My last post on implementing social media policies and procedures received a lot of support from the blogging community. Carl Weinschenk, of IT Business Edge, interviewed me on how companies can better roll out social media initiatives, incorporating policies to protect the company and the employee.
This week, we’ll build upon that and develop a social media strategy. That includes developing a strategic plan for implementing social media initiatives at the company. References to company also applies to government agencies, non-profits, group, or any type of organization.
Why develop a social media strategic plan?
Companies should develop a social media strategic plan for the same reason that they should develop a business plan. It is the guiding document for the company’s short and long-term approach toward using social media for its business needs, and to determine how social media can meet its customers needs. Stephanie Gulley, a blogger at heystephanie.com, recently posted a piece on assessing your customer’s readiness for social media.
Without a strategic plan, it becomes too easy to get caught up in the latest technology trend. Limited resources constrain the implementation of every social media tool that appears. While individuals may be able to follow the trends, companies should develop their brand and presence on viable platforms.
What elements should be in the strategic plan?
A social media strategic plan is no different than any other strategic plan, whether it be an organizational strategic plan, IT strategic plan, etc. A simple Google search of strategic plan will return great results:
- Social Media Conference NW “Strategic Planning for Social Media Marketing” – A very high-level worksheet for getting started with the strategic plan.
- Dennis McDonald “How to Develop a Business-aligned Social Media & Social Networking Strategy” – Very detailed explanation geared toward corporate use.
- Stephanie Gulley “Are Your Customers Ready for Social Media?” – While not about strategic planning, this article goes into great detail regarding assessing your target audience.
At a minimum, your company strategic plan should contain the following:
- Company background – provides the reader with context and understanding of the company’s history, it’s mission and values, and organizational structure.
- Methodology – a brief section should be reserved for describing the methodology the company took to develop the plan. Were stakeholders involved? Who managed the project? How were decisions made?
- Purpose and Goal of Social Media – Similar to the company’s mission, vision, and values, the strategic plan should include a clear and concise set of goals and outcomes desired.
- Prioritized list of social media initiatives – This section deserves its own post. Until then, the list of social media initiatives is simply a set of subprojects that the company wishes to roll out. For example, an initiative can be develop a presence on Facebook to connect with potential employees. From that list, the social media planning steering committee should prioritize and rank the list in order of importance. Prioritizing the list ensures that resources are dedicated to the highest value items.
- Actionable implementation plan – Each initiative should have a high-level implementation plan, including a brief description what is the initiative, timeframe for rolling out, resources required, and dependencies.
- Performance metrics – To ensure that the initiatives are providing value to the company and its customers, a set of measurable performance metrics should be developed, agreed-upon, and tracked. For example, a measurable metric can be number of recruitments referred by the Facebook page. A product company may wish to track traffic referred by Twitter leading to a sales conversion.
- Roles and responsibilities – The stakeholders and project team should have their roles and responsibilities clearly defined to ensure that everyone knows their purpose in the project.
How to implement the strategic plan?
Next time, we’ll go into the nitty gritty of rolling out at social media campaign. In the mean time, please share your thoughts. If you have a copy of a social media strategic plan, please let me know so we can share to the readers.