flickr and facebook

There are three major stages to developing a social media plan.

Similar to the steps that would be required to build a Mustang from classic Mustang parts, a social media plan is a deliberate exercise of effort. All of the pieces must fit together, and steps must be taken in consequential order. If not, the plan will not work and the business objectives your company wishes to accomplish would remain unmet.

Stage 1: Research

Pay attention to your target audience. You wont sell Mustang accessories to an individual looking for a yoga studio. You need to take the time to figure out what networks they frequent, the terms they use for searching those networks, and the various tools they depend on for gathering and disseminating information.

In addition, you must know what your competition is up to. Do they have a social media presence? And, if so, what methods are they using? Are their methods are successful?

Finally, after completing research, establish communities and begin establishing connections with your company's target audience. There are a number of research firms that often publish reports that provide a variety of demographic data, invaluable to a company looking to establish headway in the digital stratosphere.

Stage 2: Engagement Plan

The first thing to do in this stage is to develop content strategy. Figure out how you'll plan on developing blogs, newsletters, press releases, tutorials, whitepapers, guest blog posts, podcasts, and back linking. Create an editorial calendar that gives a plan on how often you will update your content. The goal should be 2-3 times week at the very minimum. That will cover updating frequency.

In addition, the overall goals of developing business leads, adding value, creating new loyal customers, and rewarding those customers that interact with you the most should be established. This stage will also require establishing a routine for engagement with clients, timely response to requests, and deflecting bad press.

Stage 3: Metrics And Measurement Strategy

This stage is where the plan will determine how success is measured. The measures of success might vary at different stages of plan implementation.

For instance, in stage one, success could be measured with how many people were added to a particular network. Yet in stage two, a measure of success would be how many mentions or retweets you received in a set period. Other areas that must be looked at are how much time is being spent and the result of that time, i.e. are leads being generated, are customers remaining loyal, and most importantly are you making a profit? Some handy tools to assist you with metrics are platforms like Sprout Social, Hoot Suite, and Co-tweet.