07/19/12

Social Media is Like Exercise

by Melissa Woodson

You know you should. You even want to. But it’s hard to know where to start.

What are you supposed to do? And how often? And where? And when? With so many questions to consider, just getting started is overwhelming.

Most people know they need to be doing social media, but they’re intimidated by it -- and with good reason. We’ve all seen numerous social media accounts that seem to simply exist -- floating around out there in the interwebs -- but don’t have a real impact or following. Like those early workout efforts, these pages fall flat, and while well-intentioned, end up forgotten.

This is where it helps to have a plan. After all, you can’t get where you want if you don’t know where you’re going. Taking the time to identify your options, audiences, resources and goals gives you a roadmap of sorts and takes some of the guesswork out of the social media mystery.

Here’s where your plan comes in.

Discovery

Before you even create your social media accounts, take some time to think about why you want to do social media and how it will benefit your clients. Consider not just the channels available, but whether or not your target audience is using them. This is also the time to start thinking about what you hope to gain from social media as well as the resources you have to manage it.

You’ll also want to take some time to explore the conversations that are already happening in the online space and figure out how you can best interact with your potential audiences. Think about not only how you’ll contribute, but also how you’ll engage with people in your chosen channels. Speaking of which -- choose your channels wisely. It doesn’t make sense to have a Facebook account if your audience is most active on Twitter.

Goal Setting

Once you have identified the “why” behind your social media efforts, set some goals for your new channels. You’ll want to include a list of specific, measurable objectives for your social media activities along with a plan for success metrics. After all, it’s hard to measure your ROI if you don’t identify how you will measure success.

Create a timeline and set milestones. Then, measure! Regular check-ins to see how your channels are performing keep you accountable and make sure you’re not wasting your time. If you aren’t meeting your goals, figure out why and adjust from there.

Engagement Plan

Next, you’ll want to create your actual plan for EACH CHANNEL you plan to use. I cannot emphasize this enough, as social media is not a “one size fits all” effort. You’ll need a detailed plan that includes your purpose, audience and goals as well as your messaging, implementation and measurement strategies. Being specific here may seem like a lot of work, but it’s the best way to ensure success.

Make sure you pay specific attention to the implementation piece. Think about the day to day -- how will you develop your content and moderate responses? How will you monitor your success? How soon will you re-evaluate your strategy? Don’t forget to include a plan for promoting your channels, too. If no one knows they exist, your efforts won’t be worthwhile.

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With a clear plan in place, you set yourself up for success with social media (& exercise!). Social media does take work, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll enjoy great rewards.

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Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, a Master of Laws offered through Washington University in St. Louis that is considered a premier  LLM in US Law. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and blogging at her personal blog.<

Twitter: @HungryHealthyMJ | Website: HungryHealthyMJ.com

 


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