Your Social Media Game Plan for 2013

Well, the world didn't end and 2013 is here! YAY!

It's been an incredible year for me; moving from Portland to San Francisco and now working as the inbound marketing manager at an advertising agency.  I couldn't be happier spending a portion of my day reading the latest in the ever changing realm of social media and then scheduling relevant content.

I think it's safe to say, social media is here to stay and user engagement will only increase over the upcoming year.

"In 2012, 63.2% of internet users will visit a social network at least once a month, rising to 67.6% in 2013 and 70.7% in 2014. At those user rates, one out of every five people in the world will use a social network this year, and one in every four will do so in 2014." ~eMarketer

Over the last month I've been reading a variety of trending articles about advertising, social media,  marketing and public relations trends from 2012 and what to expect in 2013. There's a LOT of content out there. I wanted to create something that would act as a basic guide to help you get your social media accounts under control in 2013.

I have created some suggestions you can use to better manage your social media accounts and your time.  Furthermore, I've created a breakdown of certain platforms and who they are best suited for to help you better decide where to put a majority of your efforts.

In 2012 a much larger majority of you have played around with different social media platforms, thrown a comment up here and there, spent a day or two obsessively on Twitter, etc. etc.  But at the end of the day I find that a majority of people are still so overwhelmed by the amount of social media platforms out there and finding the time to stay on top publishing content on those platforms.

To sum, my advice for you and your social media in 2013 is to GET ORGANIZED. 

Follow these six steps to lead you on the path to rocking the social media world for your business while still spending the majority of your time focusing on your actual business.

1. Set a goal.  What do you want your social media accounts to do for you? Increase your website traffic? Produce more leads? Increase your brand identity?  Position yourself an expert?

Your goal should be a combination of some of these things, but most importantly, make sure your goal is attainable and in line with your company objectives.  Write your goal down clearly and reread it every day before setting out to manage your social media accounts.

2. Get your tools in place.  Get a software program that allows you to schedule your content for the platforms you want to be using. Hootsuite is a great, user-friendly, free site.  Also, you will want to make sure you have analytical tracking data set up, like Google Analytics, to be able to track your progress.

3. Dedicate a certain amount of time a week to manage your accounts.  This will vary for how deeply you want to get involved, whether you are going to assign someone in house to handle your social media content, etc.  I would suggest a few hours a week at the very minimum. But again, set an attainable, allotted amount of time and follow through.

4. Decide which social media channels you should be using. Only more and more social media platforms are being developed and utilized.  You need to look at your target audience and decide where your potential leads are "hanging out."

Here are my suggestions as to who should be using what platform:

Twitter- Everyone. You don't necessarily have to have a personal Twitter account, but you should have a company Twitter account.

Facebook- Everyone.  You should have a basic Facebook page and you should have a basic company page filled out as completely as possible.

LinkedIn- Everyone, especially B2B companies.

You should definitely have a personal page that you are continuously updating and asking for endorsements on at the very least.

You should have a company LinkedIn page if your company does any B2B work.  Your company page is a way for you to showcase your company, list your products and services and get endorsements.  According to Business 2 Community, 61% of B2B businesses acquired a customer through LinkedIn.

YouTube- If you can potentially show something educational or exhibit your product in an entertaining way, get on YouTube. YouTube is the third most visited website according to Alexa.  Don't waste your time putting up a video just for the sake of putting up a video.  Get creative, comical and educational.

Pinterest-  If your company is B2C, definitely,  however we will see B2B on Pinterest on the rise in 2013 with the increase of infographics, so it's not a bad idea to start dabbling with this platform, especially if your company straddles the B2C and B2B worlds.  Pinterest acts as a portfolio of your work and can easily be used to visually promote business transparency.

Google+- Currently I see Google+ more like LinkedIn with a Facebook twist, on the personal user side, anyway. People are continuously sharing all varieties of content, however it's generally more intellectual content then you would find shared on Facebook.

You do have to have a personal account to have a Google+ business page, but if you are a B2B company that doesn't have a lot of images to share, it is a way to share interesting industry related articles and get your name out there in the Google search.  Google+ is obviously tied in with Google's search rankings.  It's not very user friendly and can be tough to figure out how to best utilize it, but well worth dedicating some time to in an attempt to help your SEO.

(For helpful statistics that might help you make your social media platform decisions, read Business 2 Community's "48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics, Plus 7 Infographics."

5. Use the time you dedicate to each social media platform efficiently and effectively.

Facebook- Scheudle 5 posts a week.   Leaving room for 2 or 3 random posts or shares from other pages throughout the week.

Twitter- Schedule 7 to 10 posts a week.  Download the Twitter app to your smart phone, if you don't have a smart phone, I don't know what to tell you other then you should probably get one ASAP. With scheduled tweets you can then just retweet or share additional random updates while on the go from your phone, i.e. waiting in line at the grocery store, on your lunch break, etc.

Google+- Unfortunately there is no program that lets you schedule content to be posted in the future on Google+.  I think we we will see that develop in  2013, but for now, I would recommend using Google+ to share an article you read and find interesting with a quick comment. Instead of sitting down to search for content to share, just share intellectual content in your industry or that you find interesting as you come across it on the web in your daily routine. Why not put a sticky note next to your computer where you read the news in the morning that says Google+ to remind yourself!

Pinterest- Don't sit down and try to master Pinterest in a day.  It is time consuming. First, create mini portfolios (aka boards) of your work.  If your work ins't image intensive and is more B2B, create images or infographics linking to your website content. If you don't have time to create these images, hire someone to do it. (Make sure you put your company logo on the infographic).

After you create boards of your work, create other boards about things that inspire your company by repining others pins. To best utilize your time, every time you sit down to use Pinterest, make sure you have a board you want to create in mind. It is VERY easy to get distracted on Pinterest.  Get your brand in mind and stay focused. Seriously the little puppy pictures and delicious recipes will get you at some point.

LinkedIn- Update, update, update.  LinkedIn is something that requires quite a bit of time if you are going to use it for your business.  You can schedule content to be posted on your personal page, on your business page and in groups using certain software, but even then, the follow up has to be in real time and relevant. You will want to make follow up comments to those who comment on your shared content.  Furthermore, recently LinkedIn has been changing and updating its layout frequently, make sure your personal and company profiles are up to date.

YouTube- YouTube is a tricky one.  You don't want to be putting up tacky videos but you also don't want to dedicate countless hours to creating phenomenal videos.  Keep your videos short and captivating by packing them full of useful information. Try creating: a video of someone doing a routine task at your company, a video that explains how to do something using screen shots.  Aiming to create one basic video a month and sharing it across other social platforms and in your blog will help you best utilize YouTube.

6. Analyze your progress.  

Analyze your progress regularly.  Remember that goal you set? Are you reaching it? Why or Why not?

By analyze I don't necessarily mean become obsessed with how many likes, followers and repins you get.

If you aren't reaching your goal try to understand why. Be flexible to make changes.  Maybe start working with a different social media platform. If one site is working better for you, put more time towards that site.

Lastly, a very important thing to think about when approaching social media, is, well, NOT to over think it. Social media platforms are communication channels.  That funny article you'd send to your friend in an e-mail takes you what, 30 seconds to do?  The same human element of sharing content should be at the forefront of your mind when posting content.

2012- it's been great. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!