6 Steps in Developing a Social Media Strategy

Social media has become a significant part of our day to day lives and companies are starting to see the value in adding it to their marketing mix. However, many are unsure where to start or how to develop a plan. With social media you can engage your audience in new ways, be more personable, develop new connections, and maintain the ones you have. Let’s understand the development of a social media strategy with these steps:
1. Hear what people are saying
What do people think about you and your brand? What are their points of views? Who are the influencers and which ones should you cooperate with? What are the various topics? Do they have grievances? What do they like about you? What works, what doesn’t, is something you have to determine.
What are their issues, opinions, and needs? How does this information fit with your value proposition? Understanding this information will help you determine how to best contribute to the conversation and how best to make a contribution.
Next, find out who are the ‘influencers’, people who command respect, and shape people’s opinions. Find people who influence your industry or niche and listen what they are talking about.
2. Identify your Goals
Now that you’ve heard your audience you should now be in a better position to establish your goals now. Your goal might be to drive a certain amount of traffic to your website or  to increase the number of followers in the next six months. Maybe you just want to establish you brand presence on the social web.
Consider not only your company goals but your audience’s goals. What are their needs and wants? You will get much further with social media marketing if you offer something of value. Many companies simply promote themselves on social without adding value to their audience hoping they will attract new customers or site traffic, but this seldom works well with social media.
Spend about 90 percent of your time providing valuable content and 10 percent promoting yourself. You can build more influence and trust with the value you provide your followers.
3. Develop a Plan and Time Your Content
Map out your approach to delivering content to your audience. Will you reach out and leverage influencers? Will you provide free material or samples? How will it be delivered? You may have products that are environmentally friendly. Will you moderate and lead a conversation about environmental issues? There are many creative ways to approach your audience. Be innovative.
Next, develop a timeline, preferably 12 months in advance, to identify events, promotions, or product launches that you are aware of. Now identify the content ideas you want to deliver that can supplement those events. It is like developing a media plan where you are timing your efforts so they are consistent and relevant to other events your business or customers participate in. You will find that it will be much easier to manage content creation efforts and allow you to plan ahead.
Now identify the social platforms you should use to deliver your content. Is Facebook the right platform for you? Is it a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? If so, you should develop a mini plan for each site and how you will consistently use each tool to accomplish your goals and objectives. Be careful not to go after too many sites too quickly. Ensure you start with one or two sites at a time and develop them so they are solid before moving on to another social media site.
4. Develop Good Content
Develop the content you have outlined from your timeline. This timeline will help you know what order to start building your content. This is where you really need to understand your audience and your brand. You must be highly creative and much of what you say within social media channels should sound like your brand.
Optimize your content with targeted keywords. Armed with a solid keyword research report with relative categories, you should be able to derive some great ideas for relevant content that will resonate with your audience. This content can come in various forms. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Promotions or offers
  • How to’s
  • Little known facts
  • White papers
  • Relevant statistics
  • Conduct Polls
  • Invite guest authors
  • Top 10 lists
  • Case studies
  • Guides to help educate
  • Interviews
  • Live events
  • News
  • Opinions
  • Photos
  • Gift ideas
5. Implement Your Plan
Now that you have a solid timeline and great content you are ready to post your content. Engage in the conversation and express your point of view. Remember to keep to your schedule and be constituent. Have the resources on hand to respond to comments and feedback so you can keep the conversation going. Remember, this is not a onetime activity but an ongoing one.
6. Measuring Success
As you know, the ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing activities is imperative to any company’s marketing strategy. Social media marketing isn’t as easy to measure as other online channels but it can be done. If you identified your success metrics then you’re already ahead of the game.
Depending on your success metrics you might look at content consumption.
  • Who’s reading your content?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • How much buzz are your articles generating?
  • Are you getting the required “Likes”?
  • Are the influencers onboard?
  • Are you keeping your audience engaged
Having a solid social media strategy can really help make a difference in the success of your campaigns. You will come off more polished and organized and viewed as being a real player in the social media space.

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