Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan Alyssa Dahl Data Analyst

Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan
Alyssa Dahl Data Analyst
marketing + technology
701.235.5525 | 888.9.sundog | fax: 701.235.8941
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Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
Overall Strategy
Social media is much older than people think. One of
the first networking websites was SixDegrees in 1997.
Since then, from ICQ instant messaging to Napster
music sharing, social media and social networks have
evolved and increased dramatically. After SixDegrees,
came Friendster, which gained momentum in 2002-03.
Next, were MySpace and Facebook in 2005. And the list
goes on. It is apparent social media is not just a fad; it’s
something that has become integrated into our lives. It’s
a new medium that encourages sharing, connections
and communication with people you never knew existed.
And it’s here to stay.
Developing an overall social strategy can be overwhelming at
first. A social media approach with organizational alignment
should not only outline what will be done in your approach,
but define your target audience and how they interact with
social media. Research what types of social media are
most popular with your target audience. Examine how often
each target market visits certain networks, what tools they
share, and what applications they find most useful. When
developing a social strategy, defining your goals and
objectives is the most important step. This will help you
measure the success of your network, define your social
process and ensure that you move down the right path.
Today, Social Media is another business tool to place
into the marketing toolbox. It’s a necessary part of any
company strategy and a new way to maximize your
budget. Whether you’re developing a media plan, dealing
with customer service or amping up your online presence,
social media is the vehicle that gets you where you need
to go. It allows the consumer to engage, comment and
influence products and services. It allows the community
to brainstorm new ideas and insights for a better brand
experience. Buyers want to be heard and help shape their
world utilizing social media channels.
Social media can be successful on its own, depending
on the circumstances, but more often it needs to be
implemented as part of a diverse marketing plan. By using
social media with other marketing tactics, you will drive
more traffic, create more awareness and encourage more
activity from your targeted communities. Ultimately, social
media is most successful when implemented as one
subset within a larger strategy.
On that note, like any other tactic in the workplace,
managing a social media presence takes time, skill and
- most of all - a strategy. Use this guide as a reference
point to start planning and implementing your social
media strategy.
It is apparent social media is not
just a fad; it’s something that has
become integrated into our lives.
Talking may come pretty easily for most people. Listening,
however, can be one of the hardest things to do. People
are on social networks talking about brands, products,
events and more. Listening to consumer conversations
is an essential part of successful branding. When
businesses are ready to tap into the online world and
its public conversations, developing a listening strategy
is the key to success.
A listening strategy gives a company a feel for who is
talking about the company’s brand online and what
conversations those people are having. This listening
is done through the use of specific brand related
key-words which monitor mainstream news, blogs,
forums and conversations on social networks. So, what
you hear from online users is determined by the keywords
you use. Types of keywords that should be considered
when listening include categories of brand, industry,
special events, campaign and location.
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
A good listening strategy will not only address what
is being said about your brand, but will also take into
account what is being said about your competitors’
brands. Reviewing the feedback for your competitors
and studying their keywords is a great benchmark for
understanding and measuring online conversations
about your own company. To hear conversations
about your competitors and to learn about industry
trends, study the keywords used about their specific
campaigns, current events or television shows.
There are a number of tools available to assist you in
listening to specific conversations. In the beginning
listening stages, it may be best to engage with your
consumer by using free search functions offered by
social networks. When planning your listening strategy,
take into account the different ways you can engage in
the various types of conversations you may come across.
Think about how your tone and message will translate
and how that might affect your end result. For example,
engaging in a negative post could actually lead to a
positive turn around. The following is an example from
Kaiser Permanente.
When planning your listening
strategy, take into account the
different ways you can engage in
the various types of conversations
you may come across.
Female: As a Kaiser Permanente member, I found
it highly ironic, if not fraudulent, when I saw a Kaiser
Permanente commercial this morning that touted the
benefits of the paperless medical records system
and all of the trees that are saved. Friday, I requested
a copy of my medical record from the Reston, VA
center and learned that the office is unable to
produce a copy of the electronic file on CD. Rather,
I’ll be charged $50 per page for the first 50 pages,
then 25 cents per page beyond 50 pages. So much
for saving trees. Not only that, the actual production
of the paper copies is outsourced to a third-party
vendor – something that has potential to violate HIPA.
Shame on Kaiser Permanente.
Kaiser Permanente: Thank you for your note. We are
taking this feedback seriously. Someone from our
team has just left you a voicemail message. We look
forward to helping you resolve the situation.
Female: UPDATE! Not only will I be able to get my
medical records on a CD, but a notice will go out to
all Kaiser Permanente sites in the Mid-Atlantic Region
to inform other members that this option is available.
This team is fantastic. Thank you!
Kaiser Permanente was successful in commenting on the
post and reaching out to the customer outside of the
social network. The company made a public response that
would show that they listen, care and take action with the
feedback from their consumers. By doing so, they were
able to solve a customer service problem and also receive
positive, published responses from their consumer.
When listening and communicating through social
networks, the target audience you are communicating
with becomes very important.
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
Target Audience
It is important to first understand the target audience
and how best to interact and engage with them when
developing your social media strategy. Study each target
audience and analyze their motivations, fears, concerns
and hopes to determine what type of social media fits
them. Then, look at your target market and identify the
type of social media user category they fall under
(See Social Media Users and Influence Diagram).
Make notes on what type of social media has the largest
impact and what kind of attention or effect it generates.
Doing your research to determine which tactics will
have the most impact on your target audience, helps
ensure that your social media campaign is a success.
Once you have defined your target market, you can
begin to establish the types of social media you should
or will incorporate.
Social Media Users and Influence
Types of Social Media Users
Identify your social media users:
Seek Information and
Opinions from Peers
Engaged and
Use information-rich tools that allow them to educate
themselves without opting in (video, podcasts, consumer reviews)
Look to their peers, they want a point of view and unbiased information
Types of Social Media: podcasts, peer reviews, onlie videos, wikipedia
Passionate about a brand and want to share that passion and interact with brand
on personal level
Types of Social Media: forums, blogs, and videos
Engage with your brand but also be an advocate or critque your brand
Influence of Social Media
Company Generated
High Positive
Peer Generated
Loyalty Brand Generated
Podcasts, Online Reviews,
Online Videos
Online Videos, Wikipedia
Entries, Discussion
Forums, Online Reviews,
Social Network Sites
Medium Positive
Online Videos, Wikipedia
Entries, Discussion
Forums, Online Reviews,
Wikipedia Entries,
Discussion Forums, Blogs
Low Positive
Company Blog, Social
Network Sites
Social Network Sites
*Based on Forrester Study
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
Choices of What Type of Social Media
Social Microsite
When creating a strategy, most businesses are familiar
with the social communities already built: Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube. However, it’s necessary to explore
all options available to choose those that best tie into
your overall social strategy. There is no limit to how small
or large the social strategy should be, but it is important
to have a specific plan for each social activity included
in your strategy.
Social microsites are developed to revolve solely around
your business or purpose. They create specific communities
and often include development of personal profiles
for community members to activate. Your microsite could
display anything from new features, music and photos,
to applications, videos and chat capabilities. Social
microsites differ from social networks, in that they have
a variety of features all in one area instead of working
across multiple channels to achieve multiple functions.
NOTE: Examples will not be provided as social media
continues to change and evolve.
Social Sharing
Applications can be custom built to tie into your Facebook
Page or website. This will leverage the brand experience
for the user, therefore driving growth and engagement
on your website or Facebook page. Within Facebook,
an application is a platform for developers that provides a
framework for user interaction with core features of the site.
A blog is a website or online journal that allows users to
reflect, share opinions and discuss various topics. It also
provides readers of those blogs an opportunity to
comment on posts. Blogging plans can range in detail –
from message management and overall category layout to
a detailed list of topics to cover within each entry. This
type of engagement is considered active and is updated
in real time, though it doesn’t have to be updated as
frequently as Facebook status updates or Twitter messages.
Social Communities
Social communities are created when a person or
organization utilizes existing social networks and creates
a profile, account, page and/or channel. Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare and Wikipedia are
among the most popular ones, but there are many more
to choose from. When determining which social
community is best for you, research which social
network(s) best reach your target market and accomplish
your overall objectives and goals.
Social sharing is the act of placing social network tools
on your website(s) and is primarily implemented through
the use of free social sharing tools. There are a variety
of sharing types, some mentioned below, which can be
used simultaneously and can span an unlimited number
of networks and sources. One example of social sharing
is posting a story or article on your site, where you allow
users to read and respond via their own profiles and accounts.
There are three types of social sharing: Peer-to-Peer
Sharing, Social Network Sharing and Social Bookmarking.
Peer-to-Peer Sharing is a send-to-a-friend type of
message. These types of messages most often utilize
email as the sharing source.
Social Network Sharing occurs when you link an article
or other web data to a personal profile, in order to share
it with other existing social networks. This allows users
to read and respond via their own social accounts. Be
aware social network sharing icons look similar to icons
users place on existing media or site homepages (to direct
people to their social communities). See example below.
Social Network Sharing Icons:
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
Sharing icons placed on a company’s homepage to direct
visitors to their social community:
Social Bookmarking is the saving of specific content within
a website.
A social widget is a tool that can be shared by using an
existing user’s social profile to leverage a personalized
strategy. For example, Chevron created a social widget that
told viewers how many barrels of oil had been consumed
globally from the time they had arrived on the site. The
widget used social network sharing to influence existing
profiles and accounts. Below is the example of Chevron’s
social widget.
Peer-to-peer sharing, social network sharing and social
bookmarking are three easy ways to drive traffic to your
site and to help your social conversations go viral. These
tools help users share stories on content, whether through
email or on their social networks. Discovering good content
on the internet can be difficult, but sharing good content
doesn’t have to be.
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
Resources Available
(Time Management)
When developing an overall strategy for social media, lack
of human resources and experience is often a struggle
for many companies. In most cases, businesses make an
ongoing effort to maintain a presence in social media, but
lack the human resources to keep this information accurate,
consistent and valuable for their communities. There are
tools and external resources to help companies manage
those issues and, in the table below, we take an in-depth
look into time management and recommend a strategy.
The time that must be dedicated to social media varies,
depending on the type of social media you are leveraging
with your business strategy. It may also depend on your
experience, your organization, group and purpose for the
account. The amount of active engagement, communication
and conversations about a brand or product and your
company’s level of conversational engagement, such as
commenting on various discussion boards are also factors
to be considered. A social media model takes time to
implement, manage, create and monitor, no matter your
level of commitment. The graph below illustrates how your
time might be dedicated toward social media.
Each step of engagement in your social media plan could
be equal, depending on your social strategy. In the passive
state, a company spends the majority of their time listening
to conversations online and less time moderating.
The responsive state occurs when a company is listening,
monitoring and creating awareness of social marketing.
The engaged state involves being engaged on existing
social networks and joining user conversations. In the
creating state, companies develop and maintain their
own social presence. Some company engagement
begins in the passive state and evolves to the creating
state, while others tackle all four engagement types at once.
Social Media Time Management
Hours per Day Spent on Social Media (1 to 3 social media accounts)
Types of Engagement by a Brand
Hours per Day
Listening and monitoring
Listening, monitoring and creating awareness
Engaging in online conversations and community interactions
Developing and managing online communities
Monitor, Measure, Report
Create Awareness
Message Management
Social Strategy and Planning
Research and Listen
Step 1 Passive
Step 2
Step 3 EngagedStep 4 Creating
Types of Engagement
Percentage Step based on Engagement Level
Step 2
Step 3 Engaged Step 4 Creating
Types of Engagement
Research and Listen
Analyzing competiors and industry trends. Listening to online
conversations based on keywords.
Social Strategy and
Covering all the social options and laying out a foundation for
your social strategy, always thinking about what you can
leverage next.
Social Plan and
Deciding on a social strategy and planning for each specific
step. Message management, message calendar, follower
strategy and more.
Create Awareness
Using current marketing channels to leverage your social
channels. Commenting on blogs with tags of social networks
or links to site.
Monitor, Measure,
Analyzing current channels, competitor channels and any
traffic driving to sites. Are your social networks producing a
postivite ROI?
Monitor, Measure, Report
Create Awareness
Message Management
Social Strategy and Planning
Research and Listen
Step 1 Passive
Social Media Strategy Process
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
Looking for a short answer? The more time you put into
your social media plan, the more you will get in return.
There is no limit to the number of types of social to start
with, but generally companies begin with one and evolve
their plans over time. Begin by determining who will be
your organization’s social moderator and how they will
actively manage each account or social type. Then assess
your employees and assign the right people to the right
areas. This will save you time, energy and money both
upfront and overtime.
“There are many Red Cross employees and
volunteers contributing to online spaces such as
blogs, social networking sites, wikis, forums and
photo and video sharing sites.
Company Social Media Policy
All kinds of social media manner of new communication
and social networking tools are available to Red
Crossers, anyone who wants to share insights,
express opinions and communicate in a globally
distributed conversation. While the American Red
Cross recognizes the value of posting personal
online content (Web sites, Weblogs, vlogs, podcasts,
photos, chat rooms, forums and wikis), it is important
that Red Crossers who choose to tell their Red Cross
story online understand what is recommended,
expected and required.”
Social media is playing a larger part in the business world
than most people think, whether they are a part of the
movement or not. Many companies are implementing
social media accounts without a plan or before forming
a strategy and some are even allowing their employees to
manage their accounts without direction. Having an official
company policy and forming a set of guidelines for staff to
follow can help regulate unnecessary employee behavior
on social networks.
Social media policies can cover many different topics
and areas. Because the what not to do list could go
on forever, the best way to get the general idea across
to your employees is to tackle the policy one area at a
time. It is important to first state what the reader should
learn from the policy, as the American Red Cross did
when they stated:
The following guidelines will help you talk about your
involvement with the Red Cross in an open and
transparent way. The Red Cross must always uphold
the trust of the American people, so it is critical that
we tell our story responsibly.
While you can’t control what others in your company write
or post on their social networks, it’s important to make
sure they understand privacy settings, exercise good
judgment, act responsibly and know the company expects
from them. It can also be beneficial to encourage employees
to include their place of work and link back to the
company’s site. This will not only increase inbound links,
but also drive traffic to the site.
Current policies on social media accounts range in length
and detail. They are based on the nature of the business
and how much of it is regulated. Social media policies can
help employees realize what is acceptable and reminds
each user to be responsible for what he or she writes.
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
By capitalizing on new communication channels like social
media and applying them to the context of your organization,
you allow your business to add another value for success.
By choosing specific tactics throughout social media and
developing a plan with them, you create a framework that
will make an impact on a large portion of your target market.
Investing in the resources, time and policies required to
regulate your company’s social media strategy is highly
beneficial. We hope this is helpful in the development of
your company’s social strategy.
As a final note, once you have chosen which social media
to implement, a planning process should take place prior
to launch. This planning process will be outlined in another
Sundog white paper. The paper will discuss elements like
tone, messaging, timelines and structure.
Integrating Social Media into your Business Plan | Alyssa Dahl
American Red Cross, Online Communications Guidelines. Retrieved July 17, 2010 from
Borders, Brett (2009) A Brief History of Social Media. Retrieved June 16, 2010, from
Brogan, Chris (2009) How much time should I spend on social media. Retrieved June 1, 2010, from
Chevron Corporation. (2010-2011)
Dybwad, Barb (2010) 5 Social Media Trends to Watch Right Now. Retrieved July 10, 2010 from
Golla, Vince and Holly Potter, Kaiser Permanente. Our Social Media Journey: Lessons Learned from a Health Care Leader.
Social Media for HealthCare Conference. July 26th, 2010. New York City, New York.
Lauby, Sharlyn (2009), 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy. Retrieved July 14, 2010 from
Ramos Laura, Forrester Research (2009). POST: Understand Customers’ Social Behavior In The Cloud. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
Lauby, Sharlyn (2010) Social Policy Musts by Mashable. Retrieved July 11, 2010 from