The 5 Ws of Social Media (and the H)

As everyone who does it knows, social media is one of the biggest time sinks available to us – and that includes Tetris and Angry Birds. So we’re going to take the journalistic approach to managing social media, borrowing from the who, what, why, when, where, and how of journalism.

Who: Who should be doing it?
What: What should they be doing?
When: How often?
Why: What are the objectives?
Where: What channels?
How: What’s the overall process?

Now, the details.

Who Should Manage Your Social Media?

Sometimes, there’s only you. Other times, there’s a staff member or agency person. In a pinch, you can find freelance help.

What Should They Be Doing?

  1. Content development and dissemination. Working off of your social media plan, you/they should be building content that aligns with the SEO plan. If you’re not doing the work yourself, you have to closely monitor the person(s) who is. You should start the day with “What are we going to do?” and end the day with “What did we accomplish?” This communication can be managed on your content calendar.
  2. Listening and engaging. Look at what others in your network are saying and respond only to what is directly or indirectly related to your brand. Engage with individuals in a meaningful way. For example, if someone shares your content with comments, continue the conversation by building on their comments – with your plan’s goals in mind. Don’t waste time on off topics or with “trolls” who aren’t supporting your goals.

When to Post and Engage

How frequently you should post content and engage with followers depends on your social media marketing plan. Social media can expand to take up all the time you can give it. So understand the minimum you need to do to get the results you need. If you have more time to give, great; but if that takes time from other activities, evaluate where the time should be best spent.

Why: How to Define Your Objectives

You are investing time in social media to achieve specific and measurable marketing and sales goals. You can only answer “why” if you know what your specific goals are – which means you start with a plan and objectives: to generate qualified leads, to expand brand awareness by sharing of content, to get media attention/pickup/interviews, etc.

Be sure that your objectives include social media goals as well as real goals. Subscribers on YouTube, Facebook likes and fans, and the number of Twitter subscribers are numbers without meaning. What has meaning: content shared by your readers with key target groups, people signed up for events, opt-ins for your blog, visits to website to fill out a lead form, etc.

And you need to understand how to evaluate the results. What if you only get 10 likes? If those likes are qualified, 10 are better than 1,000 trolls. This leads back to your social media content strategy, to develop content and target people who are likely to share your content and make it viral.

Where to Engage

With the buffet of social media channels whetting your appetite, how can you decide what to eat? Unless you have vast resources, you have to make choices; you can’t take on everything.

So the question always is: where are you most likely to attract the best customers and enthusiasts (people who will share your content, brand awareness, and media attention)?

To track how specific channels are working for you, set up the social traffic feature in your Google Analytics dashboard. It will tell you where the traffic is coming from, and over time, you can see what is working for you.

How: The Overall Process

While “how” is at the end of a journalist’s list, logically, it is where a social media marketer begins. You need to establish your objectives, the amount of time and resources you can invest, and a detailed action plan that stems from a comprehensive evaluation of your business goals. You should identify tools that will aid you in managing your social media broadcasts (i.e., all the content you push out), as well as monitoring both your social media influence and your online reputation.

This, in turn, will take you back to the other Ws: how often you should post to each channel, for example, and how (and if) you need to differentiate your messages to each. To determine the latter, you have to constantly monitor your social media insights to see if people are actually engaging with your content. If not, adjust and then proceed.

At the beginning of each week, assess the results of the previous week versus how much time you are spending, and where. Are you getting results that tie back to your goals? Are people referring business to you within the social channel?

Revise your channels and time investment accordingly. Social media provides a never-ending opportunity to test and learn.

For those who would like to know more, please leave a comment below or send me a note via ClickZ’s “connect with the author” and I can answer specific questions.

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