Part of what makes social media an attractive tool in your PR shed is that it’s free. But as any organization knows (or should know), time spent is money spent. There is a perception that social media efforts require a ton of time. False! Like anything, a bit of strategy and planning can save time, improve quality and reduce headaches. We suggest having an editorial plan for your online presence, consisting of a mission statement, style guide, editorial staff, and calendar.
Last month, B-Sides covered how to build a social media brand. Brief recap for those on vacation: Select five keywords that will be the foundation of your brand: three associated with product/services, one lifestyle interest, and one community involvement issue/topic/organization. Plug these words into Google Alerts to receive a daily email notifying you when the word pops up in news, on blogs, etc. Instant content without spending the morning searching the Internets for something to post!
These keywords are only the beginning of building your online strategy. Next, we suggest drafting a mission statement. At A-Train, we are all about mission statements. They’re no longer just for non-profits and businesses. We have to resist drafting a mission statement to inform our trip to the store. Your social media mission statement should be as unique as your organization. Go beyond the obvious desire to “attract fans,” “bring exposure to your product/service,” and “be popular.” Instead, succinctly describe how you will accomplish the above and reference the keywords you’ve selected. “Steve the Plumber’s Facebook page intends to dispel common plumbing misunderstandings and take down stereotypes about ‘plumber cracks.’” This is a good example of an item worth having in your social media mission statement.
Think about your online presence as a publication. Every publication worth its salt has a style guide, and you should, too. While your mission statement is a reference for what content will be posted and helps solidify your online brand, the style guide describes the tone and, yes, style. Will you speak with casual or academic authority? Is it appropriate to post PG-13 or even R-rated topics? This part of the document is living and breathing and thus can expand or contract as you go along.
The mission statement and style guide are used to create consistency over all posts when there is an editorial staff partnering on publishing. All involved can reference back to these documents to dictate the approach. A well-oiled team of writers/publishers will appear to the public as one voice, not a potluck. This one voice is the voice of your organization. We suggest “hiring” people to contribute. No, don’t post an ad on Monster.com. Ask staffers if anyone is interested in contributing. Most people will be excited to legally be on Facebook at work. Perhaps assign a key word to each team member, like a reporter’s beat.
Once staff is hired, build an editorial calendar. Goal to post something once a day, comment on three or four other posts each day, and upload a photo or two a couple times a week. Staffers can be assigned to cover certain days of the week, or some other regular schedule that suits you and your team. Of course, you can post more often or on the days not assigned to you, but this schedule will ensure that something gets posted regularly.