How to Build a Year-Long Plan for Social Success
Do you have a plan... or are you flying by the seat of your pants?
When business owners first think about social media, it’s often from a micro-perspective... on a granular case-by-case basis.
They often think about which hashtags might work best, what particular type of post might lead get more attention, or one that could go viral and skyrocket their businesses. Basically, they're thinking of one piece of content now instead of thinking strategically about how that piece of content fits into the larger picture.
However, the way to make every action we take in social environments as meaningful as possible is to lay out our forward motions within a dynamic, long-term action plan. In other words, social media moves very quickly, but that absolutely does not mean that we should be impulsive.
Garnering likes, replies, and comments may feed our egos, but are usually not the most important metrics to track when revenue is the end-goal. Each piece of content should be tied to our over-arching business objectives. A plan takes some up-front time to develop, but is invaluable because it allows everything to fall into place and drive your success.
That's all good and well, but how does one go about getting their content house in order? Here's how you can get started:
Simple 5-Step Checklist to Leverage Social This Year:
- clearly define your audience
Social media is often not approached carefully from the outset. It’s common for a business to set up Twitter, Facebook, and other social accounts, and then either post to them inconsistently or haphazardly without putting much thought into messaging.
As with any aspect of business, growing on social media requires a cohesive plan and a clear message.
The first step in plan development is to create a client persona or avatar. By speaking directly to your ideal client, you can specifically create content that appeals to them. Then, Shortstack notes, “decide which social platforms you want your business to be on, along with what content should be shared via each.”
- Audit Your social accounts
Just as you might take inventory of your supplies or products, you want to take stock of where your social networks now stand. You want to know who is currently engaging with you, what networks are most popular among your intended audience, and what you might be doing differently from other companies in your industry.
Does this sound challenging? Let’s make it simple. Here’s a Social Media Audit Template from Hootsuite to organize this project.
This audit should give you a general idea of your various accounts, who is responsible for management, and what function they play. This is a “living” document that you should periodically review.
If your audit uncovers any fake accounts, now is the time to notify the applicable network that they’re bogus so no one steals your social thunder.
Plus, it’s time for individualized mission statements – one-sentence statements containing your primary objective for each network. Be careful when creating these nutshell guidelines; they can be powerful.
Evan LePage provides this example of a good mission statement: “We will use Snapchat to share the lighter side of our company and connect with younger prospect customers.”
- Work specifically on listening
Social media is often used as a soapbox – but it’s just as much a question-and-answer session or a roundtable discussion.
What are other businesses and consumers saying about you and how can you respond? Developing the capacity to listen is critical to building a bigger audience and controlling your reputation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere.
Listening isn't only about trying to gauge your own brand presence on social but also the conversation industry-wide. Plus… everyone is doing it (or should be). Take a look at these stats highlighted by Adweek:
79% of social media marketers reported that they check social media for any references to their brand multiple times weekly.
73% responded that they scan social media for discussion related to their segment multiple times weekly.
- Step back and recalibrate
We mentioned above that your plan is a live document. That’s in part because your strategy should be constantly developing as you learn more about what is and is not effective.
Sometimes you have to slow things down – in part because it’s necessary for experimentation. For instance, the marketers at Shortstack stopped posting at all to Facebook for a full week; then they started posting again, but at a more infrequent clip: just 1-2 times each day rather than the 3-5 posts that had become their regular pace.
The reason this tactic can sometimes be a strong choice is that it helps you determine if your audience doesn’t like your posts or if, perhaps, they just aren’t seeing them.
In this case, Shortstack specifically wanted to know if they were overdoing activity and the Facebook algorithm was, in turn, limiting their reach to people who had previously engaged with them.
“By cutting back to posting once or twice daily—or not at all for one entire week—we thought Facebook would show our content, when we did decide to post, to a new, larger audience of our fanbase,” Shortstack explained. This suspicion was proved incorrect, but they were only able to learn that by decelerating and reconsidering their approach.
- Put together a content plan and editorial calendar
It’s also important to build an overall content marketing plan, from which you can derive specific pieces and elements to add to your editorial calendar.
Your content plan should include the kinds of content you want to post (not just social posts but also blog content), the regularity with which you will post to each platform, target users for all post types, the individual charged with every piece’s creation, and what you plan to do for promotion.
We love using CoSchedule as our editorial calendar, and this piece describes how their platform now has built-in functionality to designate content types.
Need a head-start creating your plan?
Ready to start attracting your ideal clients, building relationships, and gaining trust through your marketing efforts? We've put together free tips and tools to help you do just that! Want some?