Every business owner, politician and good manager understands the need to conduct social media programs according to a plan. So why do so few of them have a social media plan to guide their own use of social media? This template will help you design a practical social media plan that leads you to your goals, and keeps you out of the ditches that line the road.
Do you want to use social media to:
- Change the world?
- Promote products and services?
- Advocate for causes?
- Build relationships with specific audiences?
- Support your community?
- Grow, maintain or strengthen personal friendships?
- Share aspects of your life with family and friends?
How much time do you want to spend on social media? How will it fit into your life / work balance?
Will you use your own name (recommended), will you post under a pseudonym, or will you post on behalf of an organization?
Audience quality vs. quantity:
Do you want as many followers as possible? Do you want a select following from a specific group, such as media or opinion leaders?
Character and Tone:
Public sector staff are held to high standards. Elected officials can make comments that are more colourful. Many private citizens don’t care what they say or who they offend. What standards, boundaries or codes of conduct will guide your decision making?
Who will be setting up and managing your accounts? How will passwords be created and managed? If you maintain multiple social media accounts, what software or systems will you use to ensure that you are posting the right information on the right account at the right time?
The world is a big place. Be specific about what groups or audiences you want to reach and engage with.
At a high level, explain how you will approach your entire social media program. For example: “I will maintain four personal social media accounts. My personal Twitter and LinkedIn accounts will focus on professional matters. My Facebook and YouTube accounts will focus on my relationships with family and friends.”
List general principles that will guide you. It may be helpful to ask yourself how you want to be remembered by friends and colleagues, five years after you retire. That will provide a sense of the personal ‘brand’ that you want to cultivate over time.
Describe a code of conduct that will get you there. For example: “I will not post when I am angry or emotional. I will use positive language. I will not debate topics on social media. I will strive to be polite and productive.”
What is your justification for having this account and how will it be used? For example: “This account will be used to deliver ‘news’ and to engage on matters related to my work, public affairs and my local community.”
What are your specific goals? For example, an elected official might have goals such as: “Building productive relationships with people in my community, growing my base of political support, and inspiring people to volunteer on future campaigns.”
We like to use a traffic light model here. What kinds of posts are obvious and safe for you? What topics or actions warrant caution? And what posts are career limiting? For example:
- Positive initiatives and events in my community.
- Promoting conferences that I am participating in.
- Answering resident complaints on Twitter.
- Commenting on matters in neighbouring municipalities.
- Commenting on government policies.
- Engaging in discussions that violate privacy rules.
- Debating topics or issues.
Once again, explain what this account is for. For example: “My Facebook page will be a polished, but accurate reflection of my life. It will be the coffee table book version of who I am. My approach will be fairly ‘private’, recognizing that everything I post can be shared, and therefore, actual ‘control’ over the content I share is not possible. I will only post pictures that my family or friends are likely to feel great about. I will not include photos that have geotags or other location tracking settings, and I will not post material that advertises that our family is away from home.”
State specific goals, such as: “Building, maintaining and enhancing my relationships with family and friends.”
Guidelines A traffic light model for Facebook might look like this:
- Photographs I am proud to have taken.
- Opportunities to say positive things about my communities.
- Posts that celebrate travel and exploration.
- Key moments in my life, or in the lives of close family or friends.
- Commentary on events or issues that I care about.
- Posts that reveal our family’s current location.
- Negative commentary.
- Posts that relate to local, provincial or federal politics.
- Photos that contain geotags or other location tracking features.
- Content that provides insights into family routines.
- Debating politics or issues (If someone wants to debate, I will call them, meet with them, or simply decline.)
Repeat the process. Provide an overview of why this account is justified, set specific goals and outline how you will use the account in a way that achieves those goals.
Lay out instructions for the management of your accounts. This is particularly important if staff or volunteers have access to your accounts and post on your behalf. For example: “I will create and own all my personal accounts. The following people will have access to passwords… Passwords can be changed using the following process… And I will use applications that allow me to shift between different accounts quickly. As such, I recognize the need to always check to ensure that I am posting on the right account, before I hit send.”