Earlier this spring, Bianca Freedman, of the Credit Valley Hospital Foundation shared her experiences with social media planning at a meeting of cause marketers in Toronto. Bianca agreed to share her experiences and insights with my readers by answering a few interview questions…
Why is social media planning important?
Social media planning is important for two main reasons: securing internal support and ensuring an efficient use of resources. A good social media plan not only identifies the fun stuff – your goals, strategy and creative tactics, but it also demonstrates the sound business sense of using social media to advance your charitable organization.
Securing Internal Support: A well-written plan communicates a strong case for the use of social media. It should be created with all readers in mind; including the very green and the highly knowledgeable. It should also motivate and engage employees to get active online. The plan is essentially a case statement as well as a practical step-by-step document.
A plan that works well as a presentation and a document is necessary for board approvals, budget allocation and staff training.
Maximizing Efficiency: The planning process itself forces you to really think about why you are using social media and what kind of return you are looking for. It encourages you to take a hard look at how much staff time/budget it will require. The finished product maps out exactly how resources are used.
When it comes to the execution, simple, step-by-step tactics will make your life easier. When days are packed, social media often falls on the back burner. You may not have time to think about what this week’s conversation should be centered about for Facebook or Twitter. Having a detailed plan helps you to execute your social media activities easily, and with purpose.
What are the dangers of just participating without a plan?
Without a plan, your social media efforts could lack direction, making your brand vulnerable to a few dangers.
Fragmented brand: Social media activity engages multiple players across the organization. Without a plan, you can run the risk of a diluted brand image. The plan identifies key staff roles and ensures that everyone understands the purpose of social media activity and how it contributes to your organization’s mission.
Lack of purpose: A social media plan establishes realistic objectives and measurement tools to keep social media activities on track. A great plan ensures communication with purpose- focusing efforts on the goal; whether it is to increase awareness/ education or to generate online revenue.
Writer’s block: Your tactics help to sketch out a content development strategy much like an editorial calendar. It doesn’t have to be day-by-day, but provide a framework for idea generation. This helps you to avoid the common challenge of being lost for content. You may choose to create a conversation calendar around major events within your organization or community, tying into timely news items and daily chatter.
Crisis 2.0: Handling a social media crisis without a plan can be a dangerous undertaking. A solid crisis component helps you to navigate through issues online and maintain consistency. This important piece of the plan can make or break your brand in a challenging time.
Credit Valley Hospital Foundation on Twitter: @cvhfoundation
Lifetime of Care Blog: www.lifetimeofcare.blogspot.com
Convinced of the value of social media planning? In part two our interview, Bianca will share her thoughts on creating a plan, setting goals and objectives and measuring success.
Bianca Freedman is the Communications Coordinator for The Credit Valley Hospital Foundation. She has a particular interest in communication planning and has worked on plans for both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Most recently, she has conducted market research on ‘online moms’ and built a social media strategy for Canadian Living Magazine – part of their 35 year brand refresh.
Find Bianca on Twitter @BiancaFreedman