Before “the season to be jolly,” comes the season of making business plans for the year to follow.  I suspect that many of us are less than jolly about the prospect of prepping for the planning meetings and retreats to come.  Chances are that just the thought of these get-togethers starts visions of flip charts, white boards and dry-as-dust PowerPoint presentations dancing in our heads.

I can’t tell you how—other than quitting—you can escape these exercises, but I can tell you something you and your colleagues need to talk about…social media.  Specifically, how will you use social media to sell more than your competitors in 2013?

You are remiss if you scoff at the potential of social media to boosts sales.  Leaving SM tools like Twitter and LinkedIn on the table might mean that you’ll be leaving a lot of dollars there, too.  I don’t want you to do that, and so I’m going to suggest some discussion points for your planning sessions.

First, as the justly revered Mr. Covey has said, “Begin with the End in Mind.”  What outcomes do you want from your social media efforts?  Will you aim to strengthen your brand, heighten your companies name recognition, promote events, identify new prospects and referral sources…  What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish?

Work backward from your desired outcomes to discuss your content.  What is it that you can share with your connections, followers and friends that will spur them to do or think or want what you want them to do or think or want?  Will you share industry news, company news, product features, your vision, mission, blah, blah blah…?  What about your success stories…how you’ve helped other clients attain new heights via the solutions you’ve provided to their challenges and opportunities.

Work backward from content to consider as many delivery channels as you have time to discuss thoughtfully.  By all means, start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but don’t stop there.  Consider Reddit, Digg, Scoop.it, Paper.li, Tumblr, Pinterest and more.  Don’t worry about spreading yourself too thin; once you have a chunk of content, perhaps an announcement of a new product, sharing it through a dozen or more channels won’t take more than a few minutes, which leads neatly to my next topic…

Work backward from the channels to discuss what skills you and your associates will need to develop in order to push your content through to them?  How will you develop the skills you’ll need?  Can someone already in your organization teach the rest of you to share or tweet or scoop or stumble your content?  Do you need to bring someone in from the outside?

Work backward from skills gaps to followership.  If you tweet it, who will hear you?  How are you going to get more LinkedIn connections and Tweeter followers?  How are you going to get your blog posts in front of more readers?

Finally, capture the Who, What and When of every building block in your Action Plan; who will do precisely what, and by when will they have done it?  Leave this out, or fail to hold people accountable for fulfilling their commitments to the group and you might as well have skipped the conversation altogether.

One last admonition is to have all members of the group prep for your planning session by becoming personally well acquainted with LinkedIn, Twitter and at least one other SM channel.  Give them the above questions to ponder an advance of your get-together.  To recap…

  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • What content do we have to offer?
  • What channels do we want to use?
  • How will we become competent?
  • How will we grow our followership?

Whether you’re bad or good at all of this next year will matter.  Scoffers may find slim pickings under their holiday trees when December 2013 rolls around.