Plan ahead – create a social media strategy

Understand upfront what your goals and objectives are with a social media site so that you know how to manage, monitor and maintain it effectively.

Issues to cover
Aspects to consider
What are your objectives for using it? Set objectives clearly.  For instance, your objective may be to improve customer service, provide customers with more timely updates on events, promote products/services in a particular region to gain ‘x’% market share by a specific date, or some other objective.
Which social media sites will you target to attract your target audience? Be sure you’re targeting the right social media sites for your business.  Do your prospects use social media and if so, which ones and for what purpose?  You want to be where your customers and prospects are engaging.

If you’re not sure, consider conducting a customer survey.  You can also research which social media sites your competitors are using and compare your target customer’s demographics with those of the social network you are considering see if they align.

What is your expected return and/or how will it be measured if not in dollars? By developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business, you can determine the value of your social media programs. Key KPIs generally include raw community growth (those ‘following’ your company), engagement level, traffic, and email/sales conversions, but will vary depending upon your company’s social media goals.
How much will it cost to maintain?
Will you need to hire someone or outsource the activity to write, monitor, and maintain the activities for you?
What is the frequency of communications?
In other words, if customers see that you don’t respond in a timely manner, will that negatively impact your company image?  Frequency may also be dictated by the medium you use. Facebook may require updates more often than Twitter, etc.
What tactics will you use to drive interest and how will that affect program costs?
Will you use coupon sharing, discounts, or referrals to incentivize prospects to share your content and if so, what additional logistical issues in your supply chain do you need to assess to ensure retailers understand how to meet expectations.  Also, how will the program impact your bottom line?
Is it important to control who sees your updates for safety or competitive reasons?
Messaging  – both texts and images – will need to resonate with your target audience, yet abide by laws that are implemented to protect people from harmful exposure to language or material that is not considered generally acceptable.  For instance, you would not want to post anything pornographic to an audience under age 18.

You should also limit company or employee sensitive information from being shared on social media to limit legal liability or trade secrets from being used by competitors.  Depending upon your offering or message, you may want someone with legal training to review potentially sensitive postings.

Who is responsible for responding?  Is there an escalation policy for critical issues, and how are those critical issues defined?
Depending upon the size of your business, a social media or internet posting policy may be warranted to guide employees and third-parties who support your outreach efforts.  Training may need to be conducted as well to help define what’s critical to upper management and what is not.  Negative comments can lead to legal actions such as slander, defamation, or invasion of privacy if those discussing your business are not careful.
Does an attorney or legal representative need to see proposed postings?
Depending upon the nature of your business and the issues being discussed, having legal counsel available to guide responses or postings may be warranted.  Ensuring your business has proper media liability insurance may also be something to evaluate.

Regardless of your objectives, you’ll want to set expectations appropriately with the target audience – whether promoted to internal or external audiences.  With your social media strategy defined, you’ll then need to manage and maintain your presence on each social media site to meet expectations you have set.

Discover more…

  1. Barone, Lisa.  “How To Pick The Best Social Network For Your Brand.”  Business Insider, Inc.  Last modified December 16, 2010.
  2. Cooper, Belle Beth. “10 Surprising Social Media Statistics That Might Make You Rethink Your Social Strategy.” Buffer (blog). Last modified July 16th, 2013.
  3. Dawley, Sarah. “4 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Social Media Manager.” Hootsuite (Blogs). Last modified May 16, 2016.
  4. Forer, Laura. “Trends in Social Media Marketing: B2B vs. B2C Marketing [Infographic].” MarketingProfs LLC. Last modified August 8, 2017.
  5. Jackson, Dominique.  “Ultimate Guide to Measuring Social Media ROI.”  Sproutsocial. Last modified February 6, 2017.
  6. LePage, Evan. “How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan in 6 Steps.” Hootsuite (Blogs).  Last modified June 27, 2017.
  7. Lozano, Dhaiana. “A 10-Step Checklist for Social Media Strategy Success.”  Industry Dive. Last modified February 15, 2018.
  8. McMullen, Darin J. and Joshua Gold.  “United States:  Effectively Managing Social Media Risks.”  Anderson Kill. Last modified December 17, 2013.
  9. Schottmuller, Angie.  “Social Media ROI:  How To Define A Strategic Plan.”  Incisive Interactive Media LLC. Last modified December 24, 2012.
  10. York, Alex. “7 Steps in Creating a Winning Social Media Marketing Strategy in 2018.” Sproutsocial. Last modified February 19, 2018.

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