Image courtesy of Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen on Flickr.com

I can promise creating the best social media plan for your brand won’t be easy, but if you follow these simple steps you can have a great asset added to your communication tools. Since businesses have begun leveraging social media efforts, more refined and well thought out strategies have emerged. You should learn from them.

  • What to Know
  • Choosing the Right Social Media Channels
  • Social Media at its Best
  • Creating a Social Media Plan

Steps to Create the Best Social Media Plan for Your Brand

  1. Map out organizational goals
  2. Research which platforms to use
  3. Define your strategy 
  4. Define your social media goals

Also see: Paid Search (and other forms of Paid Promotion)

What to Know

Let’s get one thing clear for certain, social media is not free to businesses. What do I mean? It takes time, dedication, and commitment from someone inside an organization for social media plans to flourish. Even if your organization only uses social media as a validation tool to show who you are and what you do, information needs to be updated on a regular basis. Some organizations have full-time dedicated employees specializing in social media.

If you don’t have a member in your team who can be dedicated full-time to social media, then map out time in your schedule weekly to maintain it. Did I mention social media is also not maintenance free? You need someone to update it frequently and create content for posts. This could be anything from relevant information to customers, what’s occurring at your organization or content from blogs.

Look at the graph below on MarketingCharts.com from Social Media Marketing University – 60% of respondents indicated content development as their biggest investment of time with social media. A lot of time and energy has to be spent on social media to make it successful.

 

Choosing the Right Social Media Channels

Social media channels should serve to enhance your messaging. You know your organization better than anyone outside of it, so choose social channels to fit your brand’s personality and best serve to meet your goals. Just because there are many different platforms doesn’t mean you should be on all of them. Think about which platforms your audience spends most of its time using and how you want to engage them -this is where mapping out both your organizational and social media goals will be important.

Facebook = I like and my social life: Think of Facebook as a place to share interest with friends. Your friends are your organization’s customers. What do they like about you or your products/services and how can they be more engaged in that. Because Facebook was the first social media platform there are many users from different demographics.

Twitter = I am: Twitter is a great place to share thoughts on trending topics, some funny and some serious. You can use Twitter to gain awareness, share insights, and connect to topics that are related to your organization. Customers can follow your every word and share it with others through their accounts. Twitter users like keeping up with trends.

Instagram = awesome visuals: Instagram allows you to get a little more creative in your social media use because it uses photos to get messages across. You can add captions and comments but the key is capturing the attention of users through a great visual that makes sense to your organization. Instagram attracts many young users.

Pinterest = how to’s and life hacks: Offer helpful content on your Pinterest account to make customer’s lives easier. Looking at the table below, Home Depot offers ideas for gifts, projects, and home decor. All of these things can be done at Home Depot but they’re giving consumers ideas that make gift giving, home projects and decor easier.

Google+ = leveraging Google products/reach a specific audience: Google+ is an interesting mash-up of Facebook and Twitter. Google+ users are more into technology and favor that this social media platform isn’t used by everyone. If you’re using other Google products, like Google Analytics, there will be easy cohesion between them.

LinkedIn = my skills and professional life: Every business should have a LinkedIn account to serve as a medium to show the work you do. Examples of  past work, history of your organization, and content related to what you do should be included in a LinkedIn profile. Many organizations use LinkedIn as a great career page and offer job listings to seekers. It can also serve as a sales medium to prospect and maintain business relationships. Anyone can publish on LinkedIn, which makes it a great tool for creating content centered around professional advise, team and workplace functionality, and other organizational related topics.

Social Media at its Best​

FacebookPinterestInstagram
   
Twitter
 
Google +
 
LinkedIn
 

Creating a Social Media Plan

There are two points in which you could start planning your social media plan. One option is to start aligning your organization’s goals with your social media strategy. This option is for anyone who knows for sure what social media platforms they wish to use. What do you hope to accomplish? Will your social media serve as a campaign builder? These and more are questions you have to ask yourself in order to create a successful social media platform. The second option is to conduct research on which platforms are best for your organization, then align goals with strategy.

Mapping out your organizational goals starts with knowing why you want to enter the social media marketing space. Is it because it’s what everyone, including your competitors, is doing? Do you want to reach your audience in a different way? Are you planning on using social media to run campaigns? All of these questions determine how your strategy will look in the coming steps. Think about Home Depot’s “You can do it, we can help” stance. Their slogan reflects their Pinterest page. You have projects or need ideas -here’re some ways to get started.

Research which platforms work best for your organization. You wouldn’t go out and buy thousands of dollars worth of software for your organization without doing your research. Treat social media platforms the same way. Buffer’s blog states it well, “You don’t have to be on them all—just the ones that matter to you and your audience.” There’s plenty of research on which platforms are used heavily by specific demographics, including race, age, and gender.

Defining your social media goals is different from defining your organizational goals. Do you want to inform consumers, entice them to purchase, or increase awareness -all factors in how your strategy will look. This sets the precedent for any content posted and any future campaigns your company may want to run. It’s a good idea to take a look at what others have been doing with their social media. For example, Dove has had successful social media campaigns. Their “Real Beauty” campaign wasn’t about their products but our perception of beauty -proving social campaigns are just as impactful as product centered campaigns. Check out Dove’s “Legacy Campaign” on their Twitter page.

After you know your goals and which platforms you want to use, you can begin developing your strategy. Your strategy involves content you’d like to post, scheduling posts, and any potential campaigns to run through social media. Your content should be well thought out and planned. It doesn’t always have to be creative. Your content could be tips to help customers with something related to your product or service or similar articles or links to other content.

Also see: Everything You Need to Know About Marketing Automation

Social media can be a big asset to an organization when it’s used the right way but it takes time, knowing your goals, choosing the right mediums, and strategizing to make it successful.