There are plenty of businesses out there who are confident enough to handle their social media management tasks.
Unfortunately, not all businesses can do social media effectively — and more often than not, it’s due to the absence of a plan.
Speaking from experience, there’s a world of difference between managing social media accounts for businesses and using social media for, say, personal or leisure purposes.
Perhaps the simplest yet most profound difference between the two lies in how these social media platforms are used; while users can basically post anything they want to on their social media profiles without the restrictions of sticking to a specific theme or aiming to complete a set of objectives, businesses should ideally be posting updates and managing their accounts with an end goal in mind.
Social media marketing for businesses involves so much more than simply signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account, uploading a picture of your logo alongside a list of your services, and then sharing just about anything you feel like posting about.
That’s why it’s important to develop a social media management action plan — whether you’re a business aiming to manage your own social media accounts or a social media manager or consultant aiming to be proficient at the tasks the job entails, you’ll find this guide comprehensive and easy to remember (and ideally, helpful as well).
1. Determine why you’re on social media in the first place.
Are you simply looking to increase your fanbase or spread awareness about your brand? Are you aiming to reach out directly to clients who might be interested in your services? What do you want to get out of all of this? Additionally, setting objectives will help you be able to effectively measure how successful your social media efforts are.
Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that an astronomical number of likes, retweets, or shares automatically mean better ROI. These are what we call vanity metrics – while they’re pretty to look at, they don’t really mean much in terms of moving your business closer towards achieving your objectives.
Instead, your efforts should be focused on other metrics that have a direct effect on your business objectives, such as total number of clicks, lead generation, and conversions.
2. Figure out which social media platforms are the best for your brand.
There are a number of things to consider when deciding on which social media platforms the business should be active on. These include the kinds of services you offer, the types of people who can be classified as your target audience, users who talk about your brand on social media sites, and how well your competitors are doing on social media.
You can determine the answers to all of these items by conducting a social media audit for the brand. This is especially helpful for brands that already have existing social media accounts, as you can use historical data to identify trends, emphasize what works, and work on fixing what doesn’t.
After you’ve taken a look at your stats, it’s time to decide which platform to focus your social media efforts on. You may also want to consider which platforms are ideal for the nature of your services. For example, a business that relies on visuals or aesthetics, such as an online clothing store or a flower shop, would greatly benefit from using image-sharing sites, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
3. Start creating your social media accounts (or optimizing your existing ones).
Once you’ve identified where you should be putting the brunt of your social media marketing efforts into, it’s time to set up (or improve) your accounts!
Start signing up for your chosen platforms if you haven’t already, and work on filling them up with relevant information to help your target audience learn more about you. Here’s a useful guide to creating effective professional social media profiles by HootSuite that you might want to check out.
Keep in mind, however, that audiences vary depending on the social media platform in question. Additionally, it would be in your best interests to optimize your social media profiles for search engines to bring more traffic to your accounts and/or your website.
4. Create your social media content strategy.
The effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts greatly depends on your content — what you publish, when you publish it, and how you share it. This is where the “action” part of your social media management action plan really comes in.
Your content marketing plan — which includes your editorial calendar, posting plan, and content curation and creation strategies, among others — must take into account whether or not your planned content is indeed well-suited for your target audience.
It must also contain a concrete strategy that outlines when you will create your own content and when you will share content from other sources. Lastly, think about the kind of image you want to project, and make sure that it’s reflected in your content consistently.
For your content, you might want to consider following the 80/20 rule. Majority of your content should feature topics that would prove to be interesting to your audience, with only a fifth of your efforts geared towards self-promotion.
Meanwhile, your posting plan should provide specifics on the frequency of your posts (Do you want to post daily? Every two days? Every Friday?) and the time of day when your posts will appear.
Still need additional tips on planning content for your social media accounts? Moz has some great guidelines on planning your content marketing strategy for your social media accounts.
5. Run with it!
You’ll only really know if your plan is effective after you’ve run it and observed how well (or poorly) it did. Implement your strategy and give it about a month or two, recording all of your accomplishments, challenges, and failures along the way.
After you’ve gathered the information you need, you can easily identify which areas you need to work on, which parts of your strategy you might need to change, and which ones are working perfectly. You may even find it necessary to adjust your goals if you feel like there are more things you can (or should) be accomplishing with your strategy.
The Road to Crafting an Effective Social Media Management Plan
Drafting your social media management plan is a lot like taking a road trip. Pack your bags and get ready to go on an adventure in social media strategy planning!
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.