The old saying “if you fail to plan you plan to fail” is a sarcastic way of saying be sure to plan. With many new technologies some people simply do the “Just Do IT!” and start blogging, connecting in social networking sites and commenting with links everywhere (no pun intended on the NIKE tag line.) Before you spend time, resources and energy ask yourself: where are you going? Where do you want to be a year from now? What are your goals and business targets? Is social media a trial balloon at this stage? or is it a critical element in your marketing work? What do you need to carry out an effective social media operation? Who will do the work and what resources and skills do they need? Any serious marketing plan needs research, testing, strategy, understanding of fundamental qualities of the new media. Do you need a strategy? Do you have tactics and ways to manage your work?
Planning, researching, re-training and developing new skills are not something that show progress. Actually, some people see preparation and planning as a step back. This may be true in terms of actual output. When you are getting ready to deploy social media, progress is not measured by click statistics and messages. To show progress you may have to show tests you have done, prototype or research results or even training or certification diplomas. Training may be the most vital phase in transitioning into new media. Learning how to use tools, what techniques work and how, understanding new concepts and applying them effectively lead to thinking differently. (I do not call it “thinking in a new way”) Thinking is what make a personal transition complete. Without a thinking shift planning is not going to reflect any change and will not help in the future. Essentially a different way of thinking gives people a way to see the future. Thus the title: “where do you want to go?” (no pun intended for the Microsoft tag line)
A few observation for individuals who want to do social media planning. First of all you need to know and do social media. This is more than just writing a blog about your travels the last three years. As planner and strategist you need to be clear on how to achieve goal and get something done. Social media for business brings in customers, informs potential buyers or helps a sales channel with distributing information. Social media for promotion or non-profit organization is usually targeted at influencing certain people, sometimes a few like law makers, sometimes many like a voting public. This means knowing how to track media and promoting a cause. It also means doing it on a massive scale. The tools and techniques to do this are here, now it is your turn to plan, execute and show results. We are seeing a shift from the general theories of what social media CAN do – to what IS being done. Marketing managers want their message clearly and effectively delivered. This has been true with marketing and advertising all along, just now the tools are becoming better than what we had before. I will write more about social media plans. This is not a simple topic to be covered with one article.