The concept of GIGO—garbage in, garbage out—was coined half a century ago by IBM programmer George Fuechsel. The idea still holds true today: If the data you input is bad, your results will be too. Although meant for computer science, GIGO is just as apt for your company’s social media. There are many variables in successful social media, but to get where you want to go, you need a plan.
A strong social media plan requires that you go beyond tactics and tech and return to first principles. Here are five Ws to cut through the clutter and help frame the way you think about your social media plan to make it smoother, more efficient and more effective.
The Five Ws
- Why you have social media: Objectives like thought leadership or growth of market share are important, but you have to get to a deeper level of why. The purpose of your social media should fulfil your company’s business objectives. For social media objectives that are truly cohesive, craft them with your company vision, mission and values in front of you.
- Who you interact with: The better your handle on the demographics—and psychographics—of your company’s target market, the easier your social media plan will be to create and to execute. The more granular you can get the better. For example, a plan tailored to embedded developers in Denmark will look and feel significantly different from one for rugged tech procurement officers in the US military. To do this right, you need open and honest communication with your product marketing, sales and business development teams—and you need data. No silos allowed.
- What content you prioritize: Think of social media as an ongoing conversation in a noisy town square or at a party. To instigate and maintain the relationships you want, you need to develop a formula that strikes a balance between curated content (thought leadership, educational, issue-related, whimsical) and self-promotion (original blogs, news, features and benefits, polls, news coverage, sales). Every company is different, but the rule of thumb is to keep sales pitches to a minimum. It’s not cool to talk about yourself all the time in any conversation. (And remember, since this is a conversation, you have to plan how you listen—and how you utilize this valuable intel—as well as how you speak.)
- Where you create a presence: Once you have articulated your objectives, your audience and your content formula, the determination of which platforms to join is a simple—though labor-intensive—exercise. It’s also important to take stock of your resources, because it costs more to use multiple platforms.
- When you weigh in: This includes both how often and at what times you post, which also flows out of the previous points. Once you arrive at this point you can congratulate yourself that you are over the strategy hump and are into tactics and logistics like who manages your social media, which scheduler you use, image management, hashtags, resources and the like.
Benefits of a strong social media plan
- Ensures that your content is consistent and regular. This is an absolute must to keep your audience’s trust in your company and your brand. Forbes calls content consistency a key to a brand’s success. Sure, this is obvious, but you don’t have to click far to find companies with neglected brand accounts.
- Allows you to (sort of) forget about it. Social media is a 24/7 world, but once your plan is in operation, you can move onto other things with the knowledge that you have your bases covered.
- Saves time. Efficient social media workflows make the best use of your staff’s time to create and manage content.
- Maximizes benefits so you can raise awareness, attract customers, build relationships, build loyalty, access market research and more. A lean, well-executed social plan with proper KPIs ticks all the boxes.
We can help you
Want help with the creation or execution of your social media marketing plan? We’ve got you covered. Give HCI a call or send us a message today.