Starting a Social Media Strategy

blueprintsThis post begins a small series within the Social Media 100 series where we can start discussing the parts and premises of building a social media strategy. I’ll want your help with this. We can build this collaboratively, and I believe that the end results are that you’ll have some tools to build out your own social media strategies.

Consider this the warm up for the end piece, though I believe this piece has some value in helping you even begin to start your planning process. Tell me if you feel otherwise, and we can improve it together.

Begin with the End in Mind

Strategy isn’t the goal. It’s the path you plan to take to get there. So, let’s put some goals out, and then talk through how to build a strategy to reach them. Here are a few sample goals. Feel free to add some to the comments, if I don’t cover yours.

  • Increase customer base.
  • Generate leads.
  • Drive sales.
  • Build awareness.
  • Make money from your content.
  • Establish thought leadership.
  • Educate customers.
  • Customer-source part of your product development.
  • Reach new channels of customers.
  • Improve internal communication.

Did I miss any? Feel free to add some to the comments.

Questions Before the Strategy

Before we go too far down any one path, we should ask some questions:

  • Are your customers likely to be online? Note that lots of people are online these days, but it might be that you have a product or service that isn’t as frequently purchased via the web. What’s your story?
  • Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs and videos allow for negative comments, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.
  • How will you incorporate this into people’s daily jobs?
  • How will you measure results?
  • How long are you willing to give it a try?
  • What’s your willingness to experiment, take risks, and adjust your plans?

Just those answers might tell you a bit about your business, whether or not you decide to go forward with building a strategy using social media tools. Remember, it’s a lot easier to NOT listen to customers and just blast your messages out with no regard to how they’re received.

Strategy Starters

If we’re going to put a social media strategy into place, we need to align the path we’re going to take, and develop it with an understanding of how to reach our goals. Where are we going? How are we going to get there? Let’s get there. How do we know we’ve arrived? Simple, eh? Let’s start in on the “how.”

  • Listening: implement at least a rudimentary listening platform. We’ll cover this in a later post.
  • Communications: build a starting place to hold your conversations. And by this, I mean a blogging platform.
  • Methods: determine the mix of content you intend to create, and build workflow around it.
  • Community: most social media strategies have to address community and how you will embrace the people you seek to gather around your business.
  • Neighbors: develop a plan to reach out to others in your community, comment, and share.
  • Outposts: develop social network outposts where you can communicate with other communities, and also share the way back to your own platform.
  • Marketplace: if your strategy involves making money, build a marketplace external to your community. Keep these separate.
  • Attention: learn how to build awareness and encourage relationships with the media you’re making.

Are these all the basic regions of strategy that you might want to see covered? Am I missing any? Let’s talk about that in the comments.

What Comes Next

Once we discuss this a bit, I’ll build the next post in the series: Social Media Strategy for Businesses. I’ll build it with your input.

What do you think? What else should we work into the larger piece to make it more useful to your needs?

The Social Media 100 is a series of posts pertaining to the use of social media and social networks to build business. To make sure you receive each one, subscribe for free to my blog. Also, check out the completely different content that I produce in my free newsletter. Each is a separate piece of a larger informational product. And as always, thanks for your attention.

Photo credit, Todd Ehlers

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