Does this this fit into your business? Where is it in the business plan? Does it stand alone, or as part of strategy? Is it good in and of itself, or in business context? How much time (and time is money) and money does it take?
After all, things you do in business have to serve business goals. Right?
Here’s how to apply the basic principals of business planning to your social media activities. Start with a plan, then follow it up with plan review, course corrections, and, ultimately, management. Here’s how to do that:
1. Set the review schedule
Never do any business planning without a review schedule. What matters is the planning, not just the plan. Your first step should be to set a regular time — the third Thursday of every month, for example — to track your progress towards goals.
Given that we’re all just human, we need to have that schedule set up to make this really work for business. Reminders, ticklers, and, if more than just you are involved, commitments from the their people.
2. Set the business objectives
What would social media success look like, for you and your business? Would it be lots of friends, followers, and connections? More web traffic? More blog subscribers? Perhaps you’re looking for getting early warning about new trends, or a window into what your customers say about your business?
It’s not just social media for its own sake, right? It’s a business activity, with a business purpose?
Define the objectives. Don’t sweat the writing, the text format, or the tools. It’s business, so form follows function. Leave it in draft-easy form as bullet points on your computer, just enough so you can track it later. But get it down so you can review it later.
3. Set specific concrete steps
So how do you achieve those objectives? Think about breaking the longer process down into shorter steps, so you can track those steps and your progress towards goals. Part of the benefit of planning is being able to think through the sequence, and coordinate related tasks.
Setting the steps in order doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to follow them, no matter what. The advantage of having a plan, even in the rapidly changing world of social media, is being able to mark how things change as they change, and still keep track of the related steps.
It also helps you pull the plan down into practical reality, avoiding the danger of the blue sky plan with vague good ideas and platitudes, but no real way to track success or failure.
4. Match tasks to owners.
Hint: when you think of what has to be done, do you see the face of the person responsible? Is there a single person responsible? That’s what we call ownership, meaning the clear assignment of specific responsibilities to specific people.
Without ownership, the likelihood of implementation goes way down. When it’s to be done by a group or a committee, it’s just not as likely to be done.
So for twitter, for example, who is responsible for which accounts? Who is doing what searches to find tweets related to those topics? Or in Facebook, who is responsible for page updates, and trolling the web for mentions? Who is doing which blog, and how often?
5. Develop useful metrics.
Planning by itself is not the object, it’s the execution that matters; and that means metrics. Measurement. Metrics means specific, concrete numbers so you can track whether you’re on plan or not. Avoid generalities, and look to specifics that will speak for themselves. Try to set your objectives in specific numbers.
How to measure results? For social media, it might be followers or connections, but it might also be new clients, presentations, leads, unique visitors to a website, or some other factor you can measure. It will be different for every business, but it will always have a connection to your objectives.
And even if it’s just you, the one-person business, you still want metrics. And a dose of realism is a real good idea too. Think about bites you can chew. The good news, though, is that if you follow through with step one above, realism will happen over time.
Ready, set execute!
Having a plan is just the beginning. Review, correct, review, correct: it’s called steering. With this social media plan as well as everything in business planning: don’t fall into the trap of the mythical business plan document, singular, noun, probably lost and getting dusty somewhere.
All business plans are wrong, but nonetheless vital; because if you didn’t have the plan, you wouldn’t know how to correct, and how assumptions have changed. The result is steering, and management.