Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Integrated Marketing and Media, Social Media Marketing

7 Critical Elements of Your Social Media Strategy

(Originally written for MarketingProfs Daily Fix)

It’s fantastic that interest in social media is so high, but I’m alarmed at the number of brands and agencies that are ready to jump into social media to take “advantage” of audience concentration in Facebook, Twitter, and other fast-growth outposts. What’s lacking in most social media programs is an actual strategy. If you don’t know precisely why you’re in social media, with whom you want to engage, and how you’re going to measure success, you’re not ready to start.

I use a 7-step Social Media Strategy Worksheet to create a framework that governs what the initiative aims to accomplish. (You can download free Social Media Strategy Worksheets here, and use them as much as you like, with attribution).

Step One: Describe the Business
Sounds basic, but if you can’t describe the precise value proposition of the brand in a sentence (without a bunch of mission statement crap-ola), you need to figure that out first.

Step Two: Business Goal
Trying to do too much in social media muddles your message and confuses your fans. You can focus on one goal for a while, and then change objectives later, but don’t try to tackle multiple goals simultaneously. There are only 3 realistic business goals for a social media effort. So pick one of these.

  • Brand Ethusiasm. Turning customers into fans, driving repeat purchases.
  • Sales. Using social media to create first-time customers or to introduce your brand.
  • Loyalty. Decreasing customer churn, improving customer service.
  • Step Three: Where Is the Audience Cyclically?
    Huge segments of your customers and prospects have wholly different relationships with your brand. Some have never heard of you. Others are raving fans. Which are you trying to reach in this program? You need to be specific here because what your target audience already knows about you dictates what you can credibly have a conversation about in social media. Pick no more than two of these:

  • Awareness. They’ve maybe heard of you, vaguely.
  • Interest. They’ve heard of you and maybe have visited a Web site. No purchases.
  • Action. They’ve made a single purchase.
  • Advocacy. They are fans of the brand. Frequent purchases, tell their friends, etc.
  • Step 4: How Does the Audience Use Social Media?
    Rolling out a social media program that features a customer photo contest is going to fail spectacularly if your audience isn’t prone to content creation. Using the Forrester Social Technographics Ladder, determine how your audience behaves within social media. You may have to guess on this one a bit, but better yet how about surveying your customers via email and ASKING THEM how they use social media? Pick one or two from among these: Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators

    Step 5: The One Thing
    To be successful in social media, you need to distill your brand into the one thing that’s truly interesting, and in most cases it’s not product related. Figure out your one thing, and bring it to life in social media. Social media may be word of mouth on steroids (says Gary Vaynerchuk), but if you don’t give people something intriguing to talk about, they’ll never open their mouths.

    Step 6: How Will You Humanize the Brand
    Why do consumers love social media? Because it puts them on a more equal footing with brands that have been historically shrouded, impersonal and aloof. If your social media strategy doesn’t put a literal or figurative face on your brand in one or many ways, you’re missing the point.

    Step 7: How Will You Measure Success?
    Pick three metrics that matter to your company, and measure them consistently and well. Ideally, establish a baseline before your social media program starts. If your business goal is loyalty, you can measure true ROI by focusing on churn metrics. For brand enthusiasm, you can focus on repeat purchases. If you want to get more granular, there are dozens of potential success metrics like share of voice in social media, blog posts and tweets, comments, fans/friends in your social media outposts, etc. I’ll leave those details for another post or experts like KD Paine, but please pick only 3 success metrics. Nobody wants a 27-item results report or dashboard.

    Download Social Media Strategy Worksheet

    (photo by The Pug Father)