Getting your brand on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ isn’t a social media strategy. Yet, for some small businesses and non-profits, slapping the Facebook and Twitter logo on their website and in the window is the extent of their plan. Sure, they put up a few posts now and then, when they have time, and they’re wondering why they aren’t experiencing the benefits they’ve heard about. They haven’t found engaged customers, let alone an impact on the bottom line, and they are becoming frustrated and giving up.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, there are seven steps you need to take toward developing an effective social media strategy.
One of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability to listen, to get a sense of what is going on in your field and with your customer base. Spend some time looking around to see how your customers are interacting online, and how your competition is utilizing social media. You’ll get a feel for what to expect and for what is possible with social media.
#2 Goals and Objectives
Once you’ve spent some time poking around and getting a feel it’s time to start asking some pretty straight-forward questions.
- What am I hoping to accomplish?
- Where does this fit in my overall marketing strategy? (You do have a written marketing strategy, right?)
- Who will own social media?
As you begin to answer some of those questions you will be able to write down some specific goals. As you do, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T.
S – Specific
This is no time for generalizations. “We want to engage customers and increase business is not specific enough.” Be very clear about what you are planning to accomplish so you know when you have.
M – Measurable
Make sure you can evaluate your progress with some real numbers — not just a gut feeling. “Talk with 10 customers on Facebook each week as follow-up after a purchase” is something you can track.
A – Actionable
Make sure your goal starts with a verb, that will ensure that the next step is clear. You know exactly what to do if your goal starts with talk, post, share, message, etc.
R – Realistic
Dream big, but not so big you make your goals unreachable. If you’re a small, local business you probably won’t have the fan count on Facebook that Coca-Cola does. But you don’t need a customer base that big. Make sure your goal is a couple steps outside your comfort zone.
T – Time-based
Every goal needs a date to go with it. Without a date it isn’t so much goal as a wish. Put a ship date on it and plan to deliver on time.
Once you have your social media goals and objectives written down, it time to create a plan for how you will achieve them.
#3 Develop Your Social Media Strategy
A strategy is an idea – a way to accomplish your goals. Using social media to connect with customers in order to increase customer retention or customer satisfaction are strategies. Strategies are a big picture look at a way to achieve your goal. We often want to skip over strategy and get right to the tactics, but speeding some time here is essential if you want to meet your objectives.
#4 Put Your Plan To Work – Tactics
Here you will begin to look at what social media platforms are best suited for your brand. You’ll answer questions about where your current customer base spends their time online, and where you might be able to find an expanded base of potential customers. Is a corporate blog a good fit? What type of content works best for us — text, photos or video?
Once those questions have been answered, it’s time to take action. It’s time to execute the strategy. When writing out your tactics you’ll see items with action words – “Create a content calendar”, “Write a blog post about how to …”. It’s at this level that you develop and distribute content.
#5 – Measure
Once you start executing your plan at a tactical level it’s time to begin measuring your efforts. This is the only way to know if your social media strategy is working. Unfortunately, this is where many social media strategies go awry. The leading culprits are usually goals that aren’t measurable, measuring the wrong things, and not utilizing the technology available to get the data you need. Again, be very clear about what you want to measure and make sure you have the tools in place to give you the information you need.
Having raw data about visitors to you blog, numbers of fans engaged on Facebook, and Re-Tweets on Twitter is great, but not very helpful if you don’t take the time to evaluate the numbers. Spend some time here and find out what type of content is resonating with your customers, what time of day and what day of the week are they engaging, and how many of them are moving from on-line engagement to walking into your business. Taking the raw data and drawing useful conclusions allow you to take the final step toward an effective social media strategy.
After you spend some time evaluating the data, it’s time to take that information and put it to work. It may be time to re-visit your tactics, or to toss them out and start over. If you don’t measure and evaluate, you can’t improve and you can’t improve without changing what you are doing. Experiment a bit and find out what works best for your business.
Do You Need Help?
Maybe you aren’t seeing the success from social media that you had hoped for. Perhaps it’s from unrealistic expectations, or perhaps it’s due to not having a written social media strategy in place. Or maybe your strategy is great, but the execution isn’t what it could be because of time limitations or lack of technical expertise.
Whatever the problem, we can help. We can come along side you and evaluate your current strategy, or even help craft one for you if you don’t have a written strategy. Maybe you are finding you just don’t have time to execute at the tactical level, we can help there too. Click over to the contact tab and let us know how we can serve you.