By: Bernia Wheaton
As summer draws to a close and we return our focus to work and to school, we can reflect back on a myriad of activities and adventures that filled the season. Hopefully, the summer meant a vacation or a holiday of sorts. Perhaps you were lucky enough to jet of on an international excursion, or maybe you spent countless hours driving across country taking in sights and events. Or maybe, if you’re like me, you hunkered down at a lakefront vacation home to enjoy sun and sand with your friends and family. No matter what type of vacation you enjoyed, I am most certainty, that it didn’t come about at the spur of the moment.
I cannot imagine that a successful vacation begins on a Saturday morning at nine o’clock with a, “Okay everyone, vacation starts now. Get your things, we’re wheels-up in twenty minutes.” I can envision kids and adults alike, running around throwing things haphazardly into suitcases and backpacks. Without a map or GPS in hand, the car heads aimlessly down the road. “We’ll get there eventually,” the clan is assured.
When you finally arrive, tired and disheveled, reality sets in. You have one pair of underwear, the swimsuit you packed hasn’t fit in a decade, you have no toothbrush, but hallelujah, you did remember to pack the toothpaste. It just happens to be the kind that everyone in the family hates. You stagger and stumble through the first few days, managing to get by with the meager items in your possession. As you sit by the pool and turn the page to chapter five, your stomach growls and you suddenly remember that poor Leo the cat is at home with no one to feed or water him.
Okay. Admittedly, this scenario is ludicrous. No one embarks on a vacation without detailed planning. Accommodations are arranged. Tickets are purchased for festivals, sights, and events. Weather forecasts are checked to ensure you pack appropriate clothing. Maps are consulted to ensure you get to your destination quickly and without incident. Suitcases are packed and repacked. Neighbors are recruited to take care of your dear sweet Leo.
Without knowing it, you’ve put together a PLAN.
So why don’t we do the same with Social Media?
There seems to be an incredible urgency to creating a social media presence, but are you really prepared to embark on this journey? The reality is that in 2014, everyone is doing social media. Unfortunately, not everyone is doing it well. Why is that? Well, it’s likely because they hopped onto the social media bandwagon without a map or a swimsuit. (Okay, I’m a little fuzzy on that analogy myself, but go with me on this one.)
A Social Media plan doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it will be the foundation for a more successful and rewarding online experience.
What makes up a decent plan?
Just like a vacation, you want to choose your destination and establish your goals. Take the time to identify what you want to accomplish and what your ideal outcomes will be.
Defining your target audience will be instrumental in choosing the appropriate social media network(s) for your message.
Oh yeah. Your message. You’ll want to plan out what that is, too. Photos, text, video, or sound. What is our approach to inbound comments and criticism? Taking the time to anticipate and plan, will reduce the stress of crisis management.
There are a dozen other components to an effective strategy. And believe it or not, it’s not too late to pull over and purchase a map. And a toothbrush. Please, do us all a favor and don’t forget the toothbrush.
Conferences like @Midwest 2014 give you the opportunity to learn about the best practices in social media planning and implementation. I hope you enjoy the 2014 conference, and I look forward to meeting you this September.
Now, if you don’t mind…I have to go start packing for my trip to Bloomington-Normal.