This is part five of our guide to social media for business.  Read part one to find out about setting objectivespart two for advice on choosing the right social media channels, part three to learn how to create a perfect social media profile, and part four to find out about identifying and interacting with influential people.

Here in part five, we’re going to look at how to put together a strategy for your social media campaign.

It can be tempting to start playing around with social media without a plan, but don’t – you’ll always get far more out of your time if you plan properly.

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Without a proper strategy, it’s easy to become lost under the noise. You’ll end up focusing your efforts in one area and will forget about the rest.

So, before you create your strategy……

Create a ‘stalk list’:

We explained how to do this in part 4.

And……

Confirm which sites you’re going to target:

In part two we spoke about identifying sites, so you should have a pretty good idea of the type of sites you want to target.

Now you just need to decide for certain which sites you want to use. If you can’t decide, refer back to part two and come back once you’re sure which social networks are right for you.

And finally……

Decide how much time you can afford to spend on social media:

You’re not going to be able to create an effective strategy without this information.

Aaaaand you’re ready…..

Step 1:

Create a list of every task you’d like to do each week, and how long you want to spend on each. The times in the example below are based on how long you will be spending on a task each time you carry it out – not the total spent in a week. Your list should look something like this:

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Step 2: Create a precise strategy that outlines every task you want to do each day. This should look something like this:

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Be sure to mix up the tasks so you don’t always have the same job at the top and the bottom of each day’s list.  There’s a good chance that some days you won’t make it to the bottom of the list, and if you always plan to complete the same task last, you might never get round to it.

Step 3:                                                                                     

Review your strategy regularly. At the end of each month, review your progress, analyse what’s been working and what hasn’t, and juggle your strategy based on your findings.

Remember however that the above is just an example of how you should organise your day-to-day social media activities; not a guide on how to execute a specific, targeted campaign – although the same principals could be applied to that too.

Make Life Easier for Yourself

And utilise some of the useful apps and tools available. Here are some of the best……

Hootsuite: Hootsuite allows you to manage a multitude of social networks from one platform including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.  Other useful features include the ability to track links using the platform’s URL shortner Ow.ly, and to create handy streams to help you monitor conversations of particular interest such as Hashtags and Tweeters that you particularly admire.

The basic Hootsuite is free, but agencies may need to invest in the very reasonably priced paid version.

Tweetdeck: Very similar to Hootsuite, and free too. Hootsuite seems to be the preferred choice of online marketers, but it’s worth giving a few tools a try to see which one’s a better fit for you.

Buffer: Another great tool that lets you manage multiple accounts from one platform.

Now you’ve got a strategy in place, you should be ready to start engaging. In part six, we’ll be looking at what you should say, and how you should say it.