A reflection of how you do business
By Kerry Rego
That said, a social media campaign wouldn’t be successful without a well-thought-out road map for success. Just like having a business plan, planning your social media actions gives you greater odds of achieving your goals.
Have a goal
Ask yourself these questions: What do you want the end result to be? What outcome do you desire? Clarify this information, communicate it to your entire team, and keep it in front of you. It is a given that because you are in business, you want to have more customers and make more money. Have a measurable goal such as increasing visits to your website or walk-ins at your place of business. Making more money is everyone’s goal. Take a look at your mission statement for guidance.
Choose your tools
In my practice, business owners often ask this question right away, “Should I be using Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter?” I answer with my own question, “What is your goal?” You can’t make a decision about what tool is best until you first know what you are trying to achieve and whom you are serving.
Every organization I’ve worked with has at least two audiences. Diagram their demography by asking “the five W’s”: Who is your target? Consider gender, age, race, socioeconomic background, education, needs, etc. What value can you provide? It’s not about what you want to say, it’s about what they want or need to hear from you. When will you reach them? Consider time of day and week as well as their time zone. Where are they? This covers physical location on the globe in addition to where they are on the Internet. The last “W” is a reiteration of your goal, why are you there?
If I were to give you only one resource to help you know your audience and their habits better, it’s Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project (pewinternet.org). They have studies and demographic data about your audience and their technology use that will surprise you.
When you know your audience and research where they spend their time online, choosing your tools will be easier. This requires research, testing, and observation. Just because your audience historically uses a particular tool doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best choice for your needs. Sometimes you have to test them and observe to know for sure.
It must be established who on your team is going to create content, post, and manage accounts and how frequently these actions will occur. Monitoring social media is a daily exercise much like checking your voicemail and physical mail. The amount you post depends on the answers to your five W’s and which tools are appropriate for your goals.
I suggest you create an editorial calendar. A team of people can map out content creation for a whole year in a 30-minute brainstorming session. Establish a system where ideas are captured and can be retrieved for fleshing out later. Set appointments for writing as well as posting, or it won’t happen.
Measure your efforts
In order to know if you’ve achieved your goals, you need to measure your performance. There is a misconception that the return on investment, or ROI, of social media is hard to measure. The truth is, we have more data to review than any other form of advertising or communication we’ve had in the past.
I recommend using an Excel spreadsheet to record your measurements when performing month-end processes such as reconciliation or inventory. This enables easy month-over-month comparisons for reporting. Feel free to look at your numbers more often, but be warned that obsessive observation can hinder creativity. When you worry too much about how your actions will affect your analytics, you can freeze up.
Each one of the tools comes with basic reporting features. As your expertise in interpreting data grows, your analytics will become more complex as you learn to tell the story of the data. The bottom line is you are looking to prove or disprove that your actions support your goals.
Plan for this step because the first version of your social media plan will not be your last. The Internet never stops changing. Tool makers will merge or get bought out. You learn as you measure your results, and the needs — or demands — of your audience will change. It’s like surfing and requires constant course corrections.
I believe all of these steps are important, but this final step is a deal-breaker. It’s like going to the gym. If you work out every day for a week, you wouldn’t expect a six-pack at the end of the week would you? Many expect to see fantastic results within days or weeks, but that’s simply not realistic. Give it a minimum of six months of good effort, and you’ll see positive results. I expect you will see results much sooner, depending on the tools you use, but I want to help manage your expectations.
New York Times best-selling author Chris Brogan once said, “No one ever asked what kind of pencils Hemingway used.” It’s not about the tools; it’s about what you set out to do with them. Social media is a reflection of you and how you do business.
Kerry Rego (707-520-4572, firstname.lastname@example.org, kerryregoconsulting.com) is a social media trainer, technology consultant and keynote speaker in Santa Rosa. She is the author of What You Don’t Know About Social Media Can Hurt You: Take Control of Your Online Reputation.
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