knowing your call to action or ultimate goal will help you really drive value from your social marketing.

5. Tools

Pick the best tools for the job.  One of the CEO’s I coached asked me how they should go about choosing a social media to achieve their objectives.  I advised that based on the content, target and calls to action, you should look for the social media tools that will optimize your chance of objective success.  The tools you pick are contingent to where your audience is and the flexibility and opportunities for marketers in the various tools.  For example, your audience may be on Facebook (since most people are) but they may not be interested in ”liking” you, and it may be difficult to find them and connect based on the limitations of Facebook.

6. Execute & Experiment

Executing your strategy is not a walk in the park.  It is important that you give yourself enough time and make resources available so you can create the best possible delivery, specific to your business.  Set up different tests to evaluate different executions.  For example, tweet different things, pose your questions in different ways, try different days and times and see which tweets get the most traction and clicks.  This way, you can determine the best way to reach your intended audience and what strategies get the most reception.

7. Measure

Measure, measure, measure.  My clients who have purchased my social media training packages have told me that “Measuring Social Media” was one of the most vital and beneficial pieces of advice the received upon completing the program.  During the experimentation stage it is vital to test, experiment and measure your social media execution.  Your measures should help you decide if what you are doing is working.  Measuring can include mentions in blogs, tags, tweets, news articles and other forms of exposure for your business. Be cautious in your measures though and be sure to assess the real problem.  For example, if I gave you a screwdriver and asked you to put a nail into a piece of wood, you probably couldn’t.  It doesn’t mean that the screwdriver is broken, it just means that it isn’t the right tool for the task.  It would be wrong to conclude that 1) The screwdriver doesn’t work 2) The nail can’t be put into the wood. Keep your options open when it comes to the different social media engines – setting up boundaries is contradicting the limitlessness of social media!

8. Adapt

Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.  Don’t be afraid to abandon a strategy if it doesn’t work.  One word of caution – beware of your measures.  For example, you may have started using Twitter to build awareness, but find that it is actually really effective for customer service.  If you only measure awareness you may miss the boat.  So, while your measures might be specific, be sure to look at tools and success in a comprehensive way.

4 Replies to “How to Build a Social Media Plan”

  1. I’m only 1 day into the 3 day Boot Camp Digital class, taught by Krista Neher, at Cincinnati State, but I would already highly recommend it.

  2. This is a simple, yet effective, strategy to build a strategic marketing plan. I’m also enjoying the social media class at Cincinnati State. Thanks, Krista.

  3. Excellent description of strategic use of social media. Having a strategic plan helped us keep on track at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services. It also allowed us to get essential support from executives and information systems experts. I’m looking forward to creating and implementing a strategic social media marketing plan for my new employer, Catholic Health Partners, when I start there in January 2011.

  4. Rob – thanks for the kind words on the class – glad to hear that you would recommend it (that is probably the best compliment).

    Bob – Thanks for the comment – the key to success is in the planning!

    Mike – Glad to hear that you are moving on to exciting new opportunities. I think that the work you did at JFS was really interesting, Perhaps we should do a recap of it as a blog post some time? Maybe an interview and discussion……

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