It’s that time of year — when strategists, media buyers and creative teams lock themselves into the largest conference room possible and start brainstorming for the upcoming years’ plan for their clients. Only this time, there’s a new voice that will be contributing to the madness.

Social media is no longer a fad. In fact, if properly strategized and integrated into a complete plan, it can be a significant force to your overall advertising and marketing landscape, and a driving factor to increased website visits.

Key phrase here: IF properly planned and strategized.

Think of it this way: You wouldn’t just show up to a blind date without planning, would you? Ideally you’d shower, brush your teeth and — if nothing else — know where you’re going to meet your date. Same goes for dates number two, three and four…assuming, of course, that you make it that far.

Yes social media is like dating — if you are unorganized and leave a bad impression, you’ll get nowhere fast. To prevent that outcome, I offer you these tips to use when you’re getting ready to pull the trigger on a social media program.

1. Know your Audience. Is your identified target audience present and active in the social arena? If they aren’t, and you are using social tools to talk with (not at mind you) them, you’re wasting your time.

2. Cohesiveness is Key. Social media tactics are to be treated just like any other PR, direct mail, or TV/radio tactics. Your social presence needs to be parallel to any and all initiatives — its part of the team, not THE team.

3. Research. Right up there with knowing if your audience exists in social networks is knowing what are your competitors and peers are doing. Who are they talking to? What are they doing right, and/or wrong? You wouldn’t fly a plane if you didn’t study up on how to operate it, would you? Didn’t think so.

4. Expectations and Goals. Establish clear expectations and goals before your jump into the social pool. Your social existence should not define your goals. To that end, keep your goal realistic. If a goal of yours is to get 1,000,000 followers in 24 hours, you’re doing it wrong.

5. Don’t be THAT Person. You want to be noticed for your professional and true-to-brand voice, not the voice that is more faker than a spray tan. No one likes arrogance — especially online. Curating appropriate content, delivering your message and interacting with your audience in the most authentic and genuine way possible will get you very far in the social arena.

6. Tool Belt vs. Blue Prints. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — these are social media tools — they are not strategies. These are channels to distribute your planned social tactics, which fold into your larger strategy. You need tools to build a house — you don’t need a house to use the tools.

7. Track, Measure, Tweak, Repeat. Your social media plan is a living & breathing plan. As such, you need tracking mechanisms in place to help measure your realistic social plan goals. What’s working? What could be tweaked? Make necessary changes and keep moving forward.

8. The Path to Information. Social media tactics funnel into a larger strategy, have calls to action and clear-cut goals, such as “heads in beds,” sales/conversions, etc. Because social channels are limiting, you must send your audience somewhere, typically to your website. Make sure the path you encourage your audience to venture on is a free of clutter, and easy to navigate. If you distract them, or send them in circles, you haven’t done your job. (Remember the “K.I.S.S.” principle? It applies here.)

Those weren’t so bad, now were they? If you still have a few questions, or would like to talk about it in more detail, email me at kklein@boelterlincoln.com or look for us on Twitter or Facebook.

Katie Klein

Social Media Marketing Manager

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