The Importance of a Social Media Plan & How to Create One

In How To, Social Media by Dawn Iraci

Making a social media (SM) plan is the first step to the success of your brand in the digital media world. Using SM is a powerful tool that can position your brand as an industry expert and catapult it into an industry leader. SM is real-time connection between a brand and its publics, which makes the possibilities limitless!

Evangelist Guy Kawasaki’s recurring piece of advice is to create a mantra, three or four words that captures the essence of your organization.

This mantra is great to put on the bios of your SM profiles and even to create a conversation by hashtagging it. For example, Kawasaki’s mantra is #IEmpowerPeople. Kawasaki also suggests using the same profile photo, usually the brand’s logo, on all SM sites. This makes your brand instantly recognizable.

Then start asking the right questions. Some of these questions might already be answered in your brand’s mission statement. Who is your brand? What does your brand stand for? What are your brand’s interests and passions? Are there any groups or causes your brand supports? These answers will help you identify your audience and guide you to the correct SM outlets.

Moz founder, Rand Fishkin, suggests the following questions be asked in this short video, Creating a Social Media Strategy.

What are your goals? Are you trying to achieve traffic, looking for brand awareness, searching for links, press or endorsements? Who do you want to reach? Is it current customers, potential customers, influencers or perhaps new markets that haven’t been reached yet? And of course, which channels are going to work best for us?

Which brings us to the next step. Once you’ve clarified why you’re using SM, you then want to find your brand’s audience by researching the various SM outlets. For instance, Pinterest demographics are affluent females. If your brand sells luxury goods to women, then Pinterest is the place to be. If your brand’s clients are people over 55, then Twitter is the place since grandparents are the fastest growing demographic on Twitter right now. It’s an excellent idea to eventually get your brand on as many SM sites as possible but you want to start where your brand will be most successful and work from there. Here’s another useful video from Moz, where Fishkin breaks it down by the size of the network, How to Identify the Right Social Channels.

Once you’ve chosen the proper SM outlet it’s time to research what the best posting practice is for that particular network. Find out many times a day or week is it best to post and what are peak times for each network. SM messages can easily be scheduled to automatically post through Buffer, Tweetdeck or others on this list.

Scheduling your posts allows you to create messages when inspiration strikes and still post them at the most effective times.

Remember that it’s always better to post too much rather than too little. SM profiles that haven’t posted for any extended period of time, even if it’s just a week, appear unengaged and the last thing a brand wants is to seem detached from its publics. Business SM is a daily task. Everyday something exciting happens in your business and SM is the perfect place to tell everyone about it. Also, experts say the best posts have media attached. Always attach at least a photo but statistics show that attaching a video is far better. Keep them short and riveting.

Now that your brand has started its SM journey the real fun begins. Use Hootsuite or Klout to analyze results. Sites like these will guide your SM to be even more effective. Many of these sites offer free trials so use those to your advantage. As with any aspect of your business the monitoring of results is important to the maximization of your work so take into consideration any and all analysis you can find. For instance, on sites like www.compete.com you can enter any website address and see it’s analytics, a great way to see how your competitor’s websites are doing. The following article has information on some of what’s available out there.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, be sure to research proper etiquette for posting. SM can make or break a brand. Explore SM misfires and mistakes and apply what you learn to keep your brand’s reputation impeccable. Research how to handle SM mishaps, so if it happens to your brand, you’ll be ready and able to turn it into a success. Always be asking, what is appropriate? What is inappropriate? The subjects that are never to be brought up in the workplace are the same in SM. When in doubt, always air on the side of prudence.

Social media is the ultimate way for your brand to connect with its publics. It’s instant, effective and transparent, all the things a respectable, reputable and accomplished brand should be. Follow this easy plan to make a strong foundation for the success of your brand on social media.

About the Author

Dawn Iraci

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Dawn Iraci is a senior in telecommunications at the University of Florida. She blogs and curates content about digital and social media for the College of Journalism Distance Education Program.