It all starts with a plan

This is post is part of the Institutionalizing Social Media series. To see previous installments or to learn more about the series, click here.

After setting the groundwork for a social media structure across the company, it is important to set up a Roadmaproadmap for future success. This will not only help you get all of your ducks in a row, but it will also help the organization see where you envision the company playing and being integrated in the next one to five years.

You don’t have to go back and re-read the last sentence, the line reads one to five years and that is what you should be planning for, not just the here and now.

Getting started

The first thing to do is to step back and look at the company as a whole. What functional units can use social technologies to improve their communications with customers? Some common areas include: marketing, product management, PR, user experience and quality assurance.

Jot down the areas of your company that you think can benefit from a touch of social media. Then think of things that each area should do, for example; is your product team looking to expand its audience? A Twitter search and communications training could have them up and running in no time. This could be listed as a near-term goal that could be accomplished in a year, so add that into the matrix. In many of the areas you may find things that you would love to see accomplished but will take over a year before implementation, mark those down as well.

Be technology agnostic

The timeline of one to five years may sound daunting as the technology in the social media space is ever-changing so predicting which technology that you will be using is somewhat of a folly. Instead, focus on the principles and methodology that your team and the company will be focusing on. This agnostic view will allow you to focus on execution instead of revamping your roadmap every time a new platform comes along. This also allows you to evaluate new technologies to see if they fit your road map as they come along.

What are you measuring?

No matter what the size of your company or the size that you would like to grow your social media integration to, one thing is constant – you need to measure your success.

Now don’t be scared of the word measurement – you don’t have to be a math wizard to measure things. All you need are a series of benchmarks for each team involved with the roadmap so that you can validate the use of the time. There is no right or wrong thing to measure, so choose something that relates what you are trying to move the needle on.

For example if you are trying to increase sales of a particular product, track the dollars earned via the social channel or if you are looking to increase awareness, measure the mentions each month to see if you are increasing the mentions and if not can see areas that need improvement. If you don’t have this in place, stop what you are doing and get that down before moving forward. Some basic metrics that I’ve used in the past can be found here.

Share it

Writing up a plan is great, it really is. But that is just half of the battle. To really make the plan actionable, you will need to book time with the other areas of the company and present and sell the plan to them.

This may be challenging, but is something that needs to be accomplished to win the battle. To help get firm footing on the material or confidence in your presenting, start out with the teams that you’ve identified as internal advocates. This will also help spread the excitement for the program to folks who may not be as keen on the social expansion.

With a solid plan in place and internal buy-in, the only thing left now is to start the ball rolling on the execution phase.

Tune in next week for the next installment of Institutionalizing Social Media, if you want to get it sent to your email, please click here.

Image – Brain farts

4 Responses to It all starts with a plan
  1. joebertino
    June 1, 2011 | 6:23 pm

    This is awesome, Jeff. I read your opening paragraph and my first thought was that it’s crazy to plan 5 years out when we don’t even know what technology, jobs, even industries will exist. But, then I got to your “be technology agnostic” section and I felt much, much better. Super smart. I think when dealing with technology and social media it’s easy to want to jump in the deep end, but thoughtfully crafting a strategy that plays off your brand values and encourages the right kind of participation is key to long-term success. I’ve been trying to bring my parents up to speed on how sm and tech can help their small business, so this will come in handy. Cheers!

  2. jeffespo
    June 2, 2011 | 3:48 am

    @joebertino Thanks for swinging by Joe. When I first was asked to show a plan further out than a year, I thought hell that is impossible then started to think of the Myspace era and how quick that lost its luster. It is all about the strategy and not the tools. What kind of business does your family run? You might also want to check out for SMB tips for them too.

  3. joebertino
    June 2, 2011 | 1:56 pm

    @jeffespo Will do, thanks. My family has owned and operated a summer day camp for over 40 years. My parents have been running it since the late 90’s and obviously keeping up with tech and social media has been a challenge over the last couple of years, especially considering the fact that we only operate two months out of the year. I’ve been working with them to establish two engagement strategies: one for the summer and one for our rather long off-season. But, and I’ve realized this the hard way, coming up with a strategy is nothing compared to the struggle I face getting my less than tech-savvy family to embrace change. Pulling teeth is an understatement, ha!

  4. Social media in action
    June 8, 2011 | 12:07 am

    […] an action they are just stuff. Similarly, the basic ingredients in a social media plan (discussed here) need to be set into motion to be more than just theories on getting away from the social silo and […]