Sign up for e-mail below to download your free social media strategy template, then read below for tips for writing a kick-ass social plan.
If you do social media for your business or organization, chances are someone has asked to see your strategy – and chances are you don’t have one written down.
A lot of social media is intuitive, especially if it’s tasked to one person and not an entire team – it can feel like more of an individual project rather than an organization-wide initiative.
Regardless of whether you’re doing social media alone, with a team or are just thinking about getting started, having a strategy mapped out will help you stay focused to achieve your social media goals. Once you’ve subscribed to our emails to download your free social media strategy template, read the 5 W’s and the “how” of writing and following your social media plan.
Despite what you probably learned in school, you need to start with the “why” before you get into the rest of your W’s.
There are way too many brands who embark on social media because “everyone else is doing it.” Before you sign up for your first social account, you need to have a reason for joining that aligns with your key business or organizational goals.
We are starting with the “why” because there is no more important component of your social media strategy than having a clean, 2-3 sentence explanation of why social media will enhance your overall marketing efforts.
The beauty of the “why” is that it will look different for everyone. Social media can be used to introduce new supporters to your organization, connect with journalists and network with other industry professionals.
Like I’ve said before, social media is free, targeted, mass advertising, and you can use advertising to support pretty much anything your organization hopes to accomplish.
For CARE, our “why” might look like this:
CARE is present on more than 7 social media channels to engage with current supporters in meaningful conversations pertaining to women’s empowerment and global poverty, gain exposure among potential supporters, providing them with a platform to get to know CARE in a conversational format, and communicate the important poverty-fighting work we do with mass audiences, including journalists, partners and peer organizations.
If you have any doubts as to the capacity of social media, check out this post that will ensure you never have to justify the impact of these channels again.
Now that you have your “why” you can take a breath. Filling out the rest of your social media strategy template should be a breeze!
With more than a quarter of the world on social media, you’ll have access to pretty much any group of people you want to reach.
Refer to this section of your social media strategy template to describe your ideal audience. If you’re looking to reach consumers or supporters, what gender will they most likely be? Age range? Will they live in a specific region, state or city? Are there any other defining demographic characteristics, like an average household income, religion or ethnicity, purchasing history or proven interest in particular causes?
Or, maybe your audience is much more specific. You may be looking to connect with journalists, business owners or other professionals in your industry. Whoever it is, you can describe them in this section.
Then, figure out where they are. Some basic research will show you high-level patterns on social networks – Facebook is booming among people in their middle age, and U.S. users are likely to be affluent. Twitter skews younger and LinkedIn skews male.
In your social media template, you have space to take these findings and dig deeper. Link to social conversations you want to track that pertain to your issues and your audience. Search Twitter hashtags, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups and Pinterest boards to find groups of enthusiastic people who fit your ideal audience. Use this information to determine which social networks you will focus your efforts on, track the conversations over time, and wait for the opportunity to insert yourself into the space naturally.
Now we get into the meat of your social media strategy. What will you talk about and how will you say it? If you’ve done your job, the audience you’ve selected and your social media statement of purpose will jive nicely with the crux of your business or organization.
In other words, you’ve found the people who want to hear what you have to say.
Social media has a habit of being a bit schizophrenic. If you don’t watch yourself, it’s easy to talk about a lot of things without any focus. Set your spotlight areas now – just don’t treat them as limits. Always allow yourself room to grow and be flexible.
If you’re a nonprofit, this part should be easy. You’ll want to focus on the key issues that you tackle in the field. Use this space to tell the story of your organization and the work you do, as well as educate your audience about your cause as a whole through industry articles, videos and other engaging media.
If you’re a business this is a bit trickier. You want to take advantage of the opportunity to promote your product, but social media audiences don’t like to be marketed to in traditional ways. If you sound too much like a brand, they will quickly unsubscribe to your feeds.
Make sure to balance posts about your products with news and resources relevant to your audience. For example, if you’re selling pet products consider also sharing cute photos and videos of animals, or tips for caring for furry companions. If you run a sporting goods store, share information and photos about outdoor activities and terrain in your area.
In this section you’ll also want to think about your voice. Will you be conversational or formal? Will you take the stance of an educator or a peer to your audience? Indicate whether you’ll be posting as a brand, like CARE, or as human brand representatives, as do some customer service accounts like UPS. Or, maybe you’ll choose to post as an individual, with your name heading the account instead of your brand to add more of a personal touch.
Remember this is just your starting point. When you start posting and interacting with constituents, your voice will evolve organically over time.
Congratulations! You have the core components of your strategy outlined. Now it’s time to get into the gritty details. Social media copy is short by nature – and much of it is designed to encourage your audience to learn more.
To satiate this learning appetite you will create, you’ll want to link to compelling content on your website, blog and other trusted sources. Every successful social media account is more than just a knowledge base – it’s an aggregator of content. On your social media strategy template, list websites, news sources, peers, blogs and media-rich sources where you can find information relevant to your cause, business or other points of interest for your audience.
You’ll also take on the roll of content creator, as social media audiences like to digest information in different formats than your typical web audience. Our social media strategy template includes suggestions of free tools you can use to create and edit images and infographics, and to tell stories. You can also find them here, with suggestions as to how you can use them effectively.
And, just like any productive conversation, make sure you listen as much as you talk. List your peers and competitors’ social accounts and perform a short analysis. What do you like about their strategy that you want to emulate? What would you do differently? Make sure to revisit this section over time as your strategy – and theirs – evolves.
How often will you post? What time of day? What days of the week? There are tons of resources from industry experts suggesting the best times to post on various social networks.
However, every audience reacts differently and is most attentive at different times. Use common sense – if you think most of your audience work 9 to 5 jobs, try posting around lunch time, when people are on their breaks. If you’re trying to reach stay-at-home moms, consider posting mid-morning, after they drop the kids off at school. Test posts at different times and on different days of the week to see what works best for your audience.
Your “when” is also a question of bandwidth and commitment – is there a “when” in your day that will allow you to monitor comments and questions on social media? To start out, we suggest dedicating 15 minutes a day just to reading comments, answering questions and engaging with your audience – but this time commitment will quickly grow as your social media channels pick up in popularity.
You may also want to record FAQs to streamline responses on social media. For nonprofits, it seems that people most frequently ask about volunteer opportunities, exact locations of programs on the ground and how donations will be used.
How will you track your progress over time? Your social media strategy template suggests key metrics and free tools to track them. Refer to our social media marketing ROI post for a more detailed approach to social media metrics, and downloadable template to record your progress over time.
Your final “how” is a question of human resources. The best social media marketers don’t do it alone – they are in constant communication with colleagues to offer their audience a larger knowledge base and a more dynamic voice.
Social media is “hot” right now, and people are interested. Consider putting out some feelers in your business or your organization to see who might be interested in contributing to your day-to-day work or developing your strategy over time.