HOW TO: Write a Social Media Plan in 4 Steps

It’s probably not news to you that you should have an active presence on social media if you own a business. Research has shown that social media allows you to not only interact directly with your potential customers, but it also allows businesses to gain valuable insights – and it event leads to a profit increase.

But, there are so many social media outlets out there. And your target market isn’t on all of them. So, where do you begin, once you’ve decided to journey into the wild world of social media?

A plan!

Of all people, I understand your eagerness to start tweeting, facebooking, and pinning. I live for this stuff! But, as much as you want to get started right away, you’ll want to have a plan-of-action to ensure that your social media strategy begins and continues in line with your business goals. Social media plans take time and research, but if you’re looking for a quick fix, here are four easy steps to put together a plan to get social.

Step 1: Set a Goal
First up, determine your goals for social media. Are you focusing on growth, raising awareness of your product & services? Looking to give really good customer service? Whatever focus you’d like to keep for your account, set a lofty end goal and write it down. Keep in mind that social media won’t work overnight. (See Social Media is Like Exercise).

Step 2: Choose the Right Medium
After you’ve figured out your goals for social media, find out where your target audience is hanging out. This could be intuitive: if you’re a wedding planner, your constituents are super interested in photographs showing wedding-related products, so they are probably spending some time on visual social media outlets, like Pinterest and Facebook. On the other hand, if you offer legal services, folks are likely searching via text-based outlets, like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Even if you think you know where your target audience spends their time, you may be surprised. Spend a few hours and do some research: read the latest findings from an Internet research firm (Pew Internet, ComScore, and L2 Think Tank are just a few); do a search on some popular social media news outlets, like Mashable or Inc; and poke around on a few outlets where you think you might have some success. Take note of your findings and zero in on the top three or four outlets.

Step 3: Write a Strategy
With your goals and targeted accounts in hand, you can now start thinking through how you will achieve these goals. Start by penning a strategy, creating sections for each social media outlet you plan to utilize. Note how often you plan to post, what keywords and phrases you plan to use (think: hashtags!), and your strategy for responding to inquiries.

Include a plan for tracking your successes: you’ll want to check your analytics on a routine basis to make sure your posts are acheiving your goal. If not, simply rework the posts until you find what works best. 

Step 4: Create a Social Media Calendar
Plan out what you want to post and when, and note who will be responsible for monitoring each account. (Suggestion: put someone who’s really in tune with your brand in charge of running your social media! Interns are not that someone.) 

Now begin! You likely won’t see results from social media right away, but with consistent posts and really great content, you’ll see your engagement take off in no time. Just be sure to refer back to your social media plan constantly to make sure that all posts and interactions tie back to your initial goals.