Without a plan in life and in work, you don’t know where you’re going and, unfortunately, that’s where you’ll end up. Social media marketing is no different; you need a plan. You need an over-all plan and a day-to-day plan.
And, when it comes to those plans, they must be plans that you can execute with the resources you have, including time. Let me tell you about our 30 Minutes Of Twitter.
“30 Minutes of Twitter” is the name we give our social media day-to-day plan, but it isn’t really an accurate name. It’s not just Twitter and it may or may not be 30 minutes. Our plan is meant to connect larger social media goals with specific daily goals that help us get there. We do this with a few key principles, a few of which will explain the reason for the name.
1. The Big Goal
Before you can plan your day-to-day social media goals, decide what your over-all social media goal is. Is it increased blog traffic? New leads? Sales? Fans?
Whatever it is, big goals make it easier to set the smaller goals that help us achieve it. They let us know if we’re still on track, by helping us decide if an action will get us to the big goal or distract from it. For example, are you looking for more blog traffic? Then you’ll need to focus on writing excellent blog posts with SEO in mind. You’ll need to find other places to share your blog posts and writing to attract new fans. You’ll need to share your blog posts on social media in ways that bring people back to your site to read your content. Your plan will have to be tailored to meeting that larger goal.
Your Turn: What do you hope to accomplish through social media?
2. Break It Down
Now that you have your overall goal, you must plan the smaller daily goals you’ll take to get there. Be very specific in what you’ll do every day. We want to build traffic and buzz for our brand, and have a list we follow daily that looks a bit like this:
- Publish blog post. Schedule email with blog post the day after it is published.
- Complete associated social media steps for all new blog posts.
- Fill TodayLaunch queue (interesting posts, old blog posts).
- Respond to incoming social media throughout the day.
- Respond personally to TodayLaunch support requests.
- Monitor brand mentions and competitors. Get involved in relevant discussions on blogs and forums.
Step two has its own list:
- After publishing a new blog post, share to our social networks and outside sources.
- Tweet it with a “New Post” designation.
- Schedule it to Tweet the next day (“Did you miss it?”), three days later (ask in the form of a question) and five days later (with pull-out quote or comment).
This is what we set up. Your list(s) will be different. You know the frequency your fans prefer, and what you’re able to handle. You have your own social media preferences; make them intentional for every day, and then do them.
Your Turn: What social media preferences will work for you?
3. Consider Your Time
The name “30 Minutes Of Twitter” suggests an important element you must consider: time.
We all have a lot to do and limited time to do it. When it comes to social media, we need to adhere to the principles of genuine conversation, follow-through, and great content. That doesn’t mean it should take all day. It’s easy to find hours have gone by and you’re still on Facebook. Unless you job is that of solely being a social media manager and nothing else, you probably have other work that needs to get done and you need to have an exit plan.
A defined start and stop keeps you from being trapped inside social media. You might revisit social media throughout the day in order to keep on top of it, but it’s done in a timely manner. A social media plan that doesn’t allow for other necessary work to happen is a poor plan.
Your Turn: How much time do you have to devote each day to social media?
4. Know Your Networks
In creating our plan, we had to consider the different networks, and how they are used differently. For example, we probably won’t post the same link repeatedly on Facebook while we might run it several times on Twitter. Content with strong visuals gets posted to Pinterest.
Each network functions differently. Don’t plan to bombard all networks as if they were the same.
Your Turn: What networks do you plan on using? What are their best practices?
5. Broaden Your Definition of Social Network
Our social media marketing isn’t just reserved for Facebook and Twitter. Our blog, our online customer service, and our participation on other’s blogs and forums also counts as social media. Blog posts can be shared with outside sources by RSS or by manually submitting them for guest blogging consideration. This natural online participation also requires planning if you want consistency and success.
For example, we’ve come up with methods to brainstorm snappy headlines, and we plug those into a spreadsheet that allows us to assign a blog post to different team members. We track which blogs we’re guest posting on, and when. Planning your blogging content for a month at a time isn’t a bad idea; there’s always room to adjust for announcements or other hot topics, but having a headline to start with early Monday morning is a god-send. It gets the momentum started for the week.
Plan your blog. Plan your guest posting. Plan your participation on other sites. Plan how you’ll respond to customers. It’s all part of social media.
Your Turn: What are you doing to network outside of the social networks?
6. The Right Tools
Find the tools and software that can help you achieve what you’ve planned within your budget. There are many options for you to choose from. Consider what your goals are, the time you have to dedicate to social media, and what your team is able to do to help.
We created TodayLaunch, a social media dashboard, because we wanted an app that didn’t trap us in social media. We needed a fast and simple tool that worked with our task-oriented plan of being able to read, respond, and move on to our other work by archiving what we’d responded to. It also needed to have queue and schedule options as well as live publishing. It needed to be clean and fast.
You can see how your plan and budget will affect which social media tools you decide to use. Choose what works for you best in your plan.
Your Turn: What qualities are you looking for in your social media dashboard? What tools will you need for your plan?
Work Your Plan
Only with a plan will you know what success looks like, and if you’re making progress. Work your plan every day. Being consistent is vital to social media, and it isn’t just going to happen if you don’t plan for it to happen. The more you work your plan, the more it becomes a habit.
Remember, social media is an adventure. Have a map for the road, and then use it.