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How to Make a Social Media Plan for Your Business

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How to Make a Social Media Plan for Your Business

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: August 22, 2012 Updated: March 7, 2013

Online buzz about social media for business owners seems to be moving from “Should I” to “How do I?” I’ve been working on this a lot lately as part of my work on planning, and I’ve developed this process for a specific social media plan for small business:

Start with strategy

Define how your social media serves your business. Usually that’s in the marketing area of the business related to branding and awareness at the top of the marketing funnel, but it can also be focused on other business functions. For example, airlines are using Twitter for customer service, food trucks are using it for delivery by tweeting locations, and consultants use follower and like counts to validate their expertise.

Strategy is focus, so you need to sort through the different social media options. Community management expert Megan Berry of LiftFive in New York says, “Facebook tends to be more personal, so if a product is fun and consumer oriented, then Facebook is really good. Twitter has the advantages of public searches, and business searches, so you can see how much a given topic matters. Google+ is mostly techies, photography, and people who work at Google.” I think of LinkedIn as more about careers than specific businesses, and Pinterest as great for photo collections. You can’t do it all and the fastest road to failure is trying to please everybody, or do anything.

For purposes of illustration, my examples in the rest of this post focus on Twitter and use the terminology of Twitter. That’s just to make the narrative easier to follow.

Add specific tactics

The strategy means nothing without specific tactics. In social media that means making some practical decisions. For sake of illustration, imagine a manufacturer of environmentally better construction materials selling to a local market looking at Twitter. Here are some tactics to work through:

  • What accounts to follow: In our example, of course we’d follow people tweeting about homes, green construction, construction materials, architecture, and the building industry. Maybe also small business, small business management, and local business. Gardening, landscape architecture? We should also follow people representing the old-fashioned methods our green construction replaces, and yes, all of our competitors. And we’d definitely want to follow industry leaders, the best blogs, and media people for our industry.
  • What content to tweet and retweet: In our example we’d tweet about green building, construction, architecture, and homes for sure, to build a content stream that would attract like-minded people. We’d probably also tweet about local events, local businesses, and local people to attract local connections. But we would never offer content promoting the old-fashioned ways or our competition. We would set up programmed searches for hashtags like #green and #greenbuilding, #homes, and #greenhomes.  (Hashtags are a Twitter feature people use to aid searching for topics. People offering content include them in their tweets, so people searching can find them).
  • What to watch out for: We should set up searches to catch any mention of us especially, of course. Also, mentions of our competitors, substitutes or competing products, and (as much as possible) local building issues.
  • When to reach out: We’d want to watch for media people and issues that could create media opportunities for us, like interviews with the founder, or reviews in blogs or trade magazines. Reaching out in Twitter means either tweets mentioning specific handles or direct messages to specific people.
  • How to reach out: We’d want to reach out correctly and respectfully, only for specific cases and specific people. Direct messages should ever look or feel or act like spam.

Add Specific Metrics, Milestones, and Tracking

Your strategy and tactics are of no use without concrete specific steps, measurements, and tracking.

In our Twitter-oriented green construction materials example, we’d want set objective and trackable numeric targets for how many:

  • accounts to follow
  • new follows to add each month
  • tweets per day, week, and month
  • retweets to send
  • retweets we want to receive
  • followers we expect to add per month
  • leads we should get
  • web visits tracking from our tweets, retweets, and Twitter profile 

And for our review meetings, we’d want to start with actual numbers for each of these measurements. Then we’d review these results and discuss changes to the metrics, tactics, and strategy.

And that, all together, is a plan.

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 44 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including The Plan As You Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press, 2008.

Comments:

i like this part "Your strategy and tactics are of no use without concrete specific steps, measurements, and tracking." really inspirative.
Social media is very important for business, I think the most important is facebook I think could make us a better perception of the product with a good picture. Thank you very much for your article This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing this great suggestions about Social Media business plans...
Tim, Great suggestions. As someone who specializes in small business SEO with The SEO System, I can tell you that most small businesses DO NOT have a social media action plan. I especially love your advice as it mirrors that which we provide in our solution :) Cheers, Richard
Of the largest right, I'll try to take into account.
If you have different social networks synced such as Facebook and Twitter make sure it’s not resulting in embarrassing redundancies.
thanks for your sharing. I have used linked in for my business. The problem using social media is there is lot of fake account, so sometimes we only get useless marketing.
Social Media's advantage to an online business is that it provides the traffic for the business websites. But the disadvantage is that the traffic can either be targeted or not for the business. You cannot also say that when you have a good traffic from social media sites, you have a good strategy. Sometimes you have to also see where is the traffic coming from - are there conversions? - or just mere traffic that landed a page and went out without any other actions within your website?
Nice tips for strategy, tactics and measurement. Measuring the strategy is key to determine the success of the social media campaign, but often overlooked. Some good tactical social media tools for small business owners include TweetDeck and FollerWonk. :)
Yes,; I would agree that LinkedIn is more for people in search of careers. Twitter and Facebook should always be used as part of your online marketing.

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