The Social Media Business plan is a tool designed to help enterprises create a business plan and to document projects relating to customer interaction management. The tool is aimed at business and IT professionals, but it is recommended that 2-3 people work on the plan, and the plan should be completed in two weeks. Organizations may rename the plan to fit their business model.

Section 1, Customer Interaction Management Strategic Assessment

Market Dynamics

This section should include customer strategies and how they relate to your market. Specifically, state what mediums customers use to research your company’s products, your company’s ability to grow and retain market share, and the current state of online and offline competitive landscapes. This will help define discussion of social media projects and their potential value.

Organizational Dynamics

This section should describe the impact of the organization on customer strategy and opportunities. Organizational readiness should also be described here. Address what type of business model your company employs, information about your customers, and your company’s views on technology implementation and systems integration. Also discuss relationships between the IT and business units. This will help define your company’s ability to use market opportunities in regards to social media projects.

Section 2, Opportunity Assessment

This section explores the options in regards to return of investment on social media projects. Areas assessed should include:

-Building a positive brand image: Social media is an opportunity for your business to showcase its brands, community involvement and employees, and is a way for you to ensure your business is being reflected in a positive manner.
-Increasing Mind Share: Another medium to promote business, since social media reaches large audiences at a low cost.
-Gaining Customer Insights: The monitoring of social networking sites, which users often discuss experiences on, can provide invaluable feedback on not only your company’s products but competitive company’s products.
-Increasing Revenue: Social media provides yet another channel for your business to link customers researching a product directly to your point of purchase.
-Customer Acquisition: Social media can be used to generate leads and can help sales people to get past gatekeepers.
-Improving Customer Satisfaction: Social media can provide more timely service to your customers and encourage them to converse in their preferred medium.
-Increasing Customer Retention: Social media provides barriers to exit since customers are using a medium they prefer, and the competition may not offer this.
-Reducing Cost of Servicing Customers: Social media can be used to quickly respond to customer service issues. However, more opportunities for interaction can lead to more inquiries, cutting down on privacy.

Section 3, Risk Mitigation

This area should explore the risks your company may encounter while using social media for business purposes.

Security – Employees downloading malware or viruses. The strategy should be to implement policies that encourage appropriate conduct by employees.

Privacy – Inappropriate exchanges of information. The strategy should be to implement separate social accounts and train employees to not mix personal and business contacts nor interact the two.

Inappropriate Content – Employees posting inappropriate content. The strategy should ensure the social media team is trained on official company policy and social media etiquette, and the monitoring of such.

Time Wastage – Use of social media for personal use instead of business. Time spent on organization objectives should be documented.

Control Over Brand Image – Full social media participation means using front line staff for positive branding. The strategy should train every person that interacts with customers on acceptable brand presentation.

Bandwidth – An increase to support social media efforts. Plan for bandwidth requirements with IT staff.

Competitors Poaching Client Lists – This cannot be prevented on a public social network. You must monitor yours and your competitors brands. If secrecy is an issue use a private social network.

Increased Cost of Servicing Customers – Augment existing customer service responsibilities.

Section 4, Project Recommendations

This section should be used to let the reader know what needs to be done. Detail benefits and risks, estimate costs, future budgeting and that the Social Media Business Plan be reviewed.

Marketing – Build positive brand image on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Create fan pages for customers to discuss products and services.

Sales – Customer acquisition utilizing Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Create a fan page to alert customers to sales and coupons, and get contacts from LinkedIn.

Service – Customer retention on Facebook and Twitter. Use both for customer service.

Section 5, Technology Investments

Vendors can be categorized into social media services, CRM suites that feature social media integration, and pure play social channel aggregators. Bring different products together to create one platform.

CRM Suite – Purchase additional licences through vendors such as Oracle, RightNow Technologies,, and SugarCRM.

Social Channel Aggregator – Purchase an aggregator to minimize the effort required to maintain social media presence such as Socialware or InsideView.

Section 6, Roles & Responsibilities

Define social media goals, discuss managing social media security, discuss providing social media technology support, as well as managing social media and CRM integration. Also discuss the posting of content to social media sites, social media content archival, providing social media reporting metrics and how to monitor social network sites.

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About the Author: Jennifer Mathews