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Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

Posted Jun 10 2009 12:12am

There are lots of places you can go online for information about creating a social media marketing plan. In a post on, Peter Kim presents a list of 22 social media tools to consider integrating into your plan.

(From Peter’s post) Here’s a framework of 22 tools to consider with notable brand examples:

1. Blogs ( Johnson & Johnson, Delta Air Lines )
2. Bookmarking/Tagging ( Adobe, Kodak )
3. Brand monitoring ( Dell, MINI )
4. Content aggregation ( Alltop, EMC )
5. Crowdsourcing/Voting ( Oracle, Starbucks )
6. Discussion boards and forums ( IBM, Mountain Dew )
7. Events and meetups ( Molson, Pampers )
8. Mashups ( Fidelity Investments, Nike )
9. Microblogging ( method, Whole Foods )
10. Online video ( Eukanuba, Home Depot )
11. Organization and staffing ( Ford, Pepsi )
12. Outreach programs ( Nokia, Yum Brands )
13. Photosharing ( Rubbermaid, UK Government )
14. Podcasting ( Ericsson, McDonalds )
15. Presentation sharing ( CapGemini, Daimler AG )
16. Public Relations – social media releases ( Avon, Intel )
17. Ratings and reviews ( Loblaws, TurboTax )
18. Social networks: applications, fan pages, groups, and personalities ( British Airways, Saturn )
19. Sponsorships ( Coca-Cola, Whirlpool )
20. Virtual worlds ( National Geographic, Toyota )
21. Widgets ( Southwest Airlines, Target )
22. Wikis ( Second Life, T-Mobile Sidekick )

But looking at social media tools is really putting the cart before the horse. So how do you get started with a social media marketing plan? Generally, it should follow the model of a typical marketing plan:

  1. Identify Goals and Objectives
  2. Market Analysis (trends, needs, competition, best practices, etc)
  3. Social Media Program Components/Implementation (including integration with traditional campaign)
  4. Assessment and Allocation of Resources
  5. Monitoring and Measurement

That’s the big picture view. Now here are some more specific steps you should take when creating a social media marketing plan:

  1. Participate - If you’re not involved in social media, get involved. Consider this remedial training! At a minimum, join Facebook, LinkedIn, and start following some industry blogs. You will find it very difficult to sell or even construct a social media marketing plan if you aren’t familiar with the functionality, strengths and weaknesses of the various platforms.
  2. Culture/Preparedness – Start by assessing your organization’s appetite for social media? How risk averse are they? Determine the steps you will need to take to bring them along and prepare them for this venture into the world of social media. Ideally, presenting them with a well-reasoned, strategic social media marketing plan will help to make your leadership more comfortable with the idea.
  3. Target Audience - Define your targeting audience(s) and key stakeholders
  4. Objectives and Goals - Take each group (grateful patients, referring physicians, employees, reporters, influentials in the community) and outline your marketing objectives related to that group (keep it simple).  Examine how each group currently uses social media. Look at industry best practices and review the activities of your top competitors.
  5. Desired Outcomes – Clearly define the outcomes your organization would like to see: brand awareness/stature, enhanced search rankings and web traffic, increased preference, and improved patient volumes. And be as specific as possible. The outcomes you desire should impact the ways in which you measure results.
  6. Toolbox - Identify social media vehicles that help you accomplish your marketing objectives, by audience. This will become your toolbox! The vehicles you select need to take into account a number of factors including: resources available, desired outcomes, and ability to deliver your message/content. This assumes that you know the strengths of various social media platforms. (Hopefully you’ve done the earlier analysis of each group’s use of social media.)  This is the step that may require the most research. For example, you may not know what LinkedIn groups reach a specific target audience, so you’ll need to get online and start digging around. Join those groups and start following the conversation. Find out what these people care about and talk about. Another example, you’ll need to identify the top bloggers/thought leaders that you will want to influence?
  7. Integration – Define the process you will use to make sure the program is integrated with traditional marketing and branding efforts of your organization. And don’t forget about PR and media relations. There are lots of great social media tools that can make your PR program more effective. Be sure to integrate that into the plan as well. Internal communications should also be integrated into the plan.
  8. Plan Resources – Make your program sustainable and avoid social media fatigue! You’ll need to get tactical by identifying how you’ll use the platform given the resources you have available (internal or external). A great deal of information can be re-purposed and shared within various social media platforms. So think this through carefully. You also need to define workflow – and who will do the work. And who will develop content for these various outreach mechanisms? How will information flow within your organization to the content generators? You don’t have to do everything at once. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small and you can always grow the program.
  9. Measure – Determine how you will measure results. You will want to build in measurement tools.
  10. Monitor – Develop a plan for actively monitoring social media.
  11. Policy – Develop an ‘employee social media policy.’ You need one of these anyway, but with an increase in social media engagement by your organization, having an employee social media policy becomes more important.

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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