Recipe for Social Media Planning, Process, and Profits

You have been tasked with setting up a social media program for your small or medium sized biz (on top of your 53 other jobs).  So you’ve combed the net.  You’ve read blog post after blog post.  Maybe you’ve even tried to wade through the flood of social media books that have hit the shelves in the past couple of years (like The New Rules of Marketing and PR or The Zen of Social Media Marketing).  You have dipped your toes into the water, but your boss is now chomping at the bit for something that sounds a little less like Marshmallow fluff and peanut butter on a couple of heels and more like a seven course gourmet meal.  Lucky you!

This article is meant to help you make some quick strides toward setting up an impressive social media program that gets results.  So put on your chef’s hat and let’s get to cookin’!

Start with the Right Ingredients

You don’t have to spend hours of your personal time social networking on LinkedIn or Facebook, Tweeting, surfing YouTube, or combing the forums to know how to setup a corporate social media program.  All you need are a few key ingredients… we can boil it down to the basics using the Five W’s.

  • Why: Spell out the business questions, goals, and purpose you have for your program.  This will be more about the high level overview and vision, whereas the ‘What’ will dive into specific goals.
  • Who: Which teams or individuals will be involved in the program?  What are their specific roles and responsibilities?
  • What: You’ll want to specify what your program intends to deliver – keep in mind that whatever you set as your intentions, they should have measurable outcomes.  I talk more about goals and what to measure in my last blog post Actionable Social Media Metrics to Hit the Top 3 Corporate Goals.
  • Where: Determine the best focal areas for your program – do you already have a YouTube channel or Facebook page?  Maybe start there.  Twitter is also a good starting point if that’s where a lot of the conversation about your brand is happening.  Hint: Blogs and Forums are great places to establish your Subject Matter Experts and provide a wealth of information, but from an engagement standpoint they tend to require a bigger time commitment.
  • When: Be realistic about the amount of time you and your team members can devote to the program and plan that time wisely.  Also set a calendar for any engagement activities and/or reporting requirements for the program.  Tip: if your program involves tweeting, Dan Zarrella at HubSpot advises that  tweets sent out toward the end of a business day tend to get more visibility and retweets.

The Complete Menu

Here is where you pull those ingredients together into a tantalizing menu to wow your boss with a full-course meal that would satisfy a king (or large enterprise)!  After outlining the Five W’s above, I recommend your social media program playbook contain the following components:

  1. Workflow and Processes
    1. Outline tools and systems to be used and how they fit into day-to-day workflow
    2. Diagram the daily flow for managing and working with content
      1. where content will be found
      2. who will work with it
      3. how it will handled and tagged
      4. what the escalation process is
  2. Policies
    1. Define what content is considered to be actionable or non-actionable
    2. Note any specific policies such as:
      1. dealing with angry customers
      2. protecting customer privacy
      3. using signature lines in corporate responses (Tip: Include a unique word or name in your signature line, such as ‘AcmeResponseTeam’ so you can easily track your own content later on)
  3. Best Practices
    1. This section should provide general guidelines around how to talk to customers in the social media space.  Here are 5 recommended best practices:
      1. Be human (not canned)
      2. Use a friendly, yet professional tone (never put down a customer!)
      3. Be transparent (i.e. don’t lie about your corporate representation!)
      4. Provide valuable information (social media outreach is more about giving than receiving – be generous)
      5. Be concise (short responses that answer the question are usually best)
  4. Reporting
    1. This goes back to your goals – track the metrics that will show progress toward your social media goals.  Keep a ‘scorecard’ and know how and what data and results you plan to show to key stakeholders.
    2. Be sure to circulate information.  You might be surprised who in the company could benefit from knowing about your social media program and findings.

The Social Media Gourmet Chef

Now that you’ve got the essential ingredients and a great menu to work with, you will undoubtedly soon be elevated to the level of Social Media Chef Extraordinaire!  Your own creativity and additional experience will take your social media program to great new heights.  I wish you much success along the way.

Kindly Yours,


Vicki, A Social Media Yogi in the Making

  • Tom Schmitz


    This is beautifully done.
    Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V

    • Vicki

      Thanks Tom, much appreciated!

  • heaps!

    Great post Vicky! Thank you very much, that was very helpful :) Looking forward to hearing more from you!

  • Oscar Alvarez

    Nice article.! thanks.

  • Jason mKey

    Wow. Well done. A no nonsense game plan. Beautiful

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  • Vicki

    Hi Tom, heaps!, Oscar, and Jason,

    Your comments are greatly appreciated, thank you! Although I’ve been working for Visible and helping clients get into social media tracking, monitoring, and engaging for a few years now, I am just starting to write about it. So if you have any questions or other areas you’d like to see covered on our blog here, don’t be shy!

    Kind Regards,

  • Media Agency

    I believe it is good for businesses and marketing departments to realise that social media is not as simple as creating accounts over social networks and posting links. I believe it requires comprehensive media planning,most of which is described in the post.

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  • Media Buying Agencies

    This post was certainly informative and contains useful content for enthusiastic visitors. I will definitely bookmark this blog for future reference and further viewing. Thanks a bunch for sharing this.