January is the time of year, we all tend to plan. Some people make resolutions; such has eating healthy, starting the new exercise regime or quitting smoking. Although these are not always kept. Resolutions are made it the ‘morning light’ of the festive season and the exuberance of a new year. Personally, I don’t make resolutions any more, I make excitement targets of what I am going to achieve in the year. In business, we should do the same thing – make excitement targets or even just objectives of what the year will bring us. All businesses should have an agile plan for what they are going to achieve in the year and this plan should include digital activities or social media – although is often ignored or forgotten.
In my blog ‘Yeah we do social media, we don’t need to plan for it, do we?’ I spoke on the importance of planning and how all businesses should plan their social media activities and align them with their goals. mission and vision. While you are making your plans, targets and objectives for the year, I thought I’d make it even easier for you to start that agile social media plan. Here are the 8 steps that will start you off on the road to social media success.
Step #1 – Clarify your objectives
What do you want to achieve this year and don’t just say ‘to increase sales’. Make your objectives SMART and in alignment with your business objectives.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timebound
So how many Facebook page likes do you want to get by June, by December? How many comments or likes on each post will you be happy with? Make each objective relevant for your business and where you are at. Remember social media is all about engagement – so make sure you consider how you will evaluate whether you have been engaging.
Step #2 – Identify your target market /audience
A lot of businesses believe that their social media posts can be directed to everyone as that is who they want to attract. However, most people these days are time poor and bombarded with advertising and businesses messages, so if your posts are not directly targeted to them or of interest to them, they will not pay attention to your important messages. Your time, effort and money is then wasted. A 50 year old family man is going to be interested in different messages than a 25 year old single male, even if they use the same product. They are just interested in different things. Therefore it is important to work out exactly who your audience is so you can write messages directly to them. This will increase the chance that your post will be read.
Step #3 – Identify the social media channels they use
Not all groups of people are on every social media channel and pay attention to every message on all channels. By a rule of thumb (not always the case) If you were targeting professionals, then your would use LinkedIn; if you were targeting media, then Twitter is the best channel; if you were targeting youth then it is Instagram and for the general population, it is Facebook. But it all depends on your product and how your audience uses each social media channel. You need to investigate your target market a little so that you can make sure your social media efforts are not being wasted.
Step #4 – Work out what tone /voice and even personality you want to deliver
It is important to write social media posts as naturally as possible – all posts need to fit into a person’s newsfeed. This will help to alleviate annoyance of a business ‘intruding’ on a person’s personal newsfeed. You need to determine what sort of voice you want to give your social media presence. Do you want your voice fun, cheeky, professional and the list goes on? Do you use humour or keep it straight to the point. You want to develop a tone or voice for your social media and keep it consistent, well as much as possible.
Step #5 – Schedule your posts
You determine how many posts a day you want to do – rule of thumb, only post if it adds value. Some businesses post once a week, others post a couple of times a week, while others post daily or a couple of times a day. You need to work out what you will feel comfortable doing and how often you can manage writing the posts. If you plan to do them daily, you might choose a theme for the day; for instance Mondays are #tipsoftheweek while Tuesdays are inspirational quotes, Wednesdays are engagement questions etc. You want to work out what is best for you and what adds value to your brand. But don’t stress out about coming up with posts daily, you can schedule them in advance – what is important now is you clarify what you will do this year. This doesn’t mean that all posts need to be worked out immediately but you plan for what you can do so it makes it easier when you get really busy.
Step #6 – Identify who creates posts and who posts them
Knowing the roles of each team member is important. Some businesses may only have 1 person who is in charge of all social media while other businesses may have many people. If your business does have a team, you want to clarify who does what and when so the social media is looked after and not neglected. Share responsibility and empower your team and staff – you don’t have to do everything on your own. You might even consider getting an agency to help manage your social media so you can concentrate on what you are good at and let them concentrate on what they are good at – a win-win situation.
Step #7 – Determine how you will respond to positive and negative feedback
Having an agile plan for how you engage with your fans is important. How fast do you respond, who responds, should you check/approve the response before posting. These are all questions you want to start thinking about. A crisis can happen at any time, and you do want to be as planned as possible so you make decisions immediately and resolve situations before they get out of hand. Having a Crisis Communication Plan (CCP) can also help as they allow you to determine what happens when you get a bad review, service goes wrong, etc. A social media agency could also help you developing a CCP.
Step #8 – Monitor your social media
A lot of businesses forget this step, but it is important to keep an eye on what is being said in the digital space about your organisation so that you can resolve issues as soon as they crop up. Not all negative posts are posted directly on your page so you do want to keep an eye on key words. There are a large number of free and paid services that you can get, to alert you on key words. But at the very least, you do want to keep an eye on your social media pages – periodically look at comments and shares so you know what is being said, and if required you can respond and engage with your fans. People in today’s society want two-way communication with brands/businesses – it is now part of the decision making process for consumers. So you do need to get on board and be open to engaging with your likers.
Social media is all about engagement and plans need to be agile enough that you can change them based on what is happening. But the more prepared you are, the more your can achieve and the more excited your can get at the end of the year. If you complete those 8 steps, you are well on your way to have a successful year in the social media space. Good luck!