The world is abuzz with social media–what platforms to use, how and when to use it, what content to publish, how to engage followers…it’s overwhelming, isn’t it?
So take a step back. Breathe. Anything can seem overwhelming at first. These six steps will help you build a successful social media program.
Step One: Learn
How do you choose the right social media platforms for your organization?
Know how social media platforms function and interact with each other across different devices.
Consider the resources you have to manage the account.
Learn best practices from other social media & public relations pros.
Watch social media trends specific to your field.
Step Two: Plan
Planning is really a two-fold process. First, you need a strategic plan, which gives you the big picture of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there and how you will measure success. Second, the tactical plan breaks down the strategic plan into a more operational or working plan.
Include a social media strategy as part of a comprehensive communications plan.
Make your plan scalable and measurable.
Evaluate it regularly & make course corrections if necessary.
Here’s a simple example of a communications goal:
Once you have your communications strategy in place, then you will want to plan out specific communications. This tactical or working plan is what you should use to plan and execute specific communications that support the goals you developed in your strategic plan. It should capture communications required (or desired) for regular (cyclical) and ad hoc events. Crisis Whisperer can work with you to build a tailored tactical communications plan.
Step Three: Mitigate Risk
This topic truly merits its own separate post. Managing risk is usually a team sport with players from operations, risk and/or legal and communications. We believe it is essential that the communications lead has a strong relationship with the management team and a seat at the table for planning and any crisis response.
Know & address vulnerabilities (for both operations & communications).
Develop and maintain policies & procedures to set expectations for current & prospective employees, volunteers, etc.
Step Four: Engage
Social media is unique in that you can directly interact with your stakeholders in real time. The trick is how to increase the number of followers you have and keep them engaged.
Connect & interact with customers, volunteers, suppliers, partners & other stakeholders to grow “followers” & increase message delivery.
Post relevant content.
Let your hair down a bit.
Step Five: Monitor
Monitoring social media activity is essential. At first it may only take one minute a day, but as you grow your social media presence, it will require more time and attention. Monitoring is a key part of evaluating your social media strategy and will help you gauge whether you need to make adjustments. It also will alert you to trends and issues.
Keep an eye on engagement activity and your reputation by using services like Google Alerts, HootSuite, etc.
Look for patterns & issues that need special attention – positive or negative.
Step Six: Be Crisis Ready
As wonderful as social media is, it can also fan the flames of a crisis and spread it rapidly. As social media manager needs to be nimble and prepared. Knowing what your risks are will help you plan for that “rainy day”–because it’s not if a crisis will happen but when.
Make sure you have a crisis communications plan that addresses possible operational & communications issues & test it regularly from the top of the organization down.
Be fast, be accurate, be thoughtful & never forget we’re all human.
Social media is a great way to connect with your audience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t get discouraged if it starts out slowly. Keep at it and you will see the benefits. If we can be of service to you, please let us know.