Plan for social media. Don't run with scissors.

Plan for social media. Don't run with scissors.

People hate planning.

Maybe it’s like Elvis said: We want a little less conversation and a lot more action. Planning can be boring, to be sure, and folks want to see results right away. The perception is that planning gets in the way of moving forward, getting going, making something happen! But that’s not true. Planning ensures you know where you’re going, why you are engaging in social media and what results you expect.

Without it, you’re simply running with scissors.

Let’s quickly review some of the key elements of a disciplined social media plan:

* Know your objectives: What do you intend to accomplish by engaging in social media? These objectives should not stand alone. The should be a part of a greater marketing strategy that includes your web site, any current efforts (newsletter, enews, etc.), and all digital media (podcasts, youtube).

* Know who you will be targeting: Who wants to hear from you? Where do they congregate?

* Know how you will reach them: Carefully think through what tools you will use to reach them, ensure these tools have the same look and feel as all of your online presences, and then prioritize. You cannot roll out several social media efforts at once. It’s about creating relationships and community and that is nearly impossible when you are stretched so thin. You must prioritize and, well, plan for when and what.

* Know how you will nurture the relationship: I heard a speaker once talk about nurture marketing, and social media is surely the poster child for nurturing the budding relationships you are creating. It takes a disciplined editorial calendar for your blog. A cohesive approach to the video, podcasts and Tweeting (and whatever else you’re using) are required to ensure that you are sharing relevant information, meeting needs and showing prospects that your ministry really does listen.

In summary, don’t get so excited about the prospects of all this newfangled media that you toss commonsense planning methods by the wayside. Planning should be the first priority and should be conducted on a regular calendar to chart your progress.

Yep, yep, it’s not sexy, but it’s crucial.