Starting 2015 with a simple social media plan

New Year cat
Happy New Year!

Has one of your New Year’s Resolutions been related to getting on top of social media? Or once the mince pies had finally all been eaten did any of your thoughts wander to getting some sort of communications or social media plan written for 2015? I’ve worked on two social media plans over the last few days, one of them for #digitaldudley as I’m eager to get this blog, BostinCamp and talk of great social media use in Dudley borough cranked up again in 2015.

One of the best things I have ever come across to gently guide people through the process of putting together a simple and effective social media plan is a blog post by Honey Lucas (@driftkey99 on twitter). I’ve pasted it all below (with Honey’s permission) but please do have a wander over to her blog for a look around. Although Honey no longer updates it you’ll find all sorts of useful ideas and advice there.

Below is what Honey posted. I simply love this for how easy she makes it.  And for the biscuit suggestions!

Avoid tweet fatigue: tie your social media to your organisational goals

One of the brilliant things about social media is how quickly you can get going. Setting up a Twitter or Facebook account, or one on the other networks, takes but a moment, and then you can get stuck in straightaway to send tweets, post to your wall, update your LinkedIn profile and start building your YouTube channel. Great! Fantastic! Exciting! So, er, now what?

Like anything, the novelty of all these shiny new social media tools is going to wear off eventually. The risk is that, having put in lots of effort to build a following and really engage with people, you’re going to run out of steam. It’s the ‘Oh-heavens-what-am-I-going-to-tweet-today’ syndrome. Not only does that abruptly halt the conversations with people who are following you, but it also leaves you with a nasty feeling that you should be doing something better.

So, what to do to avoid this dismal scenario? I reckon the number 1 thing you can do is to make sure you have tied your social media plan to your organisation’s goals. Er, don’t have a social media plan? Not sure how to tie it to your goals? Well, read on.

  1. Ask yourself what your organisation is about. Does it exist to raise awareness of a particular issue? Support people in a particular location, or who experience a particular illness or other set of circumstances? Does it campaign for the protection of species, or landscapes, or ways of life? Whatever it is, put this front and centre in your mind… or better still, put it front and centre on a bit of paper.
  2. Next up, write down what goals your organisation has which aim to allow it to fulfill that overall purpose that you just wrote down. So, for example, if your group wants to better support people who experience bereavement, say, then you might have goals that include:
    • Provide individual support for people in distress.
    • Raise awareness of bereavement and grief and its impact on people.
    • Allow people who have experienced bereavement to meet and support each other.
    • Raise funds to support the charity’s work.
  3. Next, have a word with your marketing, fundraising and campaigning colleagues (or, consider these functions yourself if there’s just you!): you need to find out what they have planned for the next six to nine months. Add to your bit of paper any campaigns they are running, any events they have planned, or any specific goals they are trying to reach. So those could be:
    • Awareness-raising campaign to destigmatise grief and bereavement in society due to be launched in September. Marketing already planned includes flyers, posters, radio ads, and events.
    • Bereavement-support networks events planned for September, October, November. Advertised in charity’s newsletter.
    • Fundraising goal of increasing individual donations by 5% in six months.
  4. Get yourself a cup of tea and a bourbon and look at your piece of paper. First up, consider your organisation’s goals. tea and biscuitsRemember, these are steps that will enable you to reach your organisation’s overall purpose. Think about how (or if) social media can help you act on any of these goals. So, in this example, you might put:
    • Provide individual support for people in distress. Engage with supporters and service-users on social media platforms that they may already be using, especially Facebook and Twitter.
    • Raise awareness of bereavement and grief and its impact on people. Use social media as another outlet for information about bereavement, and monitor key terms to enable misapprehensions about bereavement to be challenged.
    • Allow people who have experienced bereavement to meet and support each other. In addition to the face-to-face support events, offer a bespoke and private social network from your organisation’s website which will allow people to draw support from each other even if they are not able to meet in person.
    • Raise funds to support the charity’s work. Respond to service-user and supporter contact across social networks, spread the word about campaigns, make it easy to donate or undertake fundraising activities.
  5. Next, get another bourbon (or maybe a jammy dodger if you have one) and think about that information you gleaned from fundraising, marketing and so on. Again, scribble some ideas for using social media next to these points, for example:
    • Awareness-raising campaign to destigmatise grief and bereavement in society due to be launched in September. Marketing already planned includes flyers, posters, radio ads, and events. Set up and monitor a hashtag on Twitter, cost-out option of running a Facebook ad. Put key dates about the campaign on the calendar so you can tweet or post significant bits of news, or help share new bits of content like interviews or events.
    • Bereavement-support networks events planned for September, October, November. Advertised in charity’s newsletter. Get these events up on your own website, and also on Facebook. Tweet about them to remind people when they’re happening. Answer any posted queries about the events.
    • Fundraising goal of increasing individual donations by 5% in six months. Make a link between one of the online fundraising sites and your Facebook page and website. Make it easy to donate. Encourage people to post or tweet about their fundraising activities and acknowledge their efforts with friendly responses.
  6. So that’s all good. Now you need to think about how you are going to be able to tell whether or not you have succesfully acheived any of these aims. What does success look like? Well, it is likely to look different across different platforms and networks. It could include:
    • An increase in Facebook likes of 10% over six months, indicating increased reach of our messages.
    • An increase of Twitter followers of 10% over six months, and increased mentions and retweets over the same period.
    • Membership of our bespoke network for support of bereaved individuals growing to 100 by the end of six months. Steady growth in activity over the same period.
    • Increased attendance at events, of 20% over six months.
    • Increase in individual donations of 5% over six months (ok, you had that one already).
  7. Ok, last bit now. Raid that biscuit-tin one more time and sharpen your pencil. Actually, you’ve already done all the hard work. Just read through your own annotations and you will find that you have sketched out a pretty good social media plan. It’s built on your organisation’s purpose and its goals, and it references existing marketing and fundraising work that is already going on. Get a nice new bit of paper and write out all your notes again, this time with a rough timetable down one side – so, for example, if you know the awareness-raising campaign is due to begin on 1 September, you can be ready to start posting and tweeting on that day too. Note down the dates of key events that are already booked in. Block out the period within which you want to be increasing your fundraising.

What this should get you is a social media plan that includes:

  • Dates of key activities, campaigns and events.
  • Specific ideas about how you can meaningfully use social media to acheive your organisation’s goals.
  • The hashtags, keywords or ads that you want to be monitoring.

So is this plan SMART? You know: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. Well, yes – you know what you are going to do and, more importantly, why. You’ve got individual bits of information you need to monitor, such as keywords, followers, hashtags etc, and you know what success will look like when you get there. You can see at a glance whether what you’ve planned is going to be within your grasp to acheive and whether it’s realistic. And you’ve got a timescale to it all. Check!

By the end of this process not only will you have consumed several biscuits and cups of tea, but you’ll have planned out what you need to do in your social media work for the next six months. Not only that, you’ll know why you’re doing it and you know how you will recognise its success or failure.

Now all you need to do is get on with it! Time for some more biccies, I think.

Here are a few more links to things which help with social media planning.

Another from Honey Lucas: take your social media strategy at a RUN
Great tips and thinking from KnowHowNonProfit on how to develop a social media strategy for your organisation
And even more, these from Beth Kanter on creating your organisation’s social media strategy map

Do let us know how you get on if you are making social media plans. And what went well from plans you made last year. And share any great advice or ideas have you come across – leave a comment here or tweet and use #digitaldudley.

Image credits:
New Year’s cat shared by Helen Haden (hehaden) on Flickr
Tea and bourbon biscuit by Paul Downey share on wikimedia commons


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