4 tips to plan your online success in 2014

It's the beginning of a brand new year. But January will soon be a very distant memory. It's important –as that happens, to make sure the great progress you made last year with your online activity doesn't falter. You need to plan for success. Here are four ways to achieve this.

1. Reassess your website goals

When we are first contacted by clients to develop or re-develop a website, the first thing we do is send over our Project Briefing Sheet. This is an incredibly useful assessment sheet which focuses you on the purpose behind your website, who it's targeted at and a lot more.

If you already have a document like this then have a look through it again, see how things have changed and update it if necessary. You may well be surprised.

If you've not filled one out you can download ours here and fill it in. You don't have to send it back to us. It's purely for you to assess where you are.

Useful links:

2. Plan your social media

It's all too easy to have a scattergun approach to Social Media: to post tweets every now and again; update Facebook and LinkedIn statuses just when you feel inspired. However, we've found to get the most out of the various networks you need to have a plan –and don't worry, it doesn't have to be complex.

When we run campaigns either for ourselves or on behalf of clients we draw up a simple table in Evernote or Google Docs.

Using Evernote for example, we are currently running a campaign for one site promoting an event called CHLive for creatives. We are tweeting to highlight a different artist per day on Twitter and Facebook and using a consistent hashtag up until the date of the event.

To plan for this our table has the following columns:

Date Artist Type Tweet Scheduled
15/01 Richard M Lalchan Writer Follow the journey of Richard M Lalchan to published author of his first novella 'Green' http://bit.ly/1m0cdgm #chlive [x]

The cross at the end indicates the tweet has been scheduled to be posted on the date required. We use TweetDeck but there are many other tools you can use to perform the scheduling function. 

For our own site, we've drawn up a table using Google Docs -which you are free to download and use for yourself. As you'll see it allows us to list key sources where we find information relevant to our followers and clients, and we can in one sitting plan out several Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn posts that can be scheduled there and then or at a later date. 

We tend to plan 1-2 per week (varying the days of the week) and then post/tweet on an adhoc basis in between, when there's something topical we want to inform people of.

Planning it all out in one document allows us to see how each element connects together. It also means we're not sitting one day thinking, 'What can I tweet about today?'

3. Create an Editorial Calendar for regular blogging

In last month's newsletter we discussed the importance of content to the success of your site. The regularity of it as well as the quality is also important.

Now, let's have a bit of honesty here. We have been lousy in the past at updating our own site (rmlalchan.co.uk) and especially at posting blogs. But we know the importance of being able to regularly share our expertise with you to help push your websites further.

So along with our newsletter we are now posting more regular blog posts targeting a minimum of one per month (outside holiday periods), and our more regular short burst updates go out via Twitter and Facebook. You could do this too if you're not already.

When I used to work in the NHS, we had a Health Events Calendar nearby which indicated particular days relating to a condition or disease. This covered everything from No Smoking Day -12th of March if you're interested, to World Sickle Cell Day (19th June). This meant we were never stuck for subjects to write about.

You can use something similar, related to your industry, to help provide content that you have an opinion about and that relates to your target audience.

Creating a content calendar is simple. Use a table with a row for each month then write down a different subject for each month (–or whatever timescale you're using) to plan a year's worth of subjects. Here's an example.

Month Subject Submission Deadline Post Date Author Scheduled
Jan Planning for success 11/01/14 14/01/14 Richard Lalchan [x]

The submission deadline is when you know it needs to be written for, so make sure you leave enough time for editing and proof-reading. The post date is when it will appear on the site. Just as in the Social Media planning table you can now be confident you won't run out of subjects to write about.

4. Promote your latest work

We're all busy people helping to ensure our clients get the support they need. However, it's all too common to forget to promote this work.

Here's a few things you can do off the back of work you've completed:

Write up a case study

  • Ask for a testimonial
  • Request a LinkedIn recommendation
  • Update your website portfolio
  • Ask for the client to tweet about you

Planning ahead can make sure you have brand new content for each project you finish.

I hope that's been useful inspiration to kickstart your website progress in 2014. Let me know your plans in the comments.