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Publication #AEC559

Getting the Most Out of Social Media: Creating a Social Media Plan1

Jessica C. Fernandez and Joy N. Rumble 2

Introduction

This EDIS publication, which focuses on how to create a social media plan, is the second in a four-part publication series on getting the most out of social media usage. The series includes additional publications:

Background

Research shows that every social media platform saw significant growth from 2013 to 2014 (Duggan, Ellison, Lampe, Lenhart, & Madden, 2015). With 71 percent of adult Internet users (that is 58 percent of the entire United States adult population) participating daily on platforms like Facebook, social media use has increased and is said to continue to increase in coming years (Duggan et al., 2015). Therefore, it is important for agriculturalists to come up with a plan that will help them successfully adopt and maintain their social media platforms.

Figure 1. 
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Social Media Plan

Building anything from the ground up takes time, patience, and organization, but with a little guidance, adopting social media can be a fun and exciting experience for your agricultural business or organization. The following steps form the framework for your social media plan and your blueprint for success (Lee, 2014):

1. Choose the social media platform(s) that work for you. As can likely be expected, not all social media platforms are for everyone. Depending on the audience you want to reach and the kind of information you want to share, not every platform may be right for your agricultural business.

Therefore, keep these factors in mind:

  • Time—How much time can you devote to social media? As a rule of thumb, plan at least one hour per day per platform, at least in the beginning. Once you become better acquainted with social media, there are other tools like Buffer, SocialOomph, and HootSuite that allow you to manage several platforms from one, centralized location without having to go to each platform individually.

  • Resources—Who will be in charge of your social media platforms and what skills do they/you have to work with? Every platform requires different images, videos, and content to be posted and shared. Be sure to have the resources to be able to post such things. However, do not get discouraged. A picture of you or one of your workers out in the field with a short and creative description is a great place to start.

  • Audience—What platform(s) does your potential target audience browse and interact on? What social media platform(s) has the right demographics for your agricultural operation? Pew Research Center’s “Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms” outlines information regarding the number of Internet users using a particular platform (specifically Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), as well as age, location, and occupations of such users.

2. Fill out all profiles completely. Making sure to have the most up-to-date information on all your social media platforms profiles is key to being successful and building relationships with your target audience. Profiles require text and photos, so remember to keep your profile pictures current as well. If you have multiple platforms, make sure that your profile is consistent on each platform. (Your different platforms do not have to be identical, but make sure they match so your followers know it is you.)

3. Find your voice and tone. Before you start sharing, take a moment and decide what voice (personality) and tone (feeling and qualities) you want to have on your social media platform(s). Asking yourself the following questions will help you determine your voice and tone:

  • If your business were a person, what kind of personality would it have?

  • If your business were a person, what would its relationship to the target audience—most likely, your consumers—be like?

  • Describe in adjectives what your business’ personality is not.

  • What do you want your followers/consumers/target audience to think about your business?

4. Pick a posting strategy. You may be wondering what you should post, how many times you should post per day, or what time of the day to post. Unfortunately, there is no magic answer. What to post, the frequency of posts, and the time of day to post depend largely on your target audience; however, here are a few tips for when you start:

  • What should I post? Images are attractive to followers and can be found throughout social media. However, it’s often helpful to include a quick description with the image you post. Videos, like images, are also visually attractive to followers.

  • How often should I post? This once again depends on your target audience and the feedback you receive from followers. You do not want to post so often that your posts begin to be overlooked, but you want to post often enough such that you are not forgotten about. For the most part, posting five to 10 times per week on Facebook and five times per day on Twitter is recommended.

  • When should I post? If you are not sitting in front of a computer or on your mobile device checking your social media accounts, let us say during the time a typical family sits down to have dinner, chances are your followers are not checking either. Try to stay away from these times, and as you begin to post, take notice of the time that your audience is responding to you.

5. Analyze, test, and repeat. The more you post and become active on your social media platform(s), the more you will be able to determine what works for you and your audience. Tools such as Buffer, SocialOomph, and HootSuite can help you analyze your performance and evaluate what has been successful by breaking up views, clicks, shares, likes, and comments into information you are able to understand and interpret for the future.

6. Engage. The main purpose of social media is to allow you to connect and communicate with your consumers in a way that has not been possible before. Maintaining this communication and relationships is the last step in social media planning. You want to make sure you listen to your followers and others on social media so that you can stay relevant in this ever-changing world.

Summary

Adopting social media or even just revamping or adding a platform to what you already have can be intimating and overwhelming; however, creating a social media plan before jumping in can really help you organize your ideas and decide what is the best course of action for your business.

Further Reading

For tips on how to create an effective communication plan that can help you be successful on social media, visit the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Components of a Successful Communications Plan .

References

Duggan, M., Ellsion, N., Lampe, C., Lenhart, A., & Madden, M. (2015). Social media update 2014. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/

Lee, K. (2014). How to create a social media marketing plan from scratch. Retrieved from http://tnw.to/p3LnO/

Telg, R., & Irani, T. (2012). Agricultural communications in action: A hands-on approach (1st ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar, CENGAGE Learning.

Footnotes

1.

This document is AEC559, one of a series of the Agricultural Education and Communication Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date August 2015. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Jessica C. Fernandez, graduate student; and Joy N. Rumble, assistant professor; Department of Agricultural Education and Communication; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.