Four steps to set your social media strategy on the right course
I’ve just written a midyear status report for one of the clients for whom we manage social media, and it’s reminded me of a few success factors that can make or break a company’s efforts when it approaches social for the first time. Chief among these is having a sound social media strategy in place.
Without a strategy, you’re at risk of wandering aimlessly and wasting budget. Your strategy is your compass that will help you steer a true course.
It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but a strategy should clearly state your business goals — not your social media goals, your business goals — and then explore the ways in which social media can accomplish those. Do you want more footfall to your premises? Are you looking for more applicants? Are you trying to change market perceptions about who you are or raise awareness of an under-exposed brand?
When we write social media strategies for clients, here are the areas our reports examine:
1 – Assess what you’ve already got
Have you been engaging online already? Look carefully at what content your followers have reacted to, and what fell flat with a dull thud. Examine who’s following you. If there are influential people or organisations who you’ve neglected to follow back, don’t beat yourself up, but make a note to follow them back — NOT RIGHT NOW, but once you’ve kickstarted your engagement in earnest. They may check your timeline of what you’ve shared recently, and you don’t want them to see your out-of-date seasonal content or dusty old posts from a year ago.
2 – Raise awareness with visual content and hashtags
Still on the topic of assessing what you already have, go find what photographs, logos, videos, written articles, or downloadable content (such as product sheets or white papers) that you can share online. Make sure you put those content assets someplace you (and others who may be managing or monitoring social) can reach, like a Dropbox or Google Docs folder.
Then, do some research to find what visual content your followers (or the followers you’re targeting) are already reacting to; does it give you ideas on what content you can curate (re-share from elsewhere) or create?
Don’t forget to sniff out the hashtags that are popular with your intended followers; liking or replying to posts with those tags, and using them in your own posts, is a fast way to draw the right kind of attention to yourself.
3 – Look for ways to save time
Figuring out tools like Buffer and Hootsuite is worth your time: personally I rely on HootSuite and reckon it allows me to be 2 to 3 times more effective than I was before I began using it. I’ve demonstrated a few times how HootSuite can help you pinpoint influencers, and management tools of this type also make it easy to stack up and schedule several posts for gradual release over a period of time.
Hint: it’s ok to post about the same content more than once, but reword your posts if doing so. Social media is like snack food: your followers dip in and out for the occasional graze, rather than consuming every single thing on their timelines, so they may miss your first post but spot a later one.
4 – Specify a plan of action
Our social media strategies always close with key action points, prioritised by urgency. We also outline a budget and recommended time that should be spent on each social media network. If we’re going to manage social for you, or work as part of a team who do, communication is key, so we generate a content calendar (and sample posts that are right for your intended audience) to show how you can keep all parts of the team on the same page. Don’t forget to change passwords and ensure they’re robust, and check access permissions on your accounts: people who’ve left the company (or agencies no longer working on your account) should not still have access to your social media identities.
Having a strategy in place makes it so much easier to hit the ground running, once you have budget approval for social media engagement. Once you’re engaging online, the strategy document — along with the monthly status reports and metrics that you should be creating — are the perfect starting point for mid-year or end-of-year wrap-up reports that show the result of your hard work.
Are you thinking of ramping up your activity on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? Get in touch with Sheila in Edinburgh (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Deirdre in Cork (email@example.com ), if you’d like help getting your strategy into place first.
Sheila Averbuch is the managing director of the content services agency ENNclick, with offices in Edinburgh, Scotland and Cork, Ireland. You can reach Sheila at tel + 44 1875 341-583.
Compass image by AJ Cann on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/Ed72Jn
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