3 dreaded words. Mainly because designing a winning social media strategy isn’t fun and it isn’t easy. And, creating winning strategy takes a lot of experience, skill, and extensive knowledge of the opportunities, challenges, and measures of success surrounding your particular tactics — in this case social media marketing.
Look at this diagram showing all the aspects of a winning social media strategy! There are lots to think about, integrate, and get right if you want to succeed in your social media marketing efforts. It’s NOT all about creating a Facebook page or a Twitter profile then spewing out “news” about you and self-serving messages.
But, without the RIGHT social media strategy, you DO without a coordinated effort, little notion of where you’re going, your priorities, or any assessment of what you’re doing. And, THAT’S a recipe for DISASTER.
Steps in Building a Winning Social Media Strategy
Just like any other type of planning — from planning a vacation to a wedding — you need to know where you are, where you want to go, what resources you have to get you where you want to be, and a timeline of important tasks you need to complete to get you where you want to go.
Step 1 – Assess your environment
YOU are HERE
It’s nearly impossible to get where you want to go without knowing where you are. I mean think about reading a map. You need that little YOU ARE HERE arrow to know which direction to turn.
That’s what a situation analysis does for you — it’s that little arrow showing you where you are. Of special importance is knowing your competition. What are they doing? How are they doing it? What can you do BETTER than they are?
Head to head competition is not a GOOD thing and newer firms commonly lose to more established firms in such a competition. That’s the notion behind “Blue Oceans“.
Know your target audience
WHO do you want to market to? Sure, you should sell to whoever shows up, but you need to construct your strategy knowing who is MOST likely to buy your goods and services. That way you direct all your marketing efforts toward things they value, problems they face, issues they’ll find interesting rather than being all over the place and not appealing to anyone — think about the US auto makers and how their brands don’t really “fit” with any particular group.
What are your strengths — what do you do well? What resources can you commit to your social media strategy — include tangibles such as owned products and money, plus intangible resources such as time and network connections?
Step 2: Setting Goals and objectives
Be realistic. What do you realistically hope to accomplish with your plan. Having a set of reasonable objectives helps you set priorities, determine what actions to take, and generally directs your tactics. Be sure you have SMART goals for your social media strategy.
Step 3: Planning
Since a big element in a SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY is getting found, you can’t ignore SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Use the Google Keyword Tool or a paid keyword search tool to determine 6-10 keywords for your social media strategy. You’re looking for long tail keywords (phrases, not single words) that get lots of searches per month, with relatively low competition. Plan to use these keywords and variations of these keywords extensively in your content.
Topics come from your keywords and your knowledge about your target market. Topics should address consumer questions, provide information, be entertaining, or some combination of these.
Content creation and curation
You’ll need to create content on your planned topics, as well as curate content created by others (be sure to credit your sources). Alexa.com is a great resource for trending topics as you’ll generate more traffic if you tie your content to a trending topic in a logical fashion. For instance, in my social media policy blog, I created a post about the replacement referees in the NFL when a ref was replaced for having worn one of the team’s jerseys in a Facebook photo. I use Google Alerts to help find curated content. You should probably plan to distribute 20-30 pieces of content/ week and less than 20% of that should be about YOU.
Which social platforms will help you effectively reach your target market? How are these different ie. Facebook is more visual, which Twitter is more relevant for links?
What are your strategies for creating engagement and converting visitors to your social platforms?
What metrics will help identify what’s working from what isn’t? What elements should you A/B test before a full launch?
Step 4: Budgeting
Step 5: Contingency planning
This is the AW SH*T element of social media strategy. What do you do when things go wrong? The faster and more efficiently you handle a failure, the less impact that failure will have on your viability. Planning for things like negative mentions in social media, website downtime, or product failures is critical. So, setting up a listening post to track what people are saying about you is critical. Setting up a systematic way of transmitting found conversations to individuals who can handle them quickly is also critical.