Plan, Do, Check, Act - The Deming Cycle
Several years ago I came across a method called the Deming Cycle (also known as PDCA) which involved 4 steps:
- Plan – figure out the objectives and processes needed to get results
- Do – put the plan into action
- Check – track or measure the results and compare with what you hoped to achieve
- Act – make adjustments to your plan and repeat the process
PDCA is a 4-step method used by businesses to control and monitor improvements of their services or products. This method is easily adaptable to building your social media strategy.
1. Plan Your Social Media Strategy
This is going to be the longest of the PDCA cycle. The planning stage of building your social media strategy will focus on the who, what, where, when and how:
Who will you be sharing information with?
Build personas of the people who are your customers and potential customers. According to Hub Shout, "a brand persona is a personality that your brand possesses". They recommend creating a brand persona for each social media channel where you plan to engage your target audience. For example a customer on Instagram might be more fun and playful but a potential customer on LinkedIn would be more serious and professional.
As you build these personas you should focus on these characteristics:
- Industry or niche they work in
- Male/Female specific
- Level of education
- Married/Single specific
- Work role – entry level or CEO
- Do they work
- Do they have families
- How can you help them
- What problem are they facing
- What level of industry jargon do they talk with (casual, formal, etc.)
Knowing who you want to share information with will help with the other steps of your planning process.
What information do you want to share?
Check out your competitors, look over questions customers frequently ask, review your products and services. What information is going to be the most informative and helpful to your customers and potential customers.
The information you share should:
Stimulate engagement – You want your followers to be engaged or interested in what you’re saying. You can do this in a variety of ways:
- Educate, inspire, make them laugh
- Deliver information that will teach your followers something new
- Help them better understand something related to what you do
- Offer inspirational quotes – these don’t need to be related to your specific industry
- Share a joke, cartoon, image – something that you find funny that perhaps your followers will also find funny.
Demonstrate knowledge – Gain their trust by demonstrating your knowledge of information related to your industry. It doesn’t hurt to “give away” bits of information that will help your followers. For example you could create a post that tells your followers the 5 most common deductions most people miss when filing their taxes, how to prevent stains caused by your washing machine, or warm-up tips to prevent injury when exercising. Facebook posts should be short and informative so finding a few bits of expert knowledge is easy to come up with and makes your followers respect your knowledge.
Be consistent with company branding:
- What is your company culture like?
- What type of image do you portray?
- What is your personality?
What I’m looking at here is your overall branding. Some companies are quite formal and business-like. They use proper grammar in every piece of written material; others are less formal like me. I tend to use contractions wherever I can and even tend to make ‘em up as I go as well. In our leads group, I’m becoming more known for using corny old country songs to deliver my 1-minute message (you should’ve heard the most recent one about the Hot Rod Lincoln). This is all part of my personality and I come across on my facebook page as very informal and laid back. Make sure what you post is consistent with your company’s culture and image. You want your followers to recognize you.
When will you share your information?
This by far is absolutely the hardest part of posting online. There’s many articles and content written about when you should post your content. Some experts say to post between 8 am to 2 pm while others say 7 am to 10 pm. In reality your optimal time is determined by two things:
- Your audience
- When they are online
It’s really that simple. In order to determine your optimal time you need to get busy and start posting content, build your audience, and then track your results.
Facebook's insights data can help you determine when your audience is online. MeetEdgar offers a Guided Tour of Facebook Insights. Check out their post for some useful info that'll help you Determine Your Best Time to Post.
Where will you focus on building your social media strategy?
There's many social sharing sites available to choose from. In my experience, I've found it best to start with Facebook and get a good posting rhythm started before branching off into other forms of social media. Trying to get started on too many platforms at once is a recipe for disaster.
How will you post the information you wish to share?
This question has two aspects to it. The first aspect is what types of information will you share:
- Text updates
- Images with quotes
Use some variety to keep your followers engaged but remember that images get more attention than any other type of content. Images and video appeal to various learning styles and make it easy for your audience to get a feel for who you are. So pair your text update with a relevant image to attract the attention of your audience.
Once you determine what types of information to share, you'll want to focus on how you'll post that information. You can insert every update manually when you're ready to post it - but this tends to be quite time consuming. There's many scheduling tools which you can use:
Check out this table with a few of the different social media posting tools available:
3 Social Profiles
Basic Analytics Reports
1 profile per social media platform
10 scheduled posts per profile
|No free version||No free version|
| Pro: $29/month|
Up to 10 Social Profiles
1 Analytics Report
Key Performance Meterics
$500 ad spend limit to boost posts
| Pro: $15/month|
8 Social Media Profiles
100 scheduled posts per profile
and other features
25 Social Media Accounts
Pages, Groups, Company Pages
Library for Your Content
| Personal: $12/month|
8 Social Media Accounts
2 Instagram Accounts
100 Pending Posts
| Visit Hootsuite|
for additional plans and current pricing
| Visit Buffer|
for current pricing and additional plans
| Visit MeetEdgar|
for current pricing
| Visit PostCron|
for current plans and pricing
* pricing at the time of writing this article
Lastly, you'll want to remember to implement the 70/20/10 rule when sharing your information:
- 70% of your content should focus on the needs of your customers. How-to tips, answer a frequently asked question, link to helpful resources. Ask yourself if you were your customer would you find this information relevant?
- 20% focuses on content curation - or other people’s content. Share links to articles that others have written. When you share other people’s content your customers, your followers realize that you are educating yourself on what’s important in your industry and are willing to share that knowledge.
- 10% is where you focus on promoting your business. After putting 90% of your effort into other information, your audience won’t complain about bringing attention to your products and services. This is where you tell people about what’s happening with your business, do a little bit of self-promotion with your products and services.
When posting ask yourself:
- Would I engage (like, comment, share) this content if I saw it in my news feed
- Does this contain a call to action – please like, share, comment
- Would I share this photo if I saw it in my news feed
- Does this add value to my audience
- Is this educational, entertaining, or inspirational?
2. Do Your Social Media Strategy
This is where you get busy and implement the plan you created for building your social media strategy. One of the best ways to implement your plan is by using a social media calendar. HootSuite has a free social media calendar on Google Docs which you can use.
As you’re building your social media strategy calendar don’t forget the 70/20/10 rule. Here’s an example of how you would put that into action if you’re posting six times a day on one network (such as Facebook):
- 6 posting time M-F equals 30 posts
- 10% – self promotion equals 3 posts per week
- 20% – content curation equals 6 posts per week
- 70% – customer needs equals 21 posts per week
Making things perfect is not the goal here – simply do your best to follow your plan for building your social media strategy.
3. Check on the Progress of Your Social Media Strategy
You’re all finished building your social media strategy, right? Wrong! The third step of the Deming Cycle is to check-in and measure. What results have you reached? Compare those results with the goals you’d set out to accomplish.
Buffer offers a free Social Media Report along with an article about how to use it that I have found to be quite useful in my own social media strategy.
4. Act on the information you learned
This part is fairly simple – take the information you learned in step 3, compare it to your original goals, go back and revise your social media strategy in order to get closer to what you’d hoped to achieve.
If you find you’re trying to do too much and can’t keep up, you’ll need to scale back to a schedule that’s more comfortable and workable for what you’re able to handle. Adjust your posting times to coincide with your followers; scheduling your posts is a good idea if you’re not at your desk during ideal times.
Continually monitor your efforts and tweak what you’re doing as you begin to see results.
We Can Help!
Social media is an important part of an effective digital marketing strategy. We can help you put together a social media strategy that works for you.