Ready – Aim – Launch Your Social Media Program!
If you’ve just dropped in here and didn’t read my last post on the 5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself BEFORE you Jump into Social, then I highly recommend you stop reading this and hop back over there to get up to speed on the prep work needed to build a simple, but effective social media marketing plan.
If you followed my advice in previous post, then you are:
- Your S.M.A.R.T. goals are defined
- Your target audience is characterized
- Your brand persona and voice are refined
- Your competitors, influencers and potential partners are identified
- Your social and mobile-friendly website has launched
Choose which social networks are right for you.
Many companies assume that they have to be on the top 5 social networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+) in order to be everywhere their customers/prospects are. But that is not the wisest decision for two reasons:
- The biggest isn’t always the best.
James Scherer over at WishPond did a great job analyzing six major social media networks and recommended the types of businesses that fit best within each network.
Compare his advice with what you know about your target audience and where they engage with companies they like (not just friends and family);
Check out your competition and potential partners and see how they’re performing in their networks as well.
- Managing 5 social networks effectively takes a lot of time.
If have limited resources, 2 networks are about as much as you can probably handle especially at the beginning. Choose wisely and focus on quality growth and engagement. Once you’ve established a beachhead in the first couple of networks, you can branch out from there.
Create a content calendar for all your networks
Now I bet you’re thinking, “Why would I worry about content when I don’t even have my social accounts set up?” And my answer would be, “Because finding/choosing/creating content is often the toughest part for social media marketers. And once your social networks are up and running you want to feed them quickly; you don’t want to waste time sitting in front of your computer thinking, “Now what do I say?”
Start planning content out at least 6 months and use a content calendar to organize everything. Kevan Lee at Buffer did a great blog post about content calendars that I highly recommend you read. It gives good examples of calendars, templates and plugins, plus tips on different kinds of content to post.
Start by filling key observances such as awareness days, holidays, seasons, family days, business and industry events into your calendar. These will help you structure your plan so you never miss an opportunity to capitalize on a special event/day.
Remember that a content calendar is a living thing that may change as current events impact news in your industry or as your business evolves. The important thing is that you should never have a time where you are sitting staring at a blank computer screen wondering what to type.
Here are some tips to make content creation easier.
Choose your social account names
This is where you need to plan big, but implement small. Choosing your social media username/handle isn’t always as easy as you think. Just like URLs, people grab them up like crazy and then just park them for future use.
I recommend you consider doing the same. Use a tool like NameChk to test out usernames to see if they are available across all the social networks you think you might someday join. Once you find one that is available and relevant for you, reserve it on all your current and future social networks.
Set up your account profiles
It’s pretty straightforward setting up most accounts and profiles on the big social networks; they pretty much walk you through the process now. The important thing is to be consistent in terms of your profile descriptions, imagery, brand presentation, messaging, etc.
There are some great resources online to help you set up your sites (or contact me if you need a little help getting started). For example, check out this social media cheat sheet – a great infographic to make sense of the constantly changing world of social media image sizes.
Organize your networks
Remember those influencers, partners and competitors you analyzed when preparing to develop your social media plan? You need to find a way within your social networks to keep track of what they are doing, quickly and easily.
Twitter lists are a useful way to segment people you follow into public or private groups. I keep my competitors in private groups so they don’t know I’m “watching them”. Facebook has interest lists that you can add pages to as well.
As your social presence grows it is really important to separate the wheat from the chaff early so those minutes a day you spend on social are the most productive. Start building lists early and continue to manage them as you grow.
Now you’re ready to start following, posting and engaging. I’ll give you some tips on how to simplify those activities in my next blog post.
And remember, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.