Larry BraunerYou want to market on the web and take advantage of the vast potential of social media. You start your blog, create your Twitter account, launch your Facebook fan page, and you’re ready to go.

Or are you? Have you missed any crucial first steps?

Sandy Abrams, begins her new book, Your Idea, Inc., with words that have been attributed to Mark Twain:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking down your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

This quotation presents three problems, which I believe ought to have troubled Samuel Clemens:

  1. Isn’t “breaking down your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks” itself a step in the process?
  2. Aren’t understanding your needs and clearly defining your objectives vital preparatory steps as well?
  3. How do we determine the optimal sequence in which to execute all the small manageable tasks?

Neglected Stepchild of Social Media MarketingThese are three aspects of planning.

Planning is not popular, which explains the all too common lack of direction and focus in social media work.

Lack of direction and focus impedes progress and can cause frustration.

Your Social Media Plan

Before you jump into social media, devise your social media marketing and PR plan. Here are 16 key areas that might factor into your social media plan:

  1. Understand your business and objectives.
  2. Think about your products and services, what makes each special and their respective market segments.
  3. Develop positioning strategies for each market or program.
  4. Compile a list of your online competitors for each market.
  5. Identify suitable social media, such as social networking sites and social bookmarking sites, for both your vertical and horizontal campaigns.
  6. Identify desirable directories and other sites that might link to your content.
  7. Research and evaluate the extent and quality of industry-specific online content.
  8. Devise strategies and techniques for developing and promoting your content.
  9. Define a policy for governing your employees’ interactions with the public through social media.
  10. Study the online methodology of competitors and identify their search engine keywords.
  11. Analyze and critique your existing web presence.
  12. Gauge your competitors’ online success based upon their standing in search engines, the number and quality of links to their site, and estimated traffic.
  13. Identify opportunities to outmaneuver your competitors.
  14. Use a process called keyword discovery to develop a potentially useful vocabulary that will attract targeted search engine traffic to your content through SEO.
  15. Analyze keywords to determine which ones ought to be emphasized, based on the frequency of search and the amount of competition for each keyword phrase.
  16. Create a lexicon as an output of your keyword research and as an aid to your content development.

Action is Everything

You need not be concerned about every one of these areas. Use your judgment, since these are more suggestions than requirements. Certainly, do not use the length of my list as an excuse not to take action.

Action is everything. However, action begins with planning.

What are your thoughts?

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23 Responses to “Neglected Stepchild of Social Media Marketing”

  1. Carla J Gardiner on February 3rd, 2010 5:32 pm

    Awesome! Thank you Larry, once again, for bringing to the table such great information. I must admit, the list is a bit intimidating, but I plan to do as you suggest, take one bite at a time. I will not allow the list to paralyze my actions, and I have already begun to implement at least one of the suggestions.

    Keep up the fine work, you have a dedicated reader in me.

  2. Gera on February 3rd, 2010 5:40 pm

    Larry, so true all the necessary points to enter in the social media stream.

    I’d like to add one more: be aware about social media etiquette because this theme is generally forgotten and each niche has different rules.

    Marketers who ignore this precaution can potentially damage their campaigns.



  3. Straightalk on February 3rd, 2010 6:40 pm

    Yeah. You know you are so right..

    The main thing is to START.. I bump into many people that need online presence but their main fear is themselves!

    The #1 sentence, I want to go live when I am ready.. but truth is they NEVER get ready.. and most of them put off to come back with NO advancements in mind!

    So yeah, I also agree with brainstorming and action plan …



    Norman Flecha
    Straight Talk

  4. Jack Goldenberg on February 3rd, 2010 10:03 pm

    Once again, you’ve created a strategy that simplifies the answer to “What do I do next?”

    Brilliantly simple and complex. Great work.

    Jack Goldenberg
    World’s Best Underemployed Copywriter

  5. Latief@AnotherBlogger on February 4th, 2010 12:42 am

    I always interesting about keyword Larry. I agree with your point about keyword. I’ll keep concentrate on 10th-16th. Thanks.

  6. rickey gold on February 4th, 2010 2:58 am

    I saw the 16 point list and my first thought was that someone new to social media marketing would panic and run the other way…or fear that outsourcing this would cost an arm and a leg.

    Then I read further to “You need not be concerned about every one of these areas.” Whew!

    But the reality is that a solid social media marketing plan does include most of the elements you’ve shared in this very comprehensive list. I’m going to bookmark this to share with clients. Thanks, Larry!

  7. Texas A&M on February 5th, 2010 12:48 am

    The line, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” is really very inspirational. Thanks.

  8. Mark Clayson on February 5th, 2010 4:37 am

    This is such a great resource that you are providing, and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It’s the old “what goes around, comes around” routine.

  9. JLancaster on February 5th, 2010 5:00 pm


    This is an outstanding guide, and I will follow it.

    However, I would like to point out something else that you are doing well and demonstrating all the time. You provide serious, unique and original content.

    I think one of the things bloggers do is get lost in the SEO to the point there is very little reason for someone to stay or return to their site.

    You do give people a reason to return, and thanks. I am learning quickly to follow your examples. :)

    Always a pleasure!


  10. Larry Brauner on February 5th, 2010 5:09 pm

    Thank you all for your input and feedback. :-D

  11. Dawn on February 6th, 2010 12:43 am

    Ah yes the biggest and most important step of any venture and the one most forgotten - the planning stage.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  12. Social Media Marketing Plans « Emerging Technologies Librarian on May 13th, 2010 9:36 pm

    […] Stepchild of Social Media Marketing. Online Social Networking, February 3, 2010. A classic overview, with a few particularly insightful suggestions, such as creating your own […]

  13. The Worst Social Media Marketing Advice on July 16th, 2010 3:08 pm

    […] 50 to 75 communications and marketing professionals who were attending the event, Tom insisted that planning must come first, and that joining social sites was somewhere around step […]

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    […] – Planning, market segmentation, positioning, keyword analysis, social media landscape, etc. “The worst […]

  15. Sally on April 18th, 2011 5:47 pm

    I totally agree with this post! I see it happen all the time. People start to use social media, they think that they are ‘building their brand’, but in fact they are just wasting their time. Because, generally, action without planning is worthless.

  16. Yu on April 19th, 2011 1:06 pm

    Planing is very underrated and always in demand but essential to any successful marketeer. It is not through mere action that one becomes successful but by having a concrete and easily to follow blueprint, carefull analysis of the field and the guts to go through with it.

  17. RJ on April 21st, 2011 1:40 am

    This contains good content, especially for those who are still planning to SEO or market through social media. The points are well organized and are pretty useful.

  18. Dave on June 5th, 2011 5:08 pm

    Thanks to these detailed steps on helping us launch into the deep and complex world of social media marketing. I have always wanted to start and all my readings kept me excited but never really starting a step. There are too many things to do. But your direct-to-the-point list clears things out. Yes, planning saves much time, and I have wasted a bit already. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

  19. Dave on June 12th, 2011 12:40 am

    Knowing that if you enter into social media without a plan, you will fail, it is really good to take it in a flywheel process–slow at the beginning while allowing it to build its momentum at a certain time.

    I have read that it’s good to put a face on target market. Who are they and what are they interested in? Are they comfortable enough online to be hanging out in these communities? If so, where are they in the social media landscape? Are they on Twitter? Creating Facebook Fan pages? Answering questions on LinkedIn or Yahoo Answers? Or, God forbid, on MySpace? Wherever they are, find them. And that’s exactly what you meant here in this post.

  20. Sue Banks on June 14th, 2011 8:42 am

    As a full time medical administrator I don’t have a lot of time for social media, but on the few occasions I have ventured into this world, I have found that a lot of the people interacting are thinking of themselves first and you a very disntant second.

    “Hello, my name is Bob (or whatever) nice to see you here. Can I make you a millionaire, just click this link” etc etc

    I think that marketeers need to think like consumers and see a bigger picture.

    Just my thoughts

    Sue Banks
    Medical administrator

  21. John @ Four Wheeler Games on July 18th, 2011 5:43 am

    Well, everybody knows that social media is gaining a large piece of the media pie and as it is growing, also the amount of money and planning on how to use it is growing. I’m sure it will continue to go up, but it’s certain that there will be new and improved services in a year or two so we have to keep up.

  22. Joe on October 13th, 2011 9:53 am

    I do think it important for almost every business to have a hand in social media. The real problem comes when those people decide that they need to have Twitter and Facebook running in the background 24/7 and start getting distracted from their other work.

  23. Jack Martin on February 19th, 2012 6:20 pm

    16 solid steps. An important part of this process is deciding what type of social engagement will be best for your company. Find out what networks your potential customers are on, and get your brand in front of them.

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