Maybe it’s because you’re in marketing. Maybe it’s because you’re from the younger generation assumed to be digital natives. Or maybe it’s because you’re already experimenting with social media and your success has been noticed.
For whatever reason, The Powers That Be have chosen you to write your company’s social media plan. Or perhaps they haven’t asked, but you know social media is big and getting bigger, and so you want to write a plan to persuade your management to get involved.
Where do you start?
Here are some ideas on the main topics you need to cover in creating an impressive, yet realistic social media plan that garners executive buy-in and a clearer path to success.
1. Paint The Picture of The Big Opportunity of Social Media
Start your social media plan with some startling statistics and pithy quotes about the huge shift away from traditional publishing towards social media.
If you wrote this plan two years ago, you would have leaned on the endorsement of old media with quotes like this:
“Consumers are flocking to blogs, social-networking sites and virtual worlds. And they are leaving a lot of marketers behind.” – The Wall Street Journal
But now you can tell the big opportunity of social media by just relying on social media’s accomplishments. Include nuggets like:
Add with a flourish a quote or two from a top social media book, such as Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, or The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott.
2. Define Social Media
Because social media is such a nebulous thing for many, you need to put concise parameters on what it is. However, don’t start your plan with the definition of social media because it’s not as exciting as the first section about the big opportunity. Get their attention first, and then you can go Webster on them. Include something like this:
“Social media is user-generated content on the internet. It’s created with free or inexpensive technology, is easy to update, and can reach a niche audience or millions. It can be mere words in a blog, but also user-generated videos, photos, and audio. It can be interactive with unfiltered comments from visitors. And as user-generated content, it does away with controls associated with traditional media – and most of all, it removes the need for big media.”
3. List Tangible Business Goals
If you don’t already have a social media plan, it’s very possible that your top management fears that social media is only a plaything. You have to show them you mean business. Tell them how you will use social media activities to:
You don’t have to promise to do all these things. And preferably your goals will match top management’s goals. But whichever goals you choose, make them attainable, and include a measurement plan. Ask for a grace period (at least several months) for learning and experimentation until you have to start proving tangible results.
4. Plan A Timeline Of Steps
You can’t just push a button and have a full-fledged social media marketing program running full-swing. But management won’t wait forever, either. Give them an idea of what your steps will be, which may include:
Write this timeline of steps on paper, not in stone. This is a working plan that you use every week, and change as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
Because social media revolves around so many free tools, and because it has become the darling of marketing hipsters everywhere, expectations run high. So you also need to help your team understand there’s no guarantee it will be a silver bullet. Tell them things like:
6. Ask for Resources
Getting this plan accomplished will require resources. Don’t be shy, ask for help, be it training, people’s time, or budget to pay for consultants, website hosting fees, a video camera, or useful web applications you later determine you need. Because social media requires near constant attention, tell them you need a laptop with broadband access, and a smart phone with an unlimited web access plan, too.
And ask for something free but priceless: For your top management to share their buy-in with your plan to help you get more cooperation from the rest of your company.
7. Recommend Who Does Social Media For Your Company
The first step of choosing who does social media for your company is deciding between doing it internally, hiring a consultant to do it, or a combination. You can shorten your learning curve with social media consultants who can train you and help identify online communities where your clients already gather. But ultimately, your social media activity really should be done by people who work for your company. It’s just too hard to hire an outsider to be the authentic voice of your company.
Then figure out who does social media within your company. Just remember that while the youngest member of your marketing or customer service team may be the most familiar with social media, they may not be the best choice to represent your company in social media. You want someone who has:
That person, of course, may end up being you.
8. Finish with an Urgent Call to Action
While similar to how you started your plan, you want to finish with some more strident points that create a sense of urgency. End your plan with things like:
Social Media is a vast universe of communities, cultures, and ultimately, for the marketer, choices. I hope these 8 parts of a social media plan will help you to inspire your organization to get engaged with your clients, prospects, and influencers via social media.
Social Media plan done? Check. How about your plan to improve your trade show marketing?
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