You’ve got buy the executive buy in, you’ve created your Facebook business page, and created a corporate Twitter handle but you’re still not seeing the results you were expecting, why? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of businesses struggle with social media. Whether it’s managing the 178 different social media accounts of a typical company (Tweet this), or it’s not seeing the overnight results you expected, social media is a lot more difficult it looks. Sound familiar?
Creating a Social Media Plan
Like most business initiatives success really depends on the game plan. If you jump into something like social media without a strategy it’s like trying to play in the NFL without ever devising a play book – it’s gonna be ugly. What separates social media failure from success is determination. Very few people can simply choose to be active in social media and stick with it, which is why having a game plan to keep you honest makes so much sense. So here are seven steps courteous of Jim Belosic from Social Media Examiner to help you design a game winning social media plan.
Step 1 – Make a Commitment
Before you even think of starting your social media efforts, you have to make a promise. Establishing a social media presence isn’t as glamorous as it may seem. Creating a social media presence can be a very slow process. Belosic points out that “You can’t expect your list of fans, followers or subscribers to grow overnight.” The worst thing you can do is start your businesses out by posting and updating constantly, only to get bored, lose interest and forget to log in when there’s no immediate gratification.
To prevent this slide, you have to make a commitment. No matter how silly an exercise this may seem, acknowledging and understanding that this is a long road will help keep you committed and prepare you to be active and engaged even when you feel like your presence is stagnating.
Step 2 – Find your Audience
Odds are that there are people out there who are already fans of your company and products and are talking about them. When setting up your social media efforts try to find out where these people are, and focus your efforts there. For example, are there lots of people posting YouTube videos of your products? Or are you receiving a bunch of mentions on Twitter? “Although it’s important to establish a presence on a giant like Facebook, make sure you also set up shop where you’re already visible,” says Belosic.
Step 3 – Schedule Engagement
Once you’ve identified which social media platforms you want to be on, it’s time to focus your attention on the way and frequency with which you’ll engage your users. Belosic points out that “Infrequent interaction is one of the main reasons businesses experience social media failure.” Those who successfully steadily engage their fans are those that reap the rewards of social media. Think of responding to tweets, posts, comments as daily maintenance – it has to be done. It’s also important that different strategies are needed on different platforms. Tweets move so fast that they can become irreverent within an hour, whereas Facebook status updates and posts have a little longer lifespan.
Step 4 – Content, Content, Content
The last thing your followers want are commercials. Instead they expect to have a conversation with your brand. Belosic suggests a good rule of thumb is talking “about your customers and your industry 80% to 90% of the time, then discuss your own business.” (Tweet this)This means you probably need to start a blog, write white papers, report on emerging trends, release case studies and create infographics. Again these will only serve you if you post frequently and consistently. By developing these thorough, in-depth articles and papers they will help position your company as an industry expert which will help keep you fans and followers looking to you well into the future.
Step 5 – Contests & Promos
Sounds fairly obvious, but it shouldn’t go overlooked. Try and run a contest or promo every couple of months. It’s a fine line: too many cool contests and it will become background noise to your followers, not enough and you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Contests help get your brand in front of more people. Oh ya, and make sure the prize is something to get people excited about.
Step 6 – Experiment
Once your presence is established and your users are engaged, then it’s time to expand your horizons and experiment. For example, try installing some custom Facebook apps on your page, or start posting videos on YouTube. Give some things a try for a few months, and then go back and see how well they performed. Remember that not every platform will be a fit, so if you’re not getting the results you would like don’t be afraid to pull the plug and explore a different option.
Step 7 – Delegate
If you’re at the point where you are actively looking to expand to new platforms then Great! This can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t let that get to you. Belosic warns “The larger you grow, the more in danger you are of failing to engage (Step 3), because – let’s face it – social media is a lot of work.” The answer: look at expanding your social media team. Look at adding some graphic artists to help with your infographics, writers to assist with your blog and white papers, and possibly some interns to help out with the day to day social media conversations and information – gathering.
There ya have it. Seven steps to help guide your social media plan to success. Give them a try and let me know how well they work out for you.