Not having a Social Media Plan is like going for a long Hike in the Mountains without any Food and Water.

Morning Hike - Sun On TrailThe point is that you may survive, but it will be a very challenging and frustrating experience that could have otherwise been avoided. In my last post, I wrote about how planning starts with a VISION. In this post, I want to emphasize the importance of PLANNING. When most people think of planning, they yawn, BORING! Who wants to get boggled down with details?! “Let’s just go for it, make it happen and we will adjust along the way. Besides, it’s more fun and adventurous to have some spontaneity in our lives!” I swear, I used to say that and believe that with all my heart, and I still do in some areas of my life, but NOT when it comes to business. Unfortunately, I have had to learn through too many failures to understand why PLANNING is key to a successful business. So let’s dive into some key factors that are fundamental to having a solid social media plan. For the purpose of this blog post, I will be referring to small businesses:

  • Know your target audience – Who are you selling to? Who’s attention do you want? Let’s narrow it down further. What  is your buyer persona?  That means, what are your buyers’ preferences, tastes, likes and dislikes. For example, my company, Hware sells software tools that help small businesses. Therefore, I look for entrepreneurs, and Work-at-Home folks to connect with online and try to make myself useful to them. I am laser-focused on the kind of person I want to interact with online. It’s  not that I don’t or won’t engage with anyone other than my ideal client, it’s just that I am very specific and clear about who I need to be talking to online for my business. More importantly, if your target audience is not online, then you are wasting your time being online. You need to be where they are. That’s where market research comes in.
  • Spend some time doing some Market Research – It is crucial to find out where your customers hang out. Are they on Twitter or LinkedIn? Are most of them not using social networking sites and still prefer e-mail? The point is that you need to have a clear understanding of where they are so that you can communicate with them.  Occasionally, I enroll my online audience in surveys, which gives me insight into what they need. I then provide them with the results of the polls. By engaging my audience and asking for feedback, I gain tremendous knowledge on who they are, what their challenges are, and how I may better serve them. Here are a few online survey tools: Poll Daddy,  Survey Monkey and Twtpoll (for Twitter). The surveys need to be short, simple and convenient for the participant, otherwise, they will be reluctant fill it out.
  • Know your online STAG: I call these your Strengths, Talents, Attributes, and GiDeer In My Yardfts. You must find and own your STAG and become like the beautiful statuesque male deer I live with here in the foothills of Northern California. They know their own power and beauty.  They grace the land with great ease and confidence. When you know your STAG, you will attract, engage, and be like a magnet to your online Fans, Friends, and Followers. When you are clear about your STAG, it will show in your energy, your presence. We all feed off of each other’s energy and your customers are no different. They will know if you are moving with ease and confidence and when you are putting their best interests first and foremost. (I will write more about STAG in future blog posts.) An example of using your STAG is let’s say that you are better at talking than writing; then perhaps you may want do more vlogging (video blogs) than blogging. The point is that you are playing to your strengths and when you work from a place of strengths, it always much easier.
  • Remember that your Social Media Plan – should come under the umbrella of your marketing plan and your marketing plan falls under your business plan and your business plan should be part of your long-term strategic plan, (which I will write about in more detail another time.) So many people get overwhelmed with social media, but it is important to keep things in perspective. Social media is just one aspect of your overall business and as an entrepreneur/self-employed, you wear many different hats – social media is your marketing hat.

On my next blog post, I will delve into more detail about social media planning. I will be writing about some specific automation tools to help systematize and simplify your online presence.

Brenda Horton is Co-owner of Hware, a software company that designs business planning tools for small businesses. She will be hosting a FREE and LIVE Webinar on Social Media STRATEGIES for beginners on September 2nd.

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