Some of you might be familiar with the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true in many of our everyday tasks, from making sure you have a shopping list to creating an emergency plan in case a crisis ever strikes. Planning is especially important when talking about any kind of communications plan or strategy development. However, the speed of execution sometimes makes that task difficult to complete.
I still hear, from time to time, the dreaded phrase “we need a Facebook Page,” or “we need to be on Twitter.” This is fine, and for the most part true, but creating a profile on Facebook or handle on Twitter doesn’t lead to immediate success. And instead, you may be disappointed in the results if you rush in headlong. It’s best to take a step back, breathe deeply and think about why you think Facebook or Twitter will benefit your company. Do some initial research about each platform to learn about the strengths, weaknesses, and tools available. Brainstorm to develop an effective plan on how not only to create a presence, but also to capitalize on these platforms and tools to help achieve your business goals.
Solid planning also allows you to gauge where you are, in terms of overall effectiveness. Evaluate your entire industry and take a really close look at your competitors to learn some best practices. You’ll discover what’s working and what isn’t and gain deeper insights into social media platforms. With a little bit of luck, you’ll start picking up the language, too.
Once you feel confident that you understand this new space, it’s time to look at measurement. Once you launch this Facebook page or start tweeting on Twitter, how will you know how it’s going? By taking the extra time to plan, you give yourself the opportunity to develop a system for tracking and measuring. Even more importantly, you can record from the onset how your social media efforts on these new tools can tie back into your overall business goals.
I am personally a very goal-oriented person. The main reason I think goals are important is because they give you something to measure yourself against. After all, how do you know where you want to go if you don’t even know where you are? Once you have goals set, the next step is to utilize what you learned from the research phrase. Analyze the best practices insights and target audience research you gathered to develop a road map to help you get to your destination. And just like planning a road trip requires accounting for some unexpected stops, as well as some necessary pre-planned detours, so too, should your communications plan, or your plan for pretty much anything.