How to write a social media plan
When deciding to use social media in your business, you need a measured and carefully planned strategy. To help you get started, below are six steps to developing a social media plan. We've covered these sections in more detail in the pages of this topic.
These pages are based on our free downloadable Social media plan template and guide to help you get started. When writing your plan, be sure to attach your supporting documentation to the plan. This may include your internal social media policies and procedures.
1. Conduct your analysis
Writing your social media plan will be much easier once you know what you are dealing with. Some useful areas to analyse include:
Analyse the channels
Which social media channels best suit your business? To find the answer, it might be useful to register a personal account on a few channels and have a look around. Always check the terms and conditions carefully so you know your rights and obligations before you start. Once you become familiar with the channel, you can decide which ones you can see your business using and benefiting from.
Analyse your business
Once you know a little bit about social media, it's time to analyse your business. Find out if social media is suited to your business, its key goals and whether you have the knowledge and capacity to launch an online social media presence. Once you know which channels suit your needs, only choose the ones you have time to develop and maintain. Remember it's not enough to only have a presence on these channels. Using and maintaining them is where the work lies.
Analyse your customers
If you have analysed your business and you think social media is well suited to your business goals, go online and do some research on your potential and current customers. Find out if they are already online and if they are using social media. If so, find out which social media tools your customers are using and what they are saying about your business and industry.
Analyse your competitors
Next, find out if your competitors are online and using social media. If they are, look at your competitors' social media pages and find out how they use it and how their customers interact with them. Going online before you get started can help you learn from your competitors and discover how they have succeeded or where they could have improved.
2. Develop your social media strategies
To develop a social media strategy, it's important to revisit your business plan and look at your main business goals and strategies. Then, try to determine if and how social media can help you achieve them. You may consider developing specific strategies for each business area or phase. For example, communication and engagement with customers, launching your social media presence, brand development and brand awareness.
3. Establish the rules
One of the disadvantages of social media is the potential of added risk to your business. For example, customers could criticise your business publicly, spam your page or use inflammatory language. By establishing some policies and procedures prior to starting up, you can ensure there are proper checks in place to help minimise these risks.
Internal policies and procedures
Develop some internal policies and procedures to cover security, privacy, responding to criticism and spam. These are especially important if you have someone other than yourself maintaining your social media presence, or if you plan to hand over to someone else in future. Think about your business' core values and build some specific rules around what can and cannot be said on your behalf.
For example, any information you don't want your competitors to know shouldn't be made publicly available. You may decide to establish an approval process for all content or only for responses to customers.
Think carefully about your internal security around social media channels. To manage your channel security, you need to:
- keep passwords safe
- ensure only authorised staff can access your accounts
- update the passwords to your channels regularly, to prevent anyone hacking your accounts.
For strategies and practical advice on your business' online security visit Stay Smart Online.
Acceptable use policy
Develop an acceptable use policy for your social media presence. It's important to know that social media pages are treated like a websites and are bound by the same legislation. See Legal essentials for business for more information.
Your acceptable use policy is important because it:
- establishes the rules to your users early on
- gives users fair warning before your team removes any inappropriate material or privacy breaches from your social media page
- builds trust with your users when they can see that you are serious about their privacy and security.
4. Set up a social media team
If you need help to maintain your social media presence, find out if your existing staff have any skills or professional experience with social media. If not, you might like to consider providing your staff with some training. Once your team has the appropriate skills, establish their roles and responsibilities carefully and familiarise them with your internal policies and procedures before they start.
5. Get started using social media
Once you know what you want to do, how you will achieve it and who will deliver it, you can get started by:
- setting up your page/profile/blog
- building your networks
- implementing your social media strategies.
6. Review your social media plan
It's always important to monitor and measure the impact of your strategies to see if you have achieved your goals. Once you know how effective your strategies are, you can adjust them to improve the result. It might also be useful to develop some achievable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Once they have been achieved, you can review the results and slowly increase your expectations.
What to do...
- Find strategies and practical advice on protecting your business’ online security at Stay Smart Online.
- Find an example of an acceptable use policy on business.gov.au's Facebook page.
- Search Events for any upcoming seminars, training courses and workshops on social media.
- See Legal essentials for doing business online for more information on online legal issues.
- Use Advisory Services to find business advisory and support services in your local area.
- Download our free templates and tools to assist with business planning.