A Simple Social Media Plan for Startups

You wouldn’t think of launching your startup without an accompanying social media presence, but for most small teams or solopreneurs, the demands of bringing a new product or service to market don’t leave many hours in the day for Facebook posts (or, for that matter, sleep). And unless you’re developing a cloning device, bringing on an extra pair of hands to manage your social media marketing may be a few funding rounds away.

So what can you do, right now, to get started?

Create a Social Media Plan

“But wait,” you say. “Planning isn’t getting started. That’s why they call it planning.”

Think of planning as the new starting. By putting some time into even a bare-bones strategy, you’ll be able to create and maintain an appropriate social media presence that builds community and meets your goals until you can hand over the reins.

Step One: The Basics

Ask yourself two crucial questions:

  1. How will social media help me achieve my business goals?
  2. Do my customers use social media?

If you can’t answer the first question, you’ve got some work to do. Failing to tie social media efforts to measurable business goals is the first marketing mistake most startups make. What are you hoping to achieve with social? Awareness, lead generation and sales are great goals – as long as you have mechanisms in place to track your success.

The second question is as important as the first. Remember how I mentioned an “appropriate social media presence?” Creating profiles on the most popular social networks is pointless (and a colossal waste of resources) if your target audience isn’t there. You MUST know your target customer demographics: age, gender and income level at a minimum. Even better is interests, where and how they prefer to get information and who influences their opinions. With this data in hand, a few minutes on Google should reveal the social networks frequented by your audience.

Step Two: Assign a Social Media Manager

Assuming you’re not your only employee, the next step is determining the best person to manage your social media presence. Putting one person in charge ensures a consistent brand voice and that your team doesn’t duplicate posts or forget to post anything at all. Or worse, send conflicting messages that could harm your brand.

Step Three: Inventory Your Content

Make a list of every content asset on your website (photos, blogs, videos, white papers, reviews, podcasts, etc.). You’ll probably be surprised by how much you already have that’s suitable for sharing (and repurposing across multiple channels). Pam Moore has a great worksheet that’s free to download here.

Next, note the content you need or would like to have. This will help you prioritize your content generation efforts. Finally, determine who can provide this new content. Can you or a team member handle it, or will you need to outsource?

Step Four: Make a Content Calendar

A content calendar will help you organize your social posts so that you’re not scrambling for ideas to keep your audience engaged. Organize it by weeks, months or campaigns and include each piece of content you plan to send on every social network, each day. Don’t forget to include paid ads in your calendar, too. (Here’s a great free Excel template to download)

Step Five: Measure and Adjust

There are hundreds of applications that make measuring your social media ROI easier. What you use is less important than making sure you measure. If your budget is tight or non-existent, you can go old-school with a spreadsheet and data from free programs like Google Analytics and the excellent native measuring tools offered by Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can even get some decent Instagram metrics for free using Iconosquare.

The data you gather is meaningless if you don’t use it to inform your actions. Once you know what appeals to your audience, create more of it. As your company grows and prospers, your content creation methods will become more sophisticated (graduating from shooting video on your smartphone to having a digital production company on retainer sounds good, right?). Eventually, you’ll be able to hire that social media team you’ve been dreaming about when you’re not sleeping.

Has a social media strategy saved your sanity? Still think there’s not enough time to plan? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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