Social media is not about hard sell, or building up fan numbers. It’s about you and the relationship you have with your audience. Like all good relationships, it’s about building trust, having meaningful conversations and connecting with the people that matter.

Don’t get stuck on vanity metrics (numbers which look good on paper but actually don’t help your business goals). Try to do what you enjoy. Not only will you be more successful on social media but you’ll also have more fun. And if you’re having fun and being genuine, you’ll get a better response from your audience. It’s a win-win.

Having a strategy – and sticking to it – is essential to build engagement. It’s worth putting aside a couple of hours to make a quick, high level social media plan. Two hours invested now will mean you reap rewards later: set out your intentions so you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

The Social Media Reboot is a mini version of my Social Media Launch Pack. It’s 4 pages of templates for freelancers, sole traders and micro businesses (where you’re likely to be managing your own social media – and you’ll find it easier if your online voice reflects you).

Chose either printouts or editable Google Docs. Each folder contains:

  • Planner (pages 1-2)
  • Content Calendar (page 3)
  • KPI Spreadsheet (page 4).

Once you’ve got the templates in front of you, ask yourself the following eight questions. Try to answer as honestly and freely as you can!

Social Media Reboot - Plan (page 1)
Social Media Reboot – Planner (page 1)

1. Why do I want to use social media?

Do you have a new product or brand and want to build awareness? Perhaps you want to chat with existing customers and find out what they like or don’t like. Maybe you have a hunch about a gap in the market and want to research that. You may want to join conversations around a certain topic. Or simply find more people who might be interested in your product or service. Decide why it is you want to be on social media, and list the top three on page 1 under “GOALS”.

2. How will I behave?

How do you most like to communicate, what comes most naturally to you? Do you prefer words, images, audio and/or video? What tone of voice are you most comfortable with: formal or informal, cheeky or serious? Will you be political or apolitical? Will you be lightweight or deadly serious? What’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate for you and your audience? Choose the five most important points and list them on page 1 under “GUIDELINES”.

3. Who will I connect with?

Who are your potential customers? Or users of a service? And who influences them? Do they listen more to certain journalists or academics? Maybe they prefer parenting bloggers or celebrities? Is there anyone regularly sharing best practice or good advice in your market or sector? How about organisations? Is there a market leader that everyone respects or wants to work for? Are there professional membership organisations or other industry bodies? Group these people into different categories and list them on page 1 under “AUDIENCE”.

Social Media Reboot - Planner (page 2)
Social Media Reboot – Planner (page 2)

4. Which social networks will I focus on?

Where does your audience hang out online? What social media do they use? These are the networks you want to be on! Focus on doing 1 – 3 networks really well rather than a whole load badly. Write your three preferred social networks on page 2 under “SOCIAL NETWORKS”.

5. What will I talk about?

What are you passionate about? What excites you? What do you want to talk about? And where does this overlap with what your audience is interested in? Find the hashtags that are relevant to your product or service, run a search to find conversations – and join in. Try to focus on just three topics to start with. They can be as broad or as niche as you like. List these on page 2 under “KEY TOPICS”.

6. What can I give?

What content can you share that’s valuable to your audience? What experience do you have that others could learn from? How can you talk about your ideas and passions, things that you love, in a way that is useful to others? Is there anything you’ve read, seen or listened to lately that people might be interested in?

Maybe you could report from industry events, or offer advice or tips. You could consider running a series of interviews with experts (and clients). Maybe you could give something away (like a free consultation or special offer). You might want to run a campaign around a new product launch or strategy, using a dedicated hashtag.

Is there a political cause you’re passionate about or social issue you’d like to support (something that also matters to your audience/ community). Or perhaps you could run an event for your community (great for new content) or a live Twitter Q&A? What are the human stories you’d like to share – lessons that others could benefit from?

Think about blog posts, photo diaries, infographics, slide decks or short research papers. You can get creative with gifs, podcasts, video how-tos or live-streams. Choose items that fit your brand values and help you meet your business goals. Remember, one piece of content can go a long way. A blog post can be a Facebook update + tweet + Instagram photo + Pin + Linkedin article.

List three key ideas on page 2 under “CONTENT STRANDS”. You can flesh these out and add more using the monthly Content Calendar template (page 3).

Calendar p3
Social Media Reboot – Content Calendar (page 3)
Example - content calendar for an interior design consultant
Social Media Reboot – Content Calendar (page 3) – example filled out for an interior design consultant

7. Who shall I benchmark against?

It’s always worth taking a look at what your competitors are doing, and learning from them. The great thing about social media is that everything is public. You’ll be able to see what campaigns they’re running and what hashtags they prefer, as well as the day to day tactics they use to engage with their audience. You can identify what they do well and what they do badly, and maybe see where you might have an advantage over them. If you don’t feel you have any direct competitors, then look at products or services with a similar business model to yours (eg. online retail or events consultancy). Or simply look at brands or businesses that inspire you. Choose five competitors or role models and list them on page two under “BENCHMARKS”.

8. How will I measure success?

It’s easy to use social media without thinking about your long term goals. But visualising what you actually want to achieve will help you do better. A KPI – or key performance indicator – is a way of measuring whether or not your strategy is on the right track.

Go back to the three goals you wrote down on page 1. Against each goal, set a social media metric (KPI). Then set a target for that metric, something that would look good to you in 6 months time.

Set targets that are realistic and achievable, but also aspirational. And make sure you can access the data easily. You can use tools like Twitter Analytics, Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics to track changes.

Social Media Reboot - KPI Spreadsheet (page 4)
Social Media Reboot – KPI Spreadsheet (page 4)
Social Media Reboot - KPI Spreadsheet (page 4) - example filled out for an online publishing business
Social Media Reboot – KPI Spreadsheet (page 4) – example filled out for an online publisher

That’s it – well done

You have your plan, now you just need to implement it! If you’re short on time, you may want to look at How to create engaging content every day using RSS and The easy way to schedule social media. These articles contain tools and tips to help you manage your social media in just 15 minutes a day.

I’d love to know if you find these Social Media Reboot templates useful. Please let me know in the comments, or chat to me on Twitter @JemimaG.

Featured photo by Social Cut on Unsplash