Defining Your Social Media Strategy

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A while back I gave you permission to not be on every single social media site. (That was a relief, right?) I outlined the main questions (as well as goals) you should ask yourself before you take the plunge and sign up for each social networking site. Once you've decided where you belong, by answering the questions I posed, the next step is defining your strategy. [Tweet "Have you defined your social media strategy yet? Here are 5 key points you should cover."]

Many business owners sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc and just start posting with out outlining their strategy and defining what their overall plan is. It's totally common. As small business owners, we have to wear so many hats - and sometimes we cut corners. And let's face it there just never seems to be enough time in the day. BUT. As I say to all of my clients, social media should be an important part of your business, just like book keeping is. And if it's an important part of your business, then you should dedicate time and energy to it. That means outlining your strategy, creating a posting schedule, and dedicating time and energy, so you will have successful social media presence.

Below are the 5 key points I believe you should cover within your strategy. If you read the above blog post, you may have already started to answer some of these!

Goals

What is it you want to achieve through social media?

  • Sales?
  • Brand reach?
  • Building community?
  • Driving traffic?
  • All of the above?

It makes sense that you want all of the above if you're a business. Write these out and identify your overall goals on social, so you know exactly what you are trying to achieve. Next, you'll want to outline and define exactly how you'll achieve and meet these goals. This is where you really outline and define your strategy:  your voice, your content strategy, resources (time spent, and how you'll measure the results). [promo]

Voice

Your online voice is one of the most important aspects of your strategy. With the amount of social media snafu's we all see, almost daily, it's imperative that your brand's voice is identified and understood by you and and everyone who is posting on your channels. This can come naturally to you, or it may be something you have to spend some time thinking about. A great way to define your voice is to create a Style Guide: an outline of tone and attitude, how you'll speak to happy customers, and conversely how you'll deal with angry customers, subjects you'll engage on, others you won't (think national tragedies, celebrity gossip, etc), overall look and feel of each feed, etc. Your guide can be as simple as a bulleted one page document, or a few detailed pages with images, links, and scenarios. It's all up to you. Pro-Tip: keep this document as a living document so you can adjust and add findings and revelations as you continue to define your online presence.

[Tweet "Social media can take up a lot of time - hello, click bait k-hole. Be prepared with a strategy."]

Content Strategy

Creating content on social media is the meat of your strategy — without it you've got nothing. Everyone's content strategy is different depending on the brand or product and the social channel you choose. Since social media has become so popular over the past 4 years, creating content can look very different (and sound realllllly noisy). You may choose to create original content about your brand, or you may want to use a mix of original content and other content to compliment your brand's overall voice and mission. Your content should be framed within the voice you have defined for your brand and never really vary.

I have opinions on churning out useless content...but that's another blog post for another day.

Defining Your Social Media Strategy in 5 Easy Steps

Schedule

Next you'll decide when and how you'll post. Will you post Monday through Friday, or 7 days a week? How many times a day? Answering these questions depends on your business and the industry you work in. For example, if you own a retail shop, posting throughout the weekends is essential to drive traffic to your brick and mortar and/or online shop, keep your community up to date on sales, etc. Will you schedule out or will you post in real time? Social media can take up a lot of time if you're not careful - hello, click bait k-hole. Depending on what sites you are utilizing, you may want to use a tool to schedule like Buffer, Sprout Social, or Hootsuite. Facebook and Twitter allow scheduling, whereas Instagram is quick and easy and can be done in a minute (or a little longer if you are editing and curating your feed, which I highly recommend!).

Measuring, Monitoring the Results & Response Time

Now it's time to figure out how you'll track, monitor, and listen. After all of your hard work it's important to monitor and pay attention to what's working, and what isn't. You will want to track your successes, achievements, and strategies, so you know what is going on on social, but also as a reminder to that you indeed know what you or doing! Keeping track of successes on social media is a great way to feel better about your place there.

For monitoring and collecting data, 3rd party platforms like Buffer, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite, each offer a variety of statistics that run very basic (free) to deeper analytics (paid). If you have Google Analytics and want to track visits, sales, etc on your website take a look into Google's URL Builder. This tool creates special URLs to watch, monitor, and extract data across your posts. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it -- its a valuable tool.

Defining your response time is also a key part of monitoring your strategy. Many people head to social media to get timely answers, make sure you have a parameter around response time. It's always odd when I get a reply days or weeks later from a brand I have reached out to on social. Make sure you're paying attention to what people are saying about you on social. Keep notifications on in a way that won't drive you crazy, or make you obsessive (always an ongoing process!), but above all make sure you are getting them so you can continue to build your community.

In Closing: Be Realistic

Take time, start small, pay attention to what works with your social media strategy. Remember social media does not happen over night, set realistic goals, continually tweak your strategy, and pay attention to what other brands are doing that you admire. You never know what you'll learn from watching others! Social media is an important part of any creative businesses today, but it doesn't need to take over your life or feel impossible.

Have a question for me? Did I miss something? Let me know on Twitter.

Image by Death to Stock Photo