Social media strategy is kind of an oxymoron. It cannot—or at least should not—exist in a bubble, floating out there all by itself. It must integrate and support an overall marketing strategy, and the overall business goals. But so many companies don’t even think through how social media should support the business—and dive into it with no strategic goals whatsoever. Here are three simple steps to get you started in identifying the smartest ways social media can support your business:
1. Formulate Your Goals: As I said, social media isn’t a strategy unto itself, it exists to support your other marketing programs and business goals. Make your goals clear, focused and achievable, and tie them back to the overall business goals. Formulating your goals may be as simple as answering these questions:
- Do you want to increase visitor traffic?
- Manage your company’s reputation?
- Engage your audience and stay on its mind?
- Improve online conversion performance?
- Increase brand awareness?
Take a minute or two to write down your goals and at the very least discuss them with your social media team. Check back occasionally to ensure that you’re keeping your eye on the prize.
2. Conduct an Audience Analysis: It’s simple: a successful strategy is based on knowing your audience. Who is your audience? What’s important to them? It’s your job to determine how you can offer them fun or value—or both! Your audience analysis tells you which social media tools will work best and drives your content development. Once you know your audience’s likes and dislikes, you can craft appropriate and effective social media messages. Conduct an audience analysis regularly; because your social media strategy depends on how well you know your audience, it’s important to stay in tune with them.
3. Measure Success: How do you define a successful social media strategy? Go back to your goals to help you determine how you’ll measure achievement. You need to select key indicators to identify outcomes. If you’re obsessed with Facebook followers or retweets, you may be missing the point. Important metrics include conversions, opt-ins and page views on your website or blog. You want your users engaging with your company and as close to the point of conversion as possible. Fans and followers aren’t a business goal, but what you do with them is.
Social Media Strategists Can Help
When all else fails, call in the experts. If you find yourself struggling with putting pen to paper, or discovering the creative ways social media can and should support your specific business and audiences, perhaps hiring or contracting a social media strategist is the way to go. Or find someone who is experienced in creating strategic marketing plans to help you create yours.
What are your biggest challenges to developing the right social media strategy?