The Future for Social Media

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And How Will It Impact My Business?

Part III of a three part series – Creating your Social Media Plan

Your social media plan needs to bring a method to your social media madness.

Your social media plan needs to bring a method to your social media madness.

So, you think just having a Facebook page is all you need to succeed? Think again. New social media websites seem to be popping up almost daily. These apps have integrated themselves into the corporate psyche and are migrating rapidly to mobile platforms. So with this much saturation, how can you use the world of social media to improve your company’s brand recognition or increase revenues?

This is the third installment of a three-part series on social media that provides ideas to create your company’s annual social media plan. The three parts of this series are:

I – Social Media Overview – What are the main social network players and how they can fit into your plan

II – Emerging Trends that will impact the Value of Social Media to your Business

III – Creating your Comprehensive Social Media Plan

Social Media Plan Index

Your social media plan needs to bring a method to your social media madness. Too many companies take a shotgun approach and try to utilize every social media capability without fully understanding the actual benefits. This approach may result in harm to your brand and overall business objectives. You must have a well-thought-out plan to succeed, or risk doing more harm than good.

The following sample index identifies the topics your comprehensive Social Media Plan should contain:

1.            Key Business Goals

2.            Social Media Capabilities and Current Trends

3.            Capability Mapping

4.            Key Performance Measures

5.            Implementation Strategy

6.            Implementation Timeline

7.            Supportive Organizational Structure


Let’s explore each of these index topics and what information they should address.

1. Key Business Goals
Phillips Key Business Goals image
The first and most important step in your social media plan is to document the key business goals you wish to support through the use of social media. These goals should align into six key areas as illustrated in the following graphic, “A Framework for Social Analytics” See Part II for additional details).

2. Social Media Capabilities and Current Trends

As outlined in Parts I and II, the rapidly evolving social media landscape merits constant monitoring. Staying on top of emerging trends and capabilities can translate into an advantage for your company. This report section should be kept current throughout the year. All known social media services should be documented and any intelligence on future developments and offerings should be identified.

Trends can be grouped by the six business goal categories illustrated above. These are some examples of trends grouped by these categories:

Customer Experience Trends:

•             Mobile Social Media

•             Trans Media Storytelling

•             Augmented Reality (AR)

Innovation Trends:

•             Gamification

•             Contests

•             Customer Idea Farming

Brand Health Trends:

•             Klout

•             Google Analytics Social Reports

Marketing Optimization Trends:

•             Social Media Advertising

•             International Social Media Growth Trends

•             Niche Networks

•             Digital Acceleration Teams

Operational Efficiency Trends:

•             Knowledge Exchange

•             Collaborative Office Productivity

•             HootSuite

•             Social Media-Driven HR and Recruiting

Increased Revenue Trends:

•             Reduced Cost of Sales

•             Improved Close Rates

3. Capability Mapping

Phillips Socia Media icons imagePhillips Goals image

For each business goal, you need to identify how the specific social media offerings will support successful achievement. One way to track this is to use a spreadsheet to list all business goals and to document what social media services will be used. The approach to be taken will be documented and a measurable performance measure will be identified to allow for progress reporting.

4. Key Performance Measures

It is important to identify key performance measures for each identified business goal. If you cannot identify how any particular social media capability will support the achievement of a performance measure then you have no reason to use it. Achieving performance measures is the “why” for using any social media capability. Using a particular social media service just because everyone else may be is not a good plan or strategy.

Sample Performance Measures:

•             15 percent Increase in Klout Score

•             20 percent growth in new customer relationships

•             15 percent reduction in cost of sales

•             5 percent increase in close rates per site visit

•             10 percent increase in revenues

•             10 percent increase in customer suggestions

5. Implementation Strategy

This section is a textual discussion of focus areas such as:

•             The overall approach of how your company will adopt the identified social media capabilities and trends.

•             How your competition is currently using social media.

•             How your company can use social media to achieve a competitive advantage.

•             What your priorities are for adopting social media.

•             What budget will be made available for social media adoption.

•             How social media will be used internally by your employees.

6. Implementation Timeline

Your social media plan should include a timeline showing the chronology that adoption tasks will be performed and by whom. Formal assignments must be made for each implementation task. A project manager must be named and given the authority to implement the plan.

7. Supportive Organizational Structure

The successful adoption of social media capabilities and trends requires new organizational positions and structure to be successful. This cannot be a part-time assignment given to a student intern. Smaller companies may be able to utilize a single social media manager, but this person must then educate the entire company about how social media will be leveraged by the company and how they can help with corporate social media priorities. Larger companies will typically have a larger staff, including a digital acceleration team that is constantly monitoring and representing the company on all social media sites and services. Whatever the size of your social media team, they are the protectors of your corporate image and social evangelists for new and lasting customer relationships.

Here are some examples of the type of tasks that would be performed by your social media manager and a digital acceleration team.

Social Media Manager

•             Social media plan and implementation

•             Advertising

•             Gamification development

•             Customer social interaction coordination

•             Internal social media usage (collaboration, knowledge, usage policy)

•             Marketing coordination

•             Ongoing monitoring of social media trends

•             Competitor’s social media capability monitoring

•             Manage digital acceleration team

Digital Acceleration Team

•             24/7 monitoring of customer comments on social media

•             Immediate response to customer comments and suggestions

•             Engage with customers whenever possible

•             Track company reputation score

Ongoing Attention Required

Once your social media plan has been completed, it is important to not just put it on a shelf to collect dust. Sections of the plan should be kept current and updated as needed though the year. Areas such as emerging social media trends, intelligence on your competition’s use of social media and suggestions from your customers should also be updated on a regular basis. When it is time to update your strategy and approach at the end of the year, there should then be no need to do another round of social media research; it’s always current. If a new trend is identified during the year, don’t wait until it’s time to do your annual plan. You should always be ready to take swift action to take advantage of short windows of opportunity to scoop your competition in the ever-changing world of social media.

Time Well Spent

The adoption of social media as a tool to improve your competitive advantage merits more than informal talk, or even the assignment of this task to the tech geek to whom you slide food under the door once a week. (No offence to tech geeks—I was one of them once!) The development of your social media plan deserves C-Suite attention and a permanent place in your corporate organization and culture. It is hoped that this three-part series has provided the information you need to initiate your own social media program and that you will create your social media plan soon. Make it so!


Additional Reading

The Future of Social Media and its Impact 

Assessing Your Website: A discussion with Digital Media Expert Lori Ulloa


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