What is the best way to use social media to increase your organization’s revenue, and communicate with your current and prospective customers, donors, clients, members? Maybe you’ve been using Facebook or LinkedIn for quite a while but you’re not sure it’s doing anything for you. Is it worth the time? How do you know if you’re doing the right things?

You need a simple, straightforward plan for social media success. If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend months thinking through a complex plan that is too complicated to execute in the first place. You want to get moving and see action and results.

Here is my outline and tips for developing a clear social media plan that drives results.

mapping through a maze

Map these components out, involving anyone in your team who plays a role in your social media presence or you think would add value to your discussion.


Your Goals: What are the two or three most important goals you have for your social media presence? Do you want to increase revenue of a specific product(s), attract new members/donors, prospect for clients, build community with current customers?

Your Audience: Picture who you most want to reach and as much information as you can about them. Age range, preferences, needs, interests, etc. What kinds of words and expressions resonate with them? What are their biggest problems keeping them up at night that you can help solve or at least share some levity or understanding of? What do they care about? Which social media sites are they most likely to spend time on (as opposed to just having a profile and don’t visit regularly)?

What is the most important message, story and/or theme you want to articulate? Use a mixture of kinds of posts and messaging, that include serious, funny or tongue in cheek, behind the scenes, and very useful content that helps solve your customers/donors/members’ problems. Always keep your goals and brand in mind. Share content from other organizations so you have a wide mix not all egocentric about you. And minimize how much you post that is “salesy.” Only a small percentage should be sales oriented, the vast majority should use a useful content approach or sharing content from other reliable sources.

How does your messaging and social media goals fit in with your overall marketing, communications, and public relations plan for your organization? You want a consistent look and feel visually, as well as in message and tone. Your social media posts and communications should support and integrate with what you are doing through other channels.

Brainstorm images, videos, polls, and questions you can feature that reinforce your stories and messaging. Social media is very visual and interactive.

Your Staffing. Who will focus on social media posting, monitoring and listening? Do you have staff available or will you explore contract help? How will you prioritize time spent on social media to meet your business goals. Which sites, which approaches and goals?

Potential partners, collaborators and influencers. Who could you collaborate with to like each other’s Facebook pages, exchange guest blog posts, share advice, and promote and share each other’s posts, tweets, and images?

Picture What Success Would Look Like and How You Can Measure It. Establish some specific metrics you can measure based on your goals, including tracking data in the social media site(s) you’ve chosen to engage in, tracking web traffic (especially for this purpose number of people coming to your site from which social media sites), and to taking key steps you want them to (purchases, donations, number of client prospects, webinar or event sign ups, etc.). It can be challenging to track the end result you want (e.g. for my business that sells an app, we don’t have access to iTunes visitors who purchased to see if they came from our Facebook or Pinterest presence). However, you can watch for activity spikes timed against what you are doing on social media and make some educated guesstimates about what’s working.

Be Prepared to Engage, Answer Customer Questions, Address Issues, and Avoid Painful Missteps. Actively engaging in sites like Facebook or Twitter can be invaluable for business success, but you need to be prepared to engage with current and potential customers and not ignore feedback or inquiries. Think about potential issues or pitfalls that could arise. It’s impossible to anticipate everything, but reflecting on possible bigger crises or smaller customer glitches ahead of time can help you respond quickly and calmly if a misstep occurs. For example, who will be point person if a tricky customer question or bigger issue occurs? Who is authorized to speak for your organization in which kinds of situations, who will know who to consult with about what but in a quick enough way to respond promptly and effectively?

Regularly Test and Assess. What is working best versus is not worth your time? Watch for what times and days of the week get you the best views and engagement. Give a realistic amount of time, for example if you just started a Facebook page, you’re not likely to suddenly have 10,000 Facebook fans in a month or two.

Watch for New Trends and Approaches to Try. Newer sites start to rise in popularity. Watch especially for those that seem popular with the audience you are trying to watch. For example, Pinterest seems to drive more purchasing behavior than some other sites, and their number of active “pinners” has increased very quickly. Follow social media experts and sites like Social Media Examiner, Tech Crunch, and Mashable to stay up to date on trends, ideas, and pitfalls to avoid.

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