We all know that in the business world, social media is booming. Some companies are doing it right, and some are doing it wrong. Either way, someone within that company has decided that they need to be doing social media and off they go, signing up to every social network under the sun and creating profiles left, right and centre. But how can a company gauge whether they are actually doing it right, or should even be doing it at all? That would be a little, or not so little (depending how you feel) document called a Social Media Strategy.
You will need to ask yourself some questions before you get started:
- What is my current social activity? – Undergoing a quick audit of what you are currently doing to reach your audience socially and reviewing its effectiveness will allow you to build a strategy based on experience and knowledge of what works already for you.
- Who should I be trying to reach? – This sounds obvious, but there are companies out there who make profiles and just sit and wait for anyone, they don’t care who, to communicate with them. That is not the way to do it. Creating a Social Media Strategy is the perfect opportunity to do some insightful research and really learn about your customers and those potential customers out there just waiting to hit your ‘Like’ button. By understanding which social network you should use to contact each target audience you will already have done the hard work. And luckily for you, I have already found some key facts displayed in a lovely infographic that will help you choose which social network you should use for the target audience. It is also worth learning about how your target audience uses social media, in order to configure your tactics.
- What am I trying to achieve by going social? – Many businesses think that having a presence on social networking sites will guarantee an increase in their sales figures dramatically. If this is you, stop what you are doing because this goes against everything that the social community stands for, and you will stand out for all the wrong reasons. Instead of thinking “what should I post, tweet or blog about that is going to make me more money?” consider how will you engage with your target audience, generate a positive brand presence within their space and turn that into a relationship. You have the chance to really engage with your target audience and create a relationship where you can learn information that will help you improve lead generation tactics, customer service capability and more importantly information that thousands of pounds of quantitative research just doesn’t get you; real up to date thoughts, feelings and perceptions direct from your audience. Set out what you want to do as objectives and you can then begin to create achievable KPIs.
- How much time do I have? – This is an important question to ask because it will help you allocate resources effectively. Do you have a team that will be doing this for you and are they in touch with the marketing department to make sure that all activity, both online and offline are working together? If you do not have a lot of time and a big team to help you tweet, post and blog all day, consider what networks you should be using. This information can help inform a specific content strategy, so you know how many tweets you use, how many pins you put up and how many posts you do a day, week or month.
- What are my competitors doing? – Are your competitors following social media trends? Gauging what your competitors are doing in the social sphere will give you insight into what you should and shouldn’t do. Then you can aim to do better and come up with creative output that really grabs some audience attention. Don’t be afraid to do something different, you want to stand out.
- How should I engage with my target audience? – This is where the previous research comes in. If you know what sites your target audience are on and how they use them, you can then create a set of tactics that you can use to engage with them. If you are stuck for ideas, why don’t you try writing a blog and posting updates and links on your Facebook or Twitter page, creating engaging online video content, or running a Facebook competition? The most important thing is to create a specific content plan, detailing the number of times you communicate on any given social channel, what type of content you talk about, and how that content is communicated.
- How do I want to use social media in the grand scheme of things? Using social media on its own will not individually generate the overall financial return that you are probably looking for on its own. Consider pulling it into the marketing mix because with any successful marketing campaign, there hasn’t been just one tool used in the marketing toolbox to create that success.
- How do I know I have done a good job? – Monitoring and control is key. Use your objectives (created in stage 3) to create KPIs that you can use to monitor communication effectiveness, engagement and data capture. Once you have this information, you can use this to amend tactics and keep going. Try to implement a monitoring session every month, with a review on tactics every three months or earlier.
Once you have asked yourself these questions you then have the information you need to build a strategy. This doesn’t have to be the length of the bible but it should be specific enough to give structure and focus but also allow creativity in communication in order to meet objectives and follow KPIs. So in short, a plan that details who you want to talk to and why, how you might go about doing that, what else is happening around you and in your business, and how are you going to monitor and control these efforts.