Creating a social media plan

Over the last few weeks we’ve discussed how to build an author platform. So far we’ve talked mostly about blogging, but the many social media networks deserve some attention too. In fact, they deserve quite a bit of attention.

Much as your content plan is subject to change, your social media plan should be re-evaluated regularly to make sure you’re on the right track. In fact, as you discover what works best for you on each network, your plan should be re-evaluated regularly. This is much simpler when your plan and goals are well thought out and written down in a coherent manner.

You can create your social media plan with these simple steps:

1. Choose 2-3 networks to focus on– there are actually dozens of social networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are among the largest. Separate social networks exist for smaller segments of the populations, with the obvious example being Goodreads for authors and avid readers.

You might be able to master them all, but you won’t manage to master them all at once. Even if you do, you’ll come out the other end realizing that you have a huge audience but no writing to advertise. The point is to become a successful writer, so make sure writing time is still a priority and that your marketing time won’t overrun it.

Choose two, maybe three networks where you’re actually interested in being part of the community and focus on those. You might end up switching networks or expanding to have accounts on a few more, but commit to really learning about your chosen networks for the next three months before you consider changing your mind. Without at least three months of dedicated work on a given social network, you won’t be able to effectively judge how useful the network is for promoting your writing.

2. Create a study schedule– devote at least one hour each week to learning about each of the social networks you’ve chosen to focus on. You’ll find dozens, even hundreds of articles about how to build a following and develop relationships on each social network. Make a point of following two or three blogs dedicated to social media to keep your knowledge current.

Some things are true about all social networks–people want to deal with genuine people, pictures attract more attention, and building real relationships is the key to success. Each network also has its own quirks and demands a slightly different approach.

Studying what works and what doesn’t and using that knowledge wisely will set you apart from other aspiring authors in a big way. If you can offer legitimate expertise on something else–like freelance writing or your current career–you’ll find it becomes simpler to build your platform.

3. Choose your level of commitment– you definitely want to contribute something to each of your chosen social networks every day, Monday to Friday. A good starting point if you’ve never delved into social media before is to share one interesting article by somebody else and one of your own articles each day.

Even a small commitment of ten minutes a day, two or three times a day can make a big difference and help you form lasting connections via social media. Try to start conversations by asking questions, responding to interesting threads and sharing articles you enjoy. The best way to build a following on social media is through a combination of studying successful people and good old fashioned trial and error.

If you’re particularly busy or unlikely to be on social media networks during peak hours(which vary from network to network) you can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule social media posts. This allows you to automate your marketing messages and ensure that your name gets out there every day.

Next week we’ll start talking about all those things that come with your blog–an ebook, a subscriber freebie, maybe even a course–and how to plan those out in more detail.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your efforts and successes in social media–what’s worked for you? What hasn’t?