99% of the time I am asked to help with someone's social media strategy, the question comes back to their overall marketing strategy. Social media cannot be "executed" in isolation, it needs to be integrated with your overall business and marketing strategy.
But what are the steps?
Let's go back to marketing 101 for a moment:
- What are your business objectives? E.g. revenue goals, margin, customer growth in certain areas.
- How does this translate into marketing objectives? E.g. thought leadership, awareness, lead generation.
- Who is my target audience? Be as detailed as possible, including roles and titles you are targeting (more sophisticated businesses even create personas). Likely, you have more than one target audience, and likely you'll need targeted marketing messages for each audience.
- Where IS my target audience? This is where many social media strategies go bad. Instead of looking IF their audience is on social media, that assumption is simply made. Let's not forget that email is still one of the top marketing tools, showing solid results. So, do your homework. This step will take time but your future marketing success depends on it.http://marketingaccelerator.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/strategy.jpg You want to be meet your audience where they like to get their information and engage.
- Which are my top priority channels? Determine where your biggest bang for the buck likely is (you'll have to experiment to be sure). Dont' forget that "the buck" includes your time and other resources. E.g., do you want to apply "earned" or "paid" media? Don't bite off more than you can chew. The number one killer of social media projects is the lack of continuous "action". People start, for example, a Twitter channel, than don't "feed" it after a few weeks. Momentum dies. You have to provide updates on a regular basis to make an impact.
- What will you communicate? Create clear messages and a content calendar for the channels you have chosen. E.g., create a pipeline of blogs and have an editorial calendar for all your bloggers; schedule daily posts on your FB page; Tweet at least once a day.
- Is what you are doing working? Define clear metrics and find tools to measure. Tip: only gather data that you'll actually take action on. Frequently, data is collected for data's sake. Ask yourself, do follower numbers in themselves have a meaning, or should I focus on the growth rate and quality of followers? What allows me to fine-tune? Do not omit having qualitative goals and spending the time to look closely at the people you attract. Also, your effort to gather metrics has to correspond to the gain you get out of them.
>>>>> You are ready to engage. Allow yourself to experiment and figure out the best metrics. This is where discipline and creativity are wanted. Master the basics before moving on to more complex activities like TweetChats.
Happy Holidays and a Wonderful 2012!
A few additional links for information:
"Social media marketing is an addition to personal, small business, corporate, and non-profit organizations’ integrated marketing communications plans."
"Marketing strategy is a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage."