Social Media Planning

Ugh!  I admit it. Social media leaves me cold.  I am aware of the benefits and have read the statistics.  Apparently we spend more time these days engaged with Facebook, Twitter and the other forms of social media than we do with email.   The trend in social media is going mobile.  People prefer engaging through their tablets and their smart phones than with their personal computers (once thought to be the ultimate in small computing machines). In other words, we are constantly engaging our world electronically, and no one is looking back.

Like the dinosaur, I feel that my marketing methods–messaging well, creating great products and fair pricing, offering services and products in appropriate geographies–are going extinct in business success.  We have access to a mind-bending array of statistics across the Internet.  We live in “virtual” offices, with paychecks that are automatically deposited in banks we don’t bother to visit.  There seems to be no need for the human being in this more efficient than lightning world.  My choice is to join the party or get off the boat. I’ll choose to join.

Can you help?

I want to build good social media plans with my clients.  I don’t want them to be overwhelmed by the overabundance of choices and time requirements in building on-line presence.  Where do you think small businesses should start in this 24-7 world we now live in?

Goals

As always, I think its important to start with goals and a vision for success.  I’m thinking my clients should have goals that are focused on readership rather than sales.  That, like public relations, messages out should be clear and consistent, while we also want to track what others may be saying about us in the online world.  What’s our reputation? Our branding?

We will also want to be targeting appropriately.  In the old days we’d say, “what are the demographics” we’re targeting?  Now, we say “what personas are we looking for?”

Measurements

As with any good goal, measuring success will be important.  I know we’ll want increases in readers, but other than slipping into our website dashboards, where will we find “hits” and “click-through” stats?  How often will it be important to measure these?  What will we truly be able to garner in terms of information vs. data?

Opportunities

There are so many forms of social media anymore I feel like I’m standing at ground zero of the World Trade Center and wondering where to begin cleaning up.  I want to keep plans for my clients as simple as possible.  I still believe in the K.I.S.S. principle.  My general idea is to start with a good web site.  Everyone needs these anymore.

From the web I’ll have them focus, I think, on Facebook.  At over 100 billion minutes a month going to this behemoth in the social media world, even a small play there will help my clients a lot. I know it’s incredibly easy to lose hours in Facebook time, so I think I’ll ask my clients to spend about 10 to 15 minutes a day in this.  Yes, I have heard that the time of day you engage is important, but we’re taking baby steps here. Making room for an hour and fifteen minutes every week is a lot to ask someone who’s scrambling to build a deck, fill a tooth, correct a spinal alignment.  My clients have good work to do, so asking them to “play” in social media has to have significance to their work.

Messaging

I understand why “content managers” have sprung up all over.  We used to call such people public relations managers. But in those old days, a story sent weekly with company “news” worked.  Sometimes a paper would print the story, sometimes they wouldn’t.  Sometimes it depended on the relationship a business built with a news outlet.  Now, every individual has a public voice, and he or she is using it.  We live in a worldwide marketplace and everyone is shouting “look at me!”

For my clients, they’ll have to join in the morass, but I hope they will develop clear voices of expertise and not the swirling sound of news items like “today, I brushed my teeth and ate lunch at my favorite restaurant.” This takes planning again.  Thank goodness we’re moving away from a conscious “key-word focused” form of messaging and back to the importance of speaking when you have something to say.  The challenge is what makes a good topic.  Here are some ideas I have.  If you want to add to my list, I’d appreciate the input:

  • Big news for the company–new hires, large client acquisitions, mergers, etc.
  • Social news – this is more like a gossip column, but the human interest can’t be underestimated.  I hope we can write-up staff profiles, let people know when someone succeeds in an outside interest, and generally build the people up within my clients’ world into real people you can care about.
  • Subject matter expertise — it seems that everyone likes “how-to” articles.  I hope I can get my clients to walk me through some of these.
  • Think pieces–the post you’re reading is a think piece.  This area of writing also includes anything that a person might find on the op-ed pages of a newspaper.

I’ve probably missed some categories, but I think this makes a good start. What do you think?  When I put this into a content calendar, hopefully the task won’t be too daunting.

Sheesh. Social media is very daunting, but I don’t plan on being a virtual wall flower any more.

Bee Bit ImageTODAY’S BEE BIT

“You can attract bees by planting wildflowers, fruits and vegetables, letting your yard grow a little wild, and providing water and shelter for bees.” Thanks to WikiHow for today’s bee bit.

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