Developing a Plan

create your social media plan

How to Implement a Model that Works…

When first starting out you want to be careful trying to convert your visitors to customers. In the long-term, that type of thinking will cause you to make less conversions. As discussed previously, you need to build relationships with your audience before you try to convert them to customers.

Understanding the problems

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is trying to figure out what their customers want and how to give it to them – without asking. The reason that’s typically a mistake is because customers say they want one thing but usually need something else.

Example: Bob Wants a Gaming Computer

Bob wants to get into gaming and goes to store to buy a gaming computer. The salesperson, upon asking questions, found out that Bob doesn’t know much about computers and he rarely uses them for tasks other than checking e-mail, but he wants to start playing games. The salesperson asked Bob about gaming consoles, since Bob rarely uses a computer. After looking at the available selections for consoles and understanding the capabilities of consoles, Bob opted for a PlayStation instead of a gaming computer. With the money Bob saved, he was able to purchase several games too.

Notice that Bob walked into a store asking for a computer and walked out with the PlayStation. He thought he knew what he wanted before he entered the store, but with asking the right questions, the salesperson was able to help Bob with what he really wanted.

To avoid common problems like this, you need to ask your audience what they want. By doing this, you’ll be able to come up with a problem they are facing and a solution to resolve it for them.

Here are some sample survey questions to ask your audience:

  1. How can I help you?
  2. What is the biggest problem you are facing?
  3. How much would you be willing to pay for a solution to your problem?
  4. If I have any further questions, may I follow up with you?

Your survey questions do not need to be complex. Ask a few simple questions to understand their problem. You also want to know how much money they are willing to pay or a solution. It’s your job to find a solution, and once you’ve come up with it, follow up with the respondents that marked “YES” to question number four. If steps like these that help you figure out if you’re on the right path.

It All Begins with Planning

Before you begin – ask yourself where do you want your business to be in 18-24 months?

  • What are you doing this for?
  • What are your goals?
  • What do you want your brand to be?

Once you’ve determined where you want to be, it’s easy to create a road map to get there!

Using simple goal-setting strategies, break your goals into manageable sections and reverse engineer your daily actions to hit your targets.

Getting your brand in place

  • What do you want it to look like? Feel like? Think of the vision Tony Hsieh had for Zappos or Jeff Bezos had for Amazon.
  • What’s your elevator pitch in 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 5 minutes?
  • What’s the whole story?

Pick your favorite social media platform

Where’s your audience and what do they prefer? It doesn’t have to be Facebook or Twitter. As we discussed earlier, it could be your blog, it could be your e-mail list, or could be something completely different.

Whatever platform you choose, don’t pick one you hate. If you hate Tweeter – it’s not going to work – use something else. The social platform you choose should feel good for you. I recommend you start with one platform. Learn it, use it, and get really good at populating it.

Remember, your engagement should be useful and informative

Step one, two, and three

  • Step 1: Plan.
  • Step 2: brand.
  • Step 3: Use one social channel for 30 days.

When beginning a new campaign, it can be overwhelming. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

I recommend you create an editorial calendar in order to maintain your activities. Your audience wants regular content – that’s what keeps them coming back. Updates can consist of news, pictures, status updates about your company, your people and your projects, industry news, local events or even jokes. Every post will help engage and connect with your target audience and help build a group of people who have your brand at the top of their mind.

  • Post regular updates
  • Develop a consistent style
  • Comment on other people’s posts and updates
  • Like often and be generous with your praise
  • Help whenever you can
  • Connect with relevant pages and contacts
  • Don’t be shy

As you develop your plan, remember, social media is not a competition. You can have a very successful business with just a few of the “right” clients.

Read MoreWARNING – Once you start a social media campaign you will need to follow through or risk your audience thinking you abandoned them. The easiest way to maintain consistent publishing is to establish an editorial calendar. This is the second most important step (behind creating a buyer persona). This article, How to Put Together an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing, by Michele Linn offers easy to follow step-by-step plans that will get you organized quickly.

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Image: Ty Rothstein / StoreYa

Writing Your Plan in 7 Steps

1. Set your goals.

According to a recent study, people who write down their goals are more successful than those who do not. Goal setting and planning have nothing to do with your social or economic background – it is more a reflection on how you look at yourself.

As you are setting out your goals, short term goals should look at three months, six months, and one year. Long-term goals should look at five years, seven years, and 10 years. If you’re an entrepreneur, your marketing plan and life plan will probably be intertwined.

2. Identify your niche.

3. Create your signature story.

4. Create your customer archetype or persona.

Your ideal customer will change over time as your business evolves and grows. As you complete your goals, analyze your customer and make sure that you’re targeting the correct audience for your business.

5. Build your foundation with website and a blog.

6. Create your social media house.

Above are five groups of social engagement that, when used in harmony with one another, can help you scale your social media effectively and manage it easily.

Group 1: Direct Engagement

Recommended Frequency: 3 – 4 out of every 10 posts.

Make sure you’re in a two-way conversation with people consistently.

facebook50Facebook: If you see something interesting on a Facebook pages, don’t just “like” it, write a true comment about it and get more involved.

twitter50Twitter: Send messages to people or mention you are with them by using the @ sign and their username (For Example: I’m @365). Retweet (RT) comments you like by others.

blogger50Blog Reading: Create a Google Profile and join communities of blog readers. Leave comments on blogs you like. Google Profiles are now attached to your Google+ account so make sure you get set up with a Google+ account (and don’t forget rich snippets).

tumblr50Tumblr: A simple to use blogging platform that will allow you to comment on and re-blog others’ links, quotes, videos and songs with a click of a button.

youtube50YouTube: Bonus! Make custom video comments or special greetings with a smartphone; post them as comments or contributions. Subscribe to other people’s channels, and comment on their videos. Mobile apps like Periscope and Meerkat allow you to stream live video.

foursquare50Foursquare: Create fun spots that relate to you, your brand, or your events and check in, interact with others when you are out and about. Of course, Facebook now has Facebook Places which functions quite similarly, though it doesn’t have nearly as much functionality in terms of making lists and engaging as it’s own stand alone platform.

Group 2: Shine a Light on Others

Recommended Frequency: 3 out of every 10 posts

All the best social media users know this and use it well. This takes all of the attention off of you and puts it onto others, and people will appreciate your kindness because you are recognizing them in front of new potential fans and followers and therefore helping them get known.

facebook50 blogger50Quote people you like by sharing their profiles and videos on Facebook and re-post on your blog.  Link to articles and interesting things that catch your attention such as videos, photos etc.

twitter50#FF (Follow Friday), #ST(Star Wars Tuesday) and RT’ing on Twitter –
Reprint pieces of things that others have written, or link to great content. Review books or others information that your audience will align with – talk about why and how those items influenced you. Use can use bit.ly to track the effectiveness and to shorten the URL’s in your tweets.

Group 3: Curate Content

Recommended Frequency: 2 – 3 out of every 10 posts

Content may be king but content curation is next in line.

rssfeed50The best part is you can set up an RSS reader to pull interesting content for you so you don’t have to come up with anything brilliant – just select what you like and share it with your audience.

Ask yourself: How do I spend time online?  What do I read? Are there sites I visit daily?  Add them to the RSS reader (here is a brilliant Commoncraft video that will teach you how to set one up. Then all you have to do is grab the content you like and share (remember to always give credit where credit is due).

Music: Use Spotify or SoundCloud to share songs, albums and playlists on Facebook.

Recipes: Post links to foods you like from Epicurious or TheFoodNetwork

Media: Post book reviews, music reviews or film reviews

Blogs: News, politics, celebrity gossip, parenting, fashion, art, sports – all make good topics for people to connect around

Group 4: A Picture Says 1,000 Words

Recommended Frequency: 2 out of every 10 posts

Visuals are extremely effective and they can help you mix up your strategy nicely.

instagram50Take photos using your mobile and post them to Facebook and Twitter. If you have an iPhone, the best way to do this is using the Instagram app.

twitter50I love Twitpic & YFrog because they are so easy to use and create instant Twitter integration.

pinterest50Pinterest is a wonderful way to share photos of anything you are passionate about, and create some boards for your brand or products.

youtube50Create “thought” videos using your mobile and post them to YouTube. There are free and paid apps to help you do this.

youtube50Post videos on your custom Youtube channel, embed them on your blog and link them to your Twitter. They don’t even have to be videos that you necessarily make on your own. They can be videos you like or that are important to you (like a charity) – use subjects that will resonate with your audience.

Group 5. Shine a Light on Yourself

Recommended Frequency: 1 out of every 10 posts

Self promotion is okay to do once in a while, not in an over-hypey, annoying way.Its OK – but not too often!

It is after all, vital to tell people if you have a new product or service, or anything that’s newsworthy, noteworthy, and important for your audience (and potential audience) to know about.

Don’t forget about your specific calls to actions or these postings won’t be fruitful.

So – Choose from Groups 1-5 and mix it up and soon you will be fully engaging people easily and naturally, without thinking. Just like eating!

Read MoreThe easiest way to stay on top of your social media activities is to create an editorial calendar. Michele Linn has written an article outlining the some of the benefits and how’s of scheduling content publishing.

Lastly, social media isn’t only online. It’s communicating with your audience. In order to be successful, you’ll need to get out from behind the computer and attend marketing events, seminars and speaking engagements. You should be meeting people and making new contacts and clients.

7. Create the 3C’s – Consistent Compelling Content

Great content should be your number one focus. It’s what gets your audience interested in you. Bottom line – be interesting and interested!

Last Minute Q&A

1. Considering all of the options for social media promotion, which should be your priority and where should you spend the most time or investment?

You should spend most of your time where your fans are. This means that BEFORE you start marketing and engaging your audience, you need to have the following information:

  1. An understanding of who your ideal audience is so that you can seek them out.
  2. An understanding of what the demographics are for each social platform so that you can best target where your ideal audience are hanging out.

Once you know the answer to those questions, you can determine which social platform should take priority.

2. What’s a good way to get your followers talking about or checking you out without spamming them?

The best and only way to get people to check you out and talk about you is to have REAL conversations with them. It is through this two-way conversation that you will build relationships, which are the only way to establish real supporters that will listen, share and be a brand ambassador for you.

Understand that social media platforms our conversation tools – NOT broadcast tools.

3. If I have a marketing budget to use promoting my business, how would that money best be spent?

Before you establish your self through any social media website platform, you need to establish your own communication hub – a place that you OWN online. A place that will never go away, no matter what social platform is popular… I’m talking about your own website.

You should budget for establishing and maintaining your own online presence, which consists of three things:

  1. Your own official website.
  2. Your own official blog that should be built into your website.
  3. The use of either a newsletter or e-mail (preferably both) to stay in communication with your audience.

4. How many emails per week would you say is acceptable? I don’t want to spam my audience.

Unlike social websites, which for the most part are understood to be a public-facing endeavor, email has been, and will always remain, a very private and personal platform.

If your audience is willing to give you an e-mail address, they expect that you will respect and appreciate the fact that you now have access to them. Giving an email address, in this respect, is no different than giving a mailing address or a phone number to someone.

In order to remain responsible to your audience and respect their wishes of not feeling taken advantage of or overly marketed to, you should keep your emails to a minimum.

5. What is a realistic time frame to develop my true audience?

There’s no easy way to answer this question… There is no magic bullet for building an audience base.

What works for one person, may never work for another. All businesses (in any industry) can have a difficult time building an audience base. That’s why 95% of all businesses fail.

Understanding what it takes to establish an audience base is the first step toward success. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to work on a strategy that works best for you and your audience so that you have the opportunity to reach them.

There is no magic bullet, all you can do is provide great answers to your audience’s problems and apply a great strategy that caters to them.

Avoid Managing Too Much

Handling multiple accounts can be overwhelming and trying to create the necessary content could put you over the edge.

Pick one platform first and learn it well.You need to have a thorough understanding of the platform you are using, how it operates and have the knowledge of the tips and tricks.

Watch the news for trends on that platform

Don’t make your niche too broad… Be selective and focused.

  • In order to drive traffic – you will have to participate within the platforms community.
  • Make friends with other users – know them on a personal level.
  • Vote, re-tweet, or share other stories.
  • Join the conversation that people are having.
  • Submit new content that is useful and purposeful to the audience.

You need to know what your audience wants before you start.

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Who’s going to manage your social media?

Give careful consideration to which employees you want updating the site and think carefully about what information should be made public. Having a manual or guidelines for employees to follow will aid in keeping the blog or news site focused on news.

Whether the company is run by one person or has many employees, give careful consideration about personal opinions or pictures being published on the site. One of the reasons Apple is successful is due to the strong focus on their brand and their ambition to make quality products. Adding pictures of the company’s owners will help users connect with your company. Give careful consideration to put images of employees on the site since employees come and go.

There is a bigger concern putting names and images of employees online. This is the social media age and your employees might have social profiles of their own. Be very careful of employees you feature on the corporate site. You would not want what he or she does in their personal life to affect your company.

Read MoreBonus: Want to learn more about social media? Here are 9 links to walk you through some of the more common social media activities. From optimizing your LinkedIn profile to crafting a social media policy, here’s something for almost everyone:

  1. Social Media Examiner Show – a daily 10-minute show designed to keep you up-to-date on the latest social media marketing know-how – SocialMediaExaminer.com
  2. How to Commit Internet Suicide and Disappear from the Web Forever – LifeHacker.com
  3. How to Use Social Media to Recruit, Retain, & Recognize Volunteers – Volunteerspot.com
  4. How to Get the Social-Media Generation Behind Your Cause – AdAge.com
  5. How to Build a Social Media Policy – ITBusinessEdge.com
  6. Musicians: How to Rock Up Your Social Media Presence – BlogWorld.com
  7. A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media ROI – Hootsuite.com
  8. 40 Things You Should Do to Increase Social Media Engagement – InboundMarketingAgents.com
  9. How to Pitch Social Media to Your Boss — JesseLuna.com

NEXT: Generating Content