Everyone is talking about social media; hash-tags, likes, groups and updates.  We predict that social media will be very important for businesses in 2012 as more organisations use it to research ideas, people and products, creating a incoming marketing environment.

If your organization is looking to embrace social media it is important to have a plan.  Dabbling with the odd social tool (Facebook, Twitter etc) is OK for learning the ropes, but could be potentially damaging for your organisation’s reputation, as an unattended and outdated social media profile is in fact worse than not having one at all.

We’ve put together a 6 point guide for writing your social media plan – it won’t take long and is definitely worth doing.  Enjoy!

1. Understanding your current situation

In order to write your social media plan you need to fully understand your organisation and its situation.  For example you need to know what you sell, who you sell it too, how you position yourself and how you’re currently marketing yourself.

Next, you need to understand what you are looking to achieve from social media in order to meet your expectations – why are you even looking at a social media strategy?  And ‘because everyone else is doing it’ isn’t a great reason, and isn’t a good motivator for the team involved.

Finally, what budget and resources are available?  Is there money in the pot to devote to the effort?  Is there a dedicated team member who can be involved or is this something that people will work on in addition to their job role, in their ‘spare time’.

2. Analysis of your existing community

Your community may already be established, or you may be starting from the ground up.  Either way, you’ll need to understand what is already out there and what people are saying about you (if at all!).

Next, and probably more importantly, you need to understand who your audience is.  Who are you looking to communicate with?  Where are they currently active?  What tools are they currently using?  This is more that just women aged 30-45, this is about their interests, hobbies, shopping habits, website they frequent, time spent on social media etc.  This is valuable information and not a stage that you can afford to skip.

3. Set your goals

It is important to set realistic goals for yourself.  They also need to be SMART, Strategic (work towards your desired outcome), Measurable (how can you measure your success), Achievable (relying on resources/budget), Realistic (don’t over stretch yourself) and Time (how long you expect this to take).

4. Your plan of action

What, specifically are you going to do to achieve your goals?  This will include your content strategy (what, who and when), your channel strategy (where and how) and your campaign strategy (where does this fit in to other campaigns and on what timeline).

5. Measurement

How will you know if you’re doing well?  Measurements can be taken from your goals, if you wanted to see move website visits then you can monitor this by tracking your site on something like Google Analytics.  If you wanted to raise awareness and support you can use ‘like’s’ and ‘re-tweet’s’ to track this.

6. Teaching others and implementing a plan

A social media plan often involves other members of the team.  They might need some training to be able to use some social media tools.  You might also need to write a plan or timetable to help team members understand what is required of them and when.

That’s it!  Good luck…

For help with your social media strategy, or to outsource it off your hands, please get in touch with Oyster on 01243 389713 or email hello@oysterdesign.co.uk.