Getting started with social media can be an intimidating thing. Peering across the vastness of the Internet, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You might ask yourself, “Do I need a Twitter?” Or even worse, a voice in the back of your head keeps chirping “I need a Twitter!”
The best thing to do at this point in your social media journey may seem counterintuitive at first: take two steps back.
Starting with the tools first, from Facebook to Twitter to Myspace, is the most common misstep in the social media dance. It turns out, social media is just like any other marketing activity, and having a plan is essential to being successful. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves to slow down and count out the steps “1-2-3-4.”
To guide those first awkward moments I always recommend an acronym that I use on a regular basis: POST IT! This is something that I adapted from Forrester’s great “POST Method,” which I think leaves a couple of important steps out. The letters stand for:
People: The audience that will be targeted by your social media efforts. Focusing on the audience first forces you to make sure that in the end, whatever you’re doing addresses the specific needs, desires and habits of those the people you hope to reach. Just like any good “social” relationship, you should try to put others first.
Objective: Quite simply, what are you trying to accomplish with this whole endeavor? The more measurable any goals you consider are, the better. By knowing what you want to accomplish from the beginning you can pick the right tools for the job.
Strategy: This is potentially the most difficult part of the planning process. Sometimes working backwards can be helpful, starting with your ideal view of what your audience will be doing as a result of your efforts. Then step by step figure out what you have to do to get them to that point, until you make your way back to your present circumstances. Keep realistic expectations about what your relationship is with your audiences and court them appropriately.
Technology: Each social media tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. Whether you need to communicate in real-time with a group of experts or deepen the relationship of a few core supporters, finding the right mix of social media is important.
Integration: Now that you’ve decided which social media tools you’re going to use, the trick is weaving them through your organization. Identify any resources you may already have at your disposal, from workers who are already social media power users to media that is being produced on a day-to-day basis. These are your best sources for content. Also, make sure your online activities connect with the rest of your marketing efforts.
Tracking: Set up a tracking and reporting system so that everyone can stay on the same page and you can measure your successes. Social media activities are rich with statistics, but take the next step and connect them back to the Objectives you outlined earlier in the process. Something not working? Tweak, mix, repeat.
Bonus: !: Have fun! Just like dancing, your social media efforts are much more convincing if it looks like you’re actually enjoying yourself, and not just going through the motions.
Anyone else have any handy acronyms that they use for social media planning? Any other adaptations of Forrester’s POST Method?