With the rapid proliferation of social media networks and social media tools having a social media networking plan is the key to using them effectively. A social media networking plan empowers to you simplify your social networking efforts by aligning your social networks with your business goals. A social networking plan will also help you track results - so you can see how effective each network is in achieving your business goals and, if necessary, try other networks. That way you don't waste time in a social network if it is not meeting your identified goals.
Here are 6 essential elements of an effective social media networking plan
Establish your social networking goals
Hint: Being on the popular social media networking sites because everyone else is on them and you feel left out isn't a goal. Everyone knows about Twitter, Linked In and Facebook however these are not the only social networks there are.
Is your goal to raise awareness of your brand? Promote your products? Develop leads? Share your expertise? Network with like-minded people? Get referrals? Then choose a social network that matches that goal and you will get greater success than simply choosing one at random. Your goals should be business goals. Articulate them and write them down. Statistics say that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. It's no different in social media networking.
Choose your social networking sites carefully
Since there are literally hundreds of social networking sites you will need to do some experimentation to find what fits your business goals. Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In are the most well-known (with Twitter being the site of the hour), and while they are excellent sites they are not the only social networking sites by a long shot.
Sticking with just these three may mean you are on the popular sites; however, take care you're not missing out on other or additional business networking opportunities. For example, while building relationships is the bedrock of doing business online or off, some business social networking sites are more open to promotion alongside relationship building while others frown on or prohibit product or service promotion in various degrees.
Decide on your ideal contacts
Who are you looking for? While you may have hundreds of contacts if you decide who you want to reach out to and make deeper connections with the upfront your social networking will be more effective. Are you looking for corporate executives, authors, writers, recruiters? Be clear about who you want to connect with because that will determine how you connect with them. Focus on finding like-minded people who share your goals and match your target market. Be selective rather than accepting every invite that comes your way.
Once you've chosen your social networks, participate regularly by contributing valuable content, sharing your expertise, answering questions, listening, and making new connections. You should also show how you can meet an identified need. Drive traffic back to your own sites by including your signature, site, and blog links in your posts, articles, videos, etc.
Plan your time for social networking
It's important to allocate your time for participation in social networks up-front and this is where having a social networking plan will help. Many businesses jump in with no real plan, find other things take priority, and quickly get overwhelmed with the amount of time it takes to participate fully. Be patient and develop a strong focused network that supports your business goals.
Track and measure your results
Small businesses suffer from a lack of time because they are doing everything themselves. Invest time in building solid relationships, but make sure these are relationships that move you towards your goals. If you've set success measures for your social networking from the outset you can track how successful you are in meeting them and make changes accordingly. Success measures could be, for example, the number of referrals received, number of times your free offer has been downloaded, number of leads obtained, or followed up, sign-ups to your e-zine, or similar. While getting traffic to your blog or site is good, you just tie what you are doing into your financial goals and plan.