How to create a Social Media Strategy

Six years ago if a client asked you for a social media strategy you’d look at them like they had two heads. While social media existed in the minds of a few six years ago, it most certainly wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. There isn’t a marketer in the world who hasn’t been asked about Facebook or Twitter. As marketers in an ever changing industry, how you respond to these questions can make or break you. Today were going to work on making you through the development of a social media strategy.

More and more clients are requesting that their agencies and local consultants provide guidance in social media. I’ve put together a guideline for how you can create a social media strategy that is sure to make clients happy. And if you’re making a social media strategy for your own business or within an organization, this is sure to help you look like a rock star.

Define Your Business Goals

Now before we get into it I have one request when defining goals. Please, do not make the mistake of confusing business goals with social media goals, they’re not the same thing. I repeat: Please, do not make the mistake of confusing business goals with social media goals. This is a mistake that I see happen WAY too often. Our social media plans must start through an understanding our clients business goals NOT our social media goals – Those come later.

The goals we look at during this phase can be defined as the businesses most important intentions. That is, these are the things that the business wants to do through their marketing efforts. Let’s pretend our client is a major cell phone manufacturer who consumers tend to trash on a regular basis due to their poor customer service.

An example of a business goals for this company would be:

  • Improve Customer Satisfaction Rating

Sounds good right?

WRONG!

Let’s hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Let’s give the client/business a goal that they can actually measure. Sure this could even be the goal they put in their marketing plan but instead of giving a generic goal as seen above let’s give them something they can actually hold us accountable for. What? Are you afraid to be held accountable for your work? If that’s the case, you’re in the wrong business. Until there is a significant increase in the level of understanding of digital marketing, were in a position where everything will be tracked.

An example of an accountable business goal is as follows:

  • Increase our Customer Satisfaction Rating by 20%

Now by setting this goal you immediately build some credibility with your client. I mean, what client wouldn’t want to increase their customer satisfaction rating by 20%? None of them. Trust is key and the more specific you can get with your goal the better your chance of developing that trust.

Understand that social media is still something that many businesses don’t quite understand or even believe in. Just the other day a lady asked me if there was any true ROI attached to social media.

So, I sent her a few case studies and in the matter of a few hours she responded with a simple “Okay, let’s do this, I didn’t know so many people used Facebook.” To some of us who live in this social media world, it seems obvious, but to others, there are still a lot of questions.

Taking all this into consideration along with the information above, we should aim to be even more specific the accountable goal above.

A quick and easy way to remember the key elements of a great business goal is the acronym, S.M.A.R.T. This is an acronym that for the five steps to great goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. When building this SMART goal you need to work closely with your client. By working closely with the client you’ll be able to ensure that you’re not just taking a random guess at what your client wants and are instead achieving goals that are the most important.

Using the same example above, our goal would be something like this:

  • Increase our Customer Satisfaction Rating by 20% by the end of Q4

How did we come up with this? Let’s break out the SMART formula and check it out:

  • Specific: Increase CSR by 20%
  • Measurable: Previous and Future CSR
  • Attainable: With the right Strategy it is
  • Relevant: Customers are complaining about customer service
  • Time-Based: We have twelve months to achieve this goal

Once we’ve identified our overlying goal and what will ultimately drive every decision there after, we can move on to defining our strategy for this client.

Develop The Actual Marketing Strategy

This is where a lot of digital marketers have issues. The first problem is that they start developing a strategy without even looking at the companies goals. For those “strategists” I have a solution that will make your job twenty times easier:  Social media strategy generator.

For those looking to come up with strategies that are relevant and actually have the ability to create positive change for clients, I think I can help. When building  a social media plan you really need to understand the difference between a strategy and a tactic. Your strategy choices need to be clear so you’re not relying solely on tactics. A good way of remembering the difference between tactics and strategy can be seen in the bouts of Muhammad Ali. A good tactic that Ali used was coined the Rope-A-Dope, a good strategy was doing whatever he could to make the opponent tired.

To ensure consistency, let’s continue using our cell phone manufacturer with poor customer service as an example. In this situation, we have identified that the business goal for this company is to increase customer satisfaction by 20% by year end.

A few strategies that you could use for a client looking to achieve this goal are as follows:

  • Develop a customer service team to engage consumers on a deeper level
  • Establish a communication channel between customers and customer service team
  • Develop a solid fan base and brand evangelists

Define Your Objectives

Once you develop your strategies you should easily be able to allocate objectives that are aligned with them. It’s important to ensure that these objectives (like goals) are measurable and can be used as key performance indicators down the road.

A couple examples of objectives that would be used in the example above are as follows:

  • Decrease the number of consumer complaints by 15%
  • Reduce comments that have a negative sentiment about the brand online by 10%
  • Develop  a Twitter account that communicates with 75% of people who express complaints
  • Create a Facebook page that has over 500 connections (25%) by the end of the year

Not only are these objectives that every client would love to see, they are also objectives that can be easily measured. The objectives above specifically outline which elements need to be measured and how long they do in fact need to be tracked.  Tracking these results are important along the process because it ensures that you can inform your client of progress along the way.

Identify The Appropriate Marketing Tactics

Once you’ve developed strategies and objectives you will be able to more clearly designate which tactics you will implement. The tactics are the fine tuned execution items that you will implement to achieve your business objectives. In the book Art of War, Sun Tzu writes:

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Meaning, you can execute any  tactic you want and create a little bit of buzz. The issue is, if you don’t use tactics that are aligned with your overlying strategies, your “tactics” will simply be considered noise to the rest of the world. An example of this is seen everyday when agencies tell their clients they need to be on twitter and never explain how it works. This results in everything from over posting to social media burn-out… In turn, the client’s business looks bad and the objectives never get met.

Here are a few tactics that would work wonders in the example seen above:

  • Provide 5 full day training sessions on social media monitoring and crisis management
  • Develop a customized Facebook tab where customers can submit their concerns to the customer service team
  • Run a premium Facebook advertising buy driving connections to the clients fan page

And that’s all she wrote…Now get out there and make some magic!

And remember, strategy without execution is pointless.

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