Posted on: 12 October 2018

Getting the most out of social media

Social media has a history reaching as far back as 1997 with the website SixDegrees.com based on the ‘Six Degrees of Separation theory’. In recent years the popularity of mobile devices has contributed to the growth of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and more recently, Instagram. Social media has rapidly grown to become a reliable platform for businesses to communicate with their customers.

Social media plans should be seamlessly integrated into a business plan, and if implemented properly, can be a strong strategic move. Having a plan on how you are going to use your social media channels will make sure that communications are effective.

Why use social media?

Before creating your social media plan, think of the reasons why you feel you need to use social media.

  • Will social media help you achieve your objectives?
  • How are you going to use social media?
  • Who will your platforms be for?
  • What experience will your social media platform offer that your other marketing channels don’t?
  • Who will be responsible for your social media? Yourself, an employee or an agency?
  • Who will be able to access the channels?
  • Is there already someone in the company who deals with PR? Consider using that person to run the social media channels to retain a consistent brand personality.
  • How will you advertise your uniqueness through social media?
  • How do you decide what content is appropriate to share?

Key elements of a social media plan

Thinking about your business objectives will help you understand what you want to achieve with your business social media presence. For example, you may set goals to increase sales, engage with your customers or increase brand awareness. A social media plan can take many forms but it should include:

  • Research business goals - Thinking about your business objectives will help you understand what you are aiming to achieve. How can social media help you reach these goals?
  • Set objectives - These should align with your overall business goals. Set your objectives using the S-M-A-R-T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) framework and define how you will get from Point A (an unfulfilled goal) to Point B (a successfully fulfilled goal).
  • Customer research – Consider your ideal customers. Who are they? What do you know about them? List their age, occupation, income, interests, likes, dislikes and motivations to build up a persona to help you understand who you will be talking to.
  • Competitor analysis – This is a great place to start to help you understand what works within your industry. Look at the types of content your competition is posting and how their customers are engaging with it. Can you learn from their successes or failures?
  • Tactics – Once you understand your business goals, social media objectives, customers and competitors you can then start to plan the approaches you will use to carry out your strategy. Break down your goals into channels and specific, detailed tactics that will help you achieve your objectives.
  • Content strategy – Your business will need great content to succeed at social media. Content can be presented in a number of ways such as text, images, links and video etc. You should consider the type of content, time of posting and frequency of posting.
  • Details of budget and resources - To budget for social media, look at the tactics you’ve chosen to achieve your business goals and objectives. Consider if you require any additional resources or tools to manage your social media. If you think you will need a large budget, plan to prioritise tactics that will have the shortest return of investment (ROI) timeframe.

Social Media Dos and Don’ts

Dos

Some of these ideas could give your social media a great boost:

  • Post in a more personal “tone of voice”.
  • Develop a reputation in your industry instead of focussing on your products.
  • Use social media to prompt a conversation with your clients instead of only posting marketing messages.
  • Use social media as an opportunity to let your customers’ voices be heard.
  • Polls and questions will attract customers to engage with your content.
  • Allow feedback to make it easy for future customers or decision makers to decide if your business or products are right for them.
  • Link your social media channels to your website and vice versa. Make it easy to drive traffic.
  • Keep posts factual, relevant and timely.

Don’ts

Social media isn’t just about publishing so customers come flooding through. Make sure you avoid these pitfalls:

  • Avoid blanket posting content across all your social channels in a short time frame. Social networks such as Facebook have built in algorithms which could stop customers seeing your posts if you post too often.
  • Social media is about sharing content and ideas, so don’t post solely about your business and product, think beyond your own products or services.
  • Don’t post opinion based content as it could divide your audience and drive traffic away.
  • Your social media channels should be regularly updated. Don’t neglect to keep posting with regular content to continue engaging with your clients.

Once written, your social media plan should develop to meet your ever changing business needs. Depending on the industry you may discover some tactics are not working as well as you planned. For example what works for the food, hospitality and leisure industry may not work for retail businesses. Most importantly, always try to learn and adapt and evolve your social media plan.


Source: Zywave Inc. Developing a Social Media Plan


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