5 steps to an effective social media strategy

Why are we investing in social media? What’s our strategy here? It’s an important question, and all too often one that isn’t adequately explored.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to develop an effective social media strategy. But it does take some structured thinking. Which is why we have created a simple 5 step process for developing a social media strategy.

5 step social media strategy process

5 step social media strategy process

Step 1: Understand what strategy really is

Understanding strategy is important for any organisation. But it is easy to get confused about what a strategy is, and what it isn’t. A strategy isn’t a marketing plan or a project to develop a new product. Strategy isn’t tactical.

At the business level, strategies are about identifying organisational goals, and long term (typically 2 to 5 years) planning to meet those goals by allocating appropriate resources.

But strategies can also be developed at an operational or functional level. So businesses can have social media strategies that define the purpose of social media activities and plan (typically over a period of 1 to 2 years) how to meet them. Two main elements to social media strategies then: what the goals are; and how we are going to achieve them.

So far, so theoretical. In step one there has to be senior level agreement as to how the project needs to be defined. This means appointing a senior project leader,  supported by a board level social media champion.

Step 2. Establish the scope of social media

The next step is to define the scope of  social media within the organisation. This must be done by the project leader leader and the social media champion. They will need to do this in order to agree exactly who should be included in the project team.

This is because social media means different things to different people. Does it include paid advertising on Facebook; does it include wikis; does it include reviews on Amazon; does it include social news and social book marking?

Depending on the organisation, there is a need to establish and agree precisely what fits into the social media space. Failing to do this may lead to confusions and disagreements at a later stage. More importantly it may result in important goals being left out of the project.

Step 3. Agree the goals for social media

What are the reasons for investing in social media? It could be many things. For one of Mosoco’s clients it is purely about CRM. For another, it is about establishing thought leadership.

There is no right or wrong answer. The reasons for spending time with social media can include a variety of marketing goals including:

• Marketing intelligence
• Brand promotion
• Brand positioning

But it doesn’t just have to be focussed on marketing. There can be sales goals too such as:

• Lead generation
• CRM
• Loyalty building

There might even be a need to influence stakeholders who are not customers such as:

• Employees
• Suppliers
• Investors
• Legislators

It’s complicated. So the social media team needs to take some time establishing social media goals, and agreeing how these fit with wider organisational goals.

Step 4. Agree on objectives and how to achieve them

This is where it gets busy! Goals are fairly broad but objectives need to be narrow and precise: they need to define:

• The current position
• The desired position
• The methods and resources that will be employed to achieve the desired position

Objectives need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time based). So if one of our social media goals is lead generation we need to define:

• How many (and what sort of) leads are currently generated via social media
• How many we want to generate in the future
• What methods we will use to achieve this
• Who will be responsible for implementing the methods
• What resources they will have, and
• How long they will be given

In practical terms some of the issues that need to be addressed are:

• Which platforms do our target audience use
• Of those platforms, which will be best for achieving our goals
• How will we achieve our goals on each platform, for instance:

  • Will we be proactive or reactive (e.g. engage with prospects directly on Facebook but use Twitter to understand customer concerns)
  • Will we use different platforms at different times to achieve different things (e.g. promote an event on Google+and a competition on Facebook
  • Will we have a different tone of voice on different platforms (e.g. more formal on LinkedIn and more approachable on Pinterest)

• What tools do we need (e.g. planning tools like Hashtagify, measurement tools like TweetReach, an editorial calendar, a tool for scheduling posts like buffer app, a budget for creating images and info-graphics)

Step 5. Lather, rinse and repeat

It isn’t easy to get social media activities right first time. Being able to measure the effect of our investment is key to any strategy. If we have considered our goals carefully and agreed SMART objectives we should know what success looks like.

And it may not look much like what we have achieved initially! If that’s the case, don’t panic. In any hard-to-predict activity like social media it is important to be confident and flexible, and to have an iterative approach to activities.

Measure, analyse, learn and improve.

If you would like to know more about developing your social media strategy then drop us a line at hello@mosoco.co.uk or call us on 07855 341 589.

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