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Ten Steps for Creating a Social Media Plan

Tips I used to be successful

I recently began reflecting on where I was four years ago when I first started building our social media marketing team and strategy and thought it would useful to share. There were a few experts in the field that I listened too and others which offered very little value so I had to find my own way through much of the planning process like I am sure many of you are looking to do as well. I started writing detailed steps on my blog and here is the recap of the first 10 steps for creating a social media marketing plan. I covered a lot of ground and thought it would be good to recap because these are really just the steps for planning. There is still the preparation and executing the plan still to go which I will try to cover over the next month. If you want more details on each of the steps you can follow and read the full posts on http://bracerennels.com/. 
10 steps for creating a social media plan

10 Steps for Creating a Social Media Plan
Step #1: Believe

You have to believe in yourself and the journey you are about to start. I was fortunate to have an executive team and board of directors that supported our efforts to incorporate social media into our overall marketing programs. So, it helps to be fortunate but step #1 is to Believe. This will help support your confidence to be able to communicate effectively the benefits of the social media programs and your overall plan.

Step #2: Selling The Executives
Step #2 to building a successful social media marketing plan is to sell yourself and your plan to the executive team. Many executives many not know much about social media but they have heard enough about the buzz to know they need to be engaged, so half the battle is already won.

They will ask questions like "What if someone says something bad?" and the answer is "They may already may be, and we just don't know it". The truth is you can't prevent people from being disgruntled, but if you provide a forum for them to vent at least you have the ability to engage and help resolve their issue.

Step #3: Building Social Media Guidelines
Your first thought might be "I need to build a community" or "I need to create a viral video" but there is something that needs to be done first. Step #3 - Social Media Guidelines. You won't be the only one engaging in social media, so you need to put together some guidelines for employees to follow.

Step #4: The Three P's Plan, Prepare, Perform
There are many acronyms similar to the three P's and this could very well be done in parallel to steps #1 and #2. However the first #3 steps are definitely part of the planning process. Your social media marketing plan will need to include several phases and this step may need to be broken down into smaller projects to really cover all the requirements.

Step #5: Set Realistic Goals
Setting goals has as much to do with setting expectations as it does the goal itself. Don't set your expectations that you are going to create the next viral buzz or you will most certainly be disappointed. Start with something simple like creating a blogging strategy and here are the steps you need to accomplish that.

Step #6: Identify Your Influencers
Influencers are anyone internally or externally that are passionate about your product. Find them and engage them to build a relationship. You can do this by setting up a Google alert on specific keywords like your brand name which will send you an e-mail every time that word is found on the web.

Step #7: Identify Your Knowledge Experts
Within your company there are specialists who are experts on engineering, testing, customer support, marketing, etc... your product and brand. Ask them if they would be willing to participate and help write content and share their knowledge in their respective field of expertise.

Step #8: Communicating Your Plan
Communicating your plan, your strategy and you goals is critical to your success. You will need to communicate often in the beginning and then at least once a month to keep the momentum rolling.

Step #9: Measuring Results
If you are starting from scratch like I did then you likely don't have much of a budget to help implement some nice products that make this easier. Instead I relied on Google, tags, href statements and bitly links which believe it or not worked pretty well.

Step #10: Know Your Business
Knowing your business and customer base will be instrumental in building your plan. This will help you determine which marketing and or social media programs to engage first and which ones will have the most immediate impact.

As far as I remember and this was about four years ago, these were the steps that I took to build a successful social media plan before there were any models available. This worked for our team and hope this type of information works for you.

More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com