The idea of having a process for social media will be anathema for many. After all, there is an element of evangelism in social media, as there in fact needs to be. But process doesn’t have to suck the life force out of our endeavors – in fact, process can add value, decrease wasted effort, and add depth and richness to our social media engagements.
This post is based on a presentation I just gave at CMS Expo in Evanston, Illinois. Simply posting a PowerPoint wouldn’t be too useful to many, as I tend to use the slides to add flavor to the presentation itself.
Before diving into our process, it’s a good idea to understand some of the fundamental patterns that exist across social media:
- Self-identification (creating profiles)
- Connecting (friending, following, etc)
There are other patterns within those activities, but those 3 are ubiquitous. My blog post on SEO Moz on Social Media Patterns covers more of that thinking.
Our process here at DragonSearch is a basic four-step process that for anyone in project management should be fairly familiar. We use the analogy of an airplane flight:
In this stage, we’re mostly involved in the discovery phase of the process. There are a series of outputs that will come from this work, including:
- Identify Voice / Persona
- Identify Audience
- Focus Plan
- Monitoring Plan
- Listening Plan
Social Media Marketing Goals
In creating goals, consider the maligned customer funnel. It is true, the paths that customers take with businesses are much more complex than the customer funnel portrays, the model is still a valuable baseline in thinking through your social media goals.
This exercise provides a great opportunity to really dig in and identify your audiences – and to also drill-down to the micro-audiences.
Once you’re brainstormed on all of the micro-audiences, you can then research to discover where those different niche groups reside in the social media sphere. And of course, once you’ve identified where those people are, you can then aim to communicate with them in those places.
Brand Voice in Social Media
As I described in my blog post on Sparksheet, “What Kind of Person is Your Brand?”, people do project persona onto your brand. Determine what voice you want your brand to have in social media.
We’ve identified quite a few different types of voices in social media, but the four main voices we tend to work with are:
- Maven – speaking from a place of knowledge
- Passion – speaking from a place of passion for your domain
- Community – celebrating your community, whether online or offline
- Promotional – our least favorite, where you broadcast and advertise your own business
Benchmarking Social Media
There are several elements that should be benchmarked:
- Facebook – fans and interactions
- Twitter – followers, retweets, mentions, etc
- Blogs – how many people are subscribed, how many commenters, how many posts per month?
- Newsletters – are you sending? to how many people? open rate?
- Press Releases
- General search traffic
Focus Plan Document
The Focus Plan Document will establish your budget, time budget, staff time, etc.
You should also decide what percentage of the budget and time allotment you want dedicated to any particular social media platform. We might, for instance, decide that in the first quarter, we might dedicate 60% of our time to Facebook, 20% to Twitter, and 20% to Flikr. This will help you from getting sidetracked by the plethora of social media options you have.
An example of how we might plan our activities might look like this:
During this phase, we build out profiles and start to build connections
During this phase, we’re:
- Monitor / Listen
- Make ConnectionsEngage Per Plan
- Seek Opportunities
- Creative Time/Brainstorming
- Twitter/FB Flash Mob Internally
- Work off of the Audience Brainstorm
- Develop Champions for different media
Monitoring and Listening
- Google Alerts
- Facebook Trends
- Tools for archiving Twitter
- Professional Tools (Raven, Radian6)
Also, during this review stage, be sure to review your voice to make sure that your voice is where you want it to be:
- Are we being promotional?
- Are we including real people?
- Are we engaging and responding?
- Are we speaking from our passion points?
- Are we leading with our causes?
Do you have any of your own ideas for social media process? I’d love to hear them. Many thanks to CMS Expo for inviting me to present – I met a lot of wonderful people, made some new friends, and learned a great deal. If you have interest in Content Management Systems, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year.
You can also view the full Social Media Process presentation on Slideshare.