Developing a Social Media Plan

socialmediaSocial media is here to stay and it’s time to join the party. A strategic and mindful approach to social media can allow you to reach your audience in new, more personable ways, maintain the business you currently have and, ideally, branch out and make new connections. Creating a strategic social media plan may sound like a difficult task, but it’s not as hard as you may think.

Know your business strategy

When developing a social media plan, you must first look at your company’s current business strategy. If you don’t know your business, how will your network of followers understand what you do? Do this for any new plan you’re creating — be it for the company, the department, your personal image or a client’s social media presence. What is your overall value proposition? Is your company about providing the best value or the best service? Is your social media identity a subset of HR, marketing, PR or customer service? While your social media presence can tackle all these things, it’s important that you have a primary objective. For instance, companies with long sales cycles should focus on public relations, which can soften the market, and increase brand identity and share of voice. While, for companies with short sales cycles, marketing might be a better fit.

Know your customers

Are your customers on social media? In most cases the answer is “yes.” However, it is imperative that you investigate the demographics of your area, readers and clients. Know if and how they’re using social media and what platforms they’re using. Do they have an active group of followers? Do they engage in discourse about local news and events? Even if your customers aren’t on social media, you may want to enter the social media realm. If you’re a company that prides itself on innovation, it’s important that you’re a front-runner. As a sales rep, if you’re selling the virtues of social media to your clients, you should be actively participating in it as well.

Know your end goal

Understand that social media is rarely about pushing a product. While it can be good to notify followers of new and immediate sales, its primary objective is networking and engaging in a community discourse. It offers great branding opportunities, and gives companies a chance to develop a personable image and engage its audience.

Manage

While it’s easy to see the reasons why you would want to assign your company’s social media presence to an intern — mainly, they’re young and up on the trends — it’s one of the largest missteps you can make. Don’t believe me? Just look at the case of the Marc Jacobs Twitter Intern. This anonymous intern was assigned to maintain the fashion giant’s Twitter account while the company searched for an official overseer. Clearly frustrated and not committed to the job, the intern called his boss, CEO Robert Duffy, a “tyrant,” stating that his Twitter followers have “no idea how difficult Robert is,” adding that he wouldn’t be saying this if it wasn’t his last day. Remember, social media is a large part of your public image. You want to entrust it to someone who has a vested interest in the company; someone who lives and breathes your brand, understands the business and wants to see it succeed. Plus, interns aren’t forever. When your intern leaves, you don’t want your social media to disappear. Even if they pass the reigns to the next intern, there is no guarantee of continuity in tone or personality.

Maintain

After you’ve selected your social media manager, develop an understanding of what is expected as far as maintenance. The standard advice is to update at least once a day. However, this shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule — if you don’t have something relevant to say, it’s not worth making something up. Check all social media at least twice a day, morning and afternoon. Be sure to respond to customer comments in a timely fashion. Address all compliments with a public thank you and appreciation. Criticisms are best handled in a direct personal message. Scan through for relevant conversations to enter. It’s important that you actively engage other users and followers, which opens a dialogue and invites a response.



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