Tag Archive | research

Social Media: How to start your social media plan

Social Media Chalkboard PlanIf you are reading this, you are convinced that having social media as part of your business strategy is something that needs to be taken seriously, and soon. (You did read my last blog, right?  Social Media: Getting started – Research). 

So now what?  “Just build something and let’s see how it goes” – NOT what I would suggest, for various reasons.  I know many of you (probably all of you) are struggling with finding time to deal with current day-to-day operations let alone add in a new initiative – BUT – as you move forward, this exercise of developing a social media plan will save you time, money and potentially your company’s reputation in the near and far future.

Social media can quickly take a lot of your resources (primarily time) so you want to make sure they are being used effectively, you need to have guidelines put in place for your employees, and you will want this to be positioned so that it supports your overall business strategy.  At the end of the day you need to measure your ROI (Return on Investment) to not only justify your expenditures, but to motivate and guide you throughout.

Write it down –   It is so tempting to just ask your manager/tech-savvy employee to design a Facebook page  and start posting  store ‘stuff’, but if you want to get real results, you need to have a plan written down and reference it regularly to make sure you are still on track.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy;  however, if you have the resources, calling in someone trained in communications with social media experience will save you time putting the plan together and  they will be able to offer you some advice on best-practices.  If you choose to have them assist in implementation and training, make sure that their price is included in your budget as an option for you to review. (Budget coming up in our next blog).

  • What does success look like to you?  – Objectives must be clear, realistic and measurable.  Set milestones, expected results, and  how you will evaluate at the end of a certain period.  Create short-term and long-term goals.   If  it is customer engagement (i.e. to build an audience for your business) then ‘LIKES’ to a Facebook page could be included.  Are you looking to promote a new product?  Then measure the number of mentions, sentiment toward the product and increase in purchases directly related to traffic from your social media sites (i.e. short survey at time of purchase) could be part of your objectives.
  • What social media sites to target?  – This is where your research notes come in handy (you did make notes after the last blog, right?).   Location, Location, Location – is the famous retailers phrase for success and it is not so different here.  You need to be where your customers are, be involved with their online conversations, and make sure you have a call to action so they know where to find you and how to buy from you.  Monitor these sites for opportunities to respond to any negative conversations to keep your reputation in tact.  If a customer has a complaint, and they are active online, they will most likely share that complaint with MANY people through their online networks.  If you are monitoring these networks you can respond in a timely fashion.  This is now an opportunity!  It will give you a chance to show exceptional service and turn that complaint into a possible ‘Thank-you”.
  • Policies / Guidelines – Many forward thinking companies encourage their employees to be ambassadors for their company – online and offline.  Because of this, it is well worth the effort to put down some guidelines for your employees to protect your company’s reputation.  If managing content for your social media sites is their job, you will want it to be more thorough since they will be the ‘voice’ of your organization.  No matter what, make it clear on what your expectations are.    “You cannot effectively hold employees accountable for their actions if you are not clear as to what these workers should and shouldn’t be doing”  Jodie Shaw – ActionCOACH.  If you are looking for more information on developing these guidelines, Hearsay Social offers A “How-to” on writing a social media plan and policy that can be downloaded at this link.
  • Get out your calendar!  – Once you know what you want to achieve, so now you need an evaluation period.  Remember, you need time to get your plan started (designed and implemented), your staff trained and then opportunity to get the word out that you have a social media presence, so make sure you pick a reasonable period of time to give this a chance.  In my opinion it has to be at least a twelve month period from the point of having everything online and active.  Use this daily!  But also consider using it in parallel with other business events that involve your targeted stakeholders- Sales, Customer appreciation days, Team Races, Community festivals, Staff birthdays,  monthly Facebook contests (see, now we have potential for even MORE kinds of events now that you are being ‘social’).

These are just a few thoughts to ponder as you work through your plan.  Don’t forget that this is all a work in progress, and you will be learning as you go.  Once you have a basic plan in place the next thing is the (dreaded) budget.  However, it may not be as bad as it seems if you are used to spending high marketing dollars on print  in the past as your primary form of communicating to your customers.

Keep your research & plan notes on hand- you will need these for reference as you build your budget.

Have fun!

Other Social Media Linkswww.delicious.com/lauraldunkley

Sam’s Teach Yourself Facebook in 10 minutes: E-Book review

Recently I purchased a KOBO e-book.  Yes, I balked at this for a long time as I am one that still likes the touch and feel of a good book in my hands.  Having a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor library has been a life long dream, but the reality of it is, e-books just make sense in today’s fast paced, transient and information overloaded business world.  It gives you the ability to carry a very large library with you at all times (very appealing) and for someone who is a compulsive highlighter and note taker, the ability to do it right on the e-book is a bonus.   Not to say that I won’t be giving up all my paper books right away, but I find I am gravitating to the e-book more and more.  What finally convinced me to purchase it?  It was the fact that books were available for me to download immediately from my KOBO account and I save money on shipping.

I have only had the opportunity to read a couple of books, and Sam’s Teach Yourself Facebook in 10 minutes was my first.  The book offers a background to what Facebook is all about, why you should have a Facebook page for your business, and simple step-by-step instructions on how to set up a business page.  The book offers advertising tips, best-practices, how to plan a campaign and links to other related articles.  Of course measurement is key and they touch on how to do this as well.  If you purchase the e-version, it allows for online registration to get updates of the book when they are available.

Overall a very simple and quick read, especially if you are just starting out and need the basics.  If you already have a Facebook page and want more in-depth advice on how to make your page and campaigns more effective, this might be a little light for you.  But don’t pass this off, even if you are experienced, the price is right for this inexpensive reference tool.

So for someone just starting out,  I would give this two-thumbs up.

Price:  Amazon offers it for $14.99,  my KOBO purchase was $8.79

Do you have any other books that were helpful for you as you built your Facebook business page?  Would love to hear from you.

Social Media: Getting started – Research

“I’m just too busy”, “I just don’t understand the technology”, “I haven’t needed it before”, “I will get to it soon”…..

Are these some of the comments that you give to your employees when they suggest that having social media as part of your communication strategy would be beneficial to your business?  If you have a plan, and are running with it, good for you!  This is an ever evolving process and there will be challenges along the way, but at least you see the value in including social media as part of your overall business plan.  If you are a customer-centric B2B compared to a similar B2C business, your plan may look a little different, but the need to include this as part of your communication strategy is still very important.

Here is some information to encourage you to get started, and tips to consider when moving forward into the world of business social media.

Interesting 2011 social media statistics provided by Social Media Examiner:

  • There are now more than 800 million active Facebook users, with over 200 million added in 2011.
  • Over 80% of all Americans use a social network
  • Why are businesses moving towards the use of Social Media?- Connecting with customers, Visibility, Self-promotion
  • 50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn

So are you convinced that you need to get started?  First things first, do your research.

Research Tips

  1. Employees can be your best resource – If you are not tech-savvy, it is most likely that a few of your staff have been using social media personally for many years and will be more than happy to help you get started.  Ask their advice.
  2. Know your customers – Many of your sales people will have ‘front-line’ feedback about your customer’s buying habits, how often your customers use  mobile devices when walking around the store checking prices, and even customer feedback on where and how they spend their on-line time.  Where your customers are (online platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), there you should be also.
  3. Competition – See what your competitors are doing.
  4. Industry Support – Do any of your industry groups, or brands offer marketing support for your development of social media in your business?
  5. More information – There are more books and online articles available for your reading pleasure, but this can get quite overwhelming considering the technology and development of this field of business is constantly evolving.  But if you are interested, check out My BlogRoll for more links to blogs & articles on the subject.
  6. Outside help – There are many marketing and public relations consultants and agencies that are experts in the area of social media and digital marketing.   Limited budget?  Look for a recent graduate looking to develop their portfolio.  A more complex plan, consult a seasoned professional.

Watch out for the next segment – ‘THE PLAN’

Questions/Comments?  Please write below.