If your company is using social media, it is VITAL that you have a strategy and plan in place that’s guiding your efforts. Not only will your efforts be much more successful, but it will save you a ton of time and money since your efforts will be focused. And it will be much easier to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
So why don’t more people have a social media strategy in place? In most cases, they simply aren’t sure how to create said strategy. This post will hopefully help with this ALL too common problem. So if your company is using social media and ‘winging it’ without a plan, please share this post internally. If you have friends that are trying to get social media efforts off the ground at their company, please pass this along to them. We will not see REAL growth from companies using social media until more of them get SOLID plans in place that are guiding their efforts.
Let’s get started on making that happen. Here is a framework for creating a social media strategy for your business.
First, think about what you are wanting to accomplish with social media. What are your goals? Here’s some examples:
- Build awareness for your company
- Increase sales
- Increase customer leads
- Establish thought leadership
- Use social media as a customer service platform
- Provide product support for customers
- Collect feedback on existing or potential products and services
- Build a place where customer evangelists can connect
Second, think about who you are wanting to reach. Is it current customers? Potential customers? Industry sources? Potential clients? Who is your ‘target market’? Creating a simple monitoring system will help you determine the answer to this question. By monitoring online mentions, you can get a good feel for where the online conversation about your company is happening, and how active it is. Want to jump on Twitter? What if no one on Twitter is talking about you? Monitoring will help you determine this. You can use premium tools such as Radian6 or Techrigy, or if you are a smaller business it’s probably fine to go with free tools such as Google Alerts and Twitter search.
Third, what are your resources? What’s your budget for social media? How many employees are available to work on your social media efforts? Will you have to outsource some of your efforts at the start? Will you have to outsource all of your efforts at the start? How much time can you devote to social media?
Answering these questions will greatly determine which tactics (blogs, Twitter, Facebook) are best for helping you achieve your social media strategy. Let me state this again; Getting on Twitter is NOT a social media strategy. Twitter is a tactic used to execute a social media strategy. You first need to answer the three questions above and THEN decide that Twitter is the right (or one of the right) tactics to help you achieve your goal(s) for social media.
So let’s say you’ve answered these three questions. Your goals are to use social media to build awareness and increase sales. That means you will primarily be targeting new and potential customers. Now let’s also factor in the answers from the third question about your resources.
On the surface, a goal of using social media as a way to build awareness for your business and increase sales sounds like a great opportunity for your business to launch a company blog. But a blog carries with it unique time and social media skillset requirements. That’s why you also need to factor in your resources. Do you have enough time and people available to ensure that the blog will regularly have fresh content available? Do you also have the people available to spend time connecting with readers and potential customers on and off your blog? If not, do you have the budget to outsource some or all of these efforts?
That’s why you must consider all three questions at once. And after you have answered these questions and now have your strategy in place, and have decided on the social media tactics you will use, now you have to figure out how to measure the effectiveness of your strategy. At this point, don’t blindly assume that more traffic or followers or friends is best. Make sure that the metrics you measure tie back to your social media goals. If your end goal for your blog is to sell more widgets, should you measure number of comments per post, or number of referrals from the blog to the widget product page on your website? Does it really matter that you have 10,000 followers on Twitter, if only 10 of them are potential customers?
Put your metrics on trial. Make SURE that whatever you measure makes sense in the context of what you are trying to accomplish with social media. More traffic is great, but what actions are those visitors performing once they arrive at your blog or message board? If you are adding 100 fans a week to your Facebook page and still can attribute no additional sales from Facebook fans, so what? (BTW this opens another can of worms, but it could be that your Facebook fans ARE driving sales, but you don’t know that because you aren’t tracking them correctly, or at all)
At the end of the day, you have to have a strategy guiding your social media efforts. And I know that some CEOs hear the term ‘social media strategy’ and immediately get nervous because they think it means a lot of $$$ and a big commitment. What it means that you are going to ORGANIZE your social media efforts and make them more efficient. Just because an intern got you on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t mean you need to be on either site.
Once you get a strategy in place, you’ll save time and money. You have a strategy driving your other marketing efforts, why should what you are doing with social media be any different?
Thanks to Esther for suggesting this post!