Do you have a social media marketing plan, or are you simply hoping and praying that your social media efforts will pay dividends? When it comes to business, I’d rather plan than hope. Let’s examine the nine planning steps necessary to generate business with social media.


Step 1: Assign the Resources

How are you going to handle your social media efforts? Will you do it in-house, or hire an agency for help? Depending on the size of your organization and its capabilities, it’s often best to do social media in-house with a cross-functional team. If you don’t have the resources, knowledge or capabilities, forge a close connection with a social media marketing agency that understands your business, marketing and technology, and cares about the growth of your company.


Step 2: Observe & Study

Make an effort to find out what is being said on social media about your brand and topics of importance to your business. Listen to what customers and competitors are saying. Look for areas of customer need not presently being served. Two free tools to help you in these efforts are Google Alerts and 


Step 3: Define Your Objective

Why are you using social media? To increase sales? Improve awareness? Retain customers? The more clearly you define your objective, the more focused you’ll find your efforts. If you have multiple objectives, it’s best to generate a separate strategy for each.


Step 4: Define Your Key Indicators of Success (KISS)

How will you know the impact social media is having? How will you measure ROI, awareness or retention? You need to define the metrics you will use to determine business impacts. 


Step 5: Know Your Audience

It’s important to define and understand who you will be interacting with on social media. List the demographic and the psychographic factors and use them to shape your content, style and efforts on social media. Talk about what’s important to your audience and customers — not what’s important to you.


Step 6: Define Why Someone Should Pay Attention to You

What are the things you are doing that bring customers and prospects value? Focus on what’s important to your audience and customers — not what’s important to you. 


Step 7: Define How to Be Human

On social media, you are competing for people’s attention with their friends and family members. If you sound like a corporate geek, you’ll have a hard time gaining attention and audience involvement. What will you do to act like a person, rather than a company? 


Step 8: Develop a Channel Plan

You need to determine what social media channels you will participate in and the business reasons for your participation in each channel. Base your participation on the business reasons behind the use of the channel, and your ability to make an impact. It’s better to do one social media channel well than it to do three poorly.


Step 9: Get Your Tools

The right social media tools will help you successfully implement your strategy and measure its impacts. Research the tools you will need to do the job effectively. Many will allow you to automate your posting and reporting processes, saving you valuable time. Some of the more popular tools include HootSuite and Sprout Social.

There you have it: the process and framework to develop your action plan for success with social media marketing. Take action and you will be well on your way to better results.