I think one of the hardest things about selling social media solutions or campaigns has to be getting companies to understand you can't give them a media plan like you do in advertising. I understand the trepidation. No one likes to sign a contract or proposal with a big number on it and a rather nebulous set of ideas about "what we're going to do for you."
But if you're thinking about hiring someone to help you with your social media, understand this. The person you're talking to can't give you a playbook because it hasn't been written yet. Social Media is an organic space. Thus, while we can have a general idea of what we plan to do, we craft strategies but we follow discussions. That means that what we think we're going to do may, and likely will, change based on what we're hearing in the marketplace. Likewise, if you're talking to someone and they give you the complete plan, along with primary and secondary tactical implementation plans, well.... you may want to go get a second opinion if you know what I mean.
Most coaches try and script the first 10-20 plays of a football game. They may want to establish the run or go deep to force a defense to cover the entire field vs blitzing. Sometimes this works, but often, it doesn't. You see, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Once the game starts, you have to quickly figure out what is working and what isn't. Then make adjustments based on what is happening right in front of you in real time. And that is what Social Media is like... making real time adjustments based on what you're seeing every day on blogs, Twitter, your Facebook page and even your in-bound email stream. Sometimes this will mean you can just keep going because your plan is working, but often others you'll need to make an adjustment. And on those really great days, you'll discover a gem of an idea that will send you down a path you never even considered. But then, that is the beauty of communicating with your customer. They'll teach you a thing or two if you just listen.
What do y'all think? How do you approach game planning for your social media efforts?