Success in Social Media Begins With a Plan

 In Competing in a Crowded Market, Preparing for the Future

Last month, we kicked off a series of blog posts focused on ways to approach your social media efforts with purpose and intent. The first post, “Avoid the 7 ‘deadly sins’ of social media,” took a holistic view of social media marketing from the perspective of what not to do. The series of posts will take a closer look at each of the “sins” and highlight best practices for approaching social media strategically.

While many providers of senior care, home care, hospice and palliative care have been active on social media for years, and are doing it well, others may be ready to take their efforts to the next level. Regardless of your level of expertise, the social media landscape is always changing. Revisiting the fundamentals, while also keeping abreast of the latest trends and algorithms, will help you continue to advance your strategy.

Lack of planning

As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Planning is everything.” In our last post, we deemed the number one “deadly sin” was lack of planning. Whether you’re an expert in social media or just dipping your toe in the social waters, you know successful marketing initiatives begin with a plan.

The most effective plans paint a clear picture by answering the “what, why, where, how and when” questions. This involves first outlining your goals and objectives, determining the most effective way to reach your target audience, creating a content plan and finally measuring success. We’ll break down the key elements of a social media plan.

  1. Goals and objectives
    As you develop or refine your goals and objectives, consider how you want to advance your marketing efforts through social media. We often see people confusing goals and objectives. Goals are the broad, big-picture outcomes you hope to achieve. For example, increase brand awareness or maximize engagement with followers. Objectives, on the other hand, are more specific, actionable and measurable. For example, increase our number of followers on Facebook by 20%.
  2. Target audiences
    Just as you determine how to reach your target audience through mass media for an advertising campaign, you need to understand how your target audience uses social media to effectively reach and engage them. Research demographic data for each of the social channels you’re considering. According to Sprout Social, “As the social space is constantly changing, it’s [helpful] to know updated statistics as you revisit your decisions and tailor content to the way your audience uses different platforms.”
  3. Platform
    Using the demographic data for each social media channel, determine where you’ll focus your efforts on social media. You do not need to have a presence on all platforms. Rather, understand where your target audience is and meet them there. In our next post in this series, we’ll take a closer look at multiple social media platforms to help you determine where to focus.
  4. Branding
    Once you decide on the social media platforms where you’ll focus your attention, determine how you’ll extend your branding to your accounts. What graphic elements will you use as a profile image and a banner graphic? Write the “About” or “Bio” section to reflect who you are and what you do. All of these elements, as well as the content of your posts, should have a voice and look consistent with your other marketing efforts.
  5. Content
    Once you know how to reach your target audience on social media, determine the types of content you’ll share through organic posts. Make sure it is relevant and meaningful to your audience. Follow the 80/20 rule. The majority of your content, 80%, should be focused on the needs of your audience. Demonstrate your expertise through helpful information, such as tips to help people caring for loved ones at home or ways caregivers can care for themselves. The remaining 20% can be about your organization, such as an organizational announcement or a promotion for an event or a fundraiser.
  6. Metrics
    Looking back at your goals and objectives, how will you measure the success of your social media efforts? Your metrics should tie back to your objectives. Here are some of the ways you can monitor the effectiveness of your social media activity for organic posts:

    • Post Reach – the number of people who saw your content during a given period
    • Engagement – determine the average engagement rate by totaling the number of likes, comments and shares compared to the total number of followers. According to Hootsuite, “Facebook and Twitter, for example, typically have lower engagement rates (e.g., 0.5% to 1%). Instagram, on the other hand, is known for its relatively high engagement rates (e.g., 3% to 6%).”
    • Audience Growth – track the growth of your followers over a given period of time. This will help you monitor how quickly you are gaining followers.

Planning is indeed everything. Whether you’re expanding your social media efforts or refining your longstanding social presence, developing a plan and monitoring your progress are keys to success. Our next post in this series will address the ins and outs of a variety of social media platforms to consider for engaging your target audience.

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