A few months ago, I attended a session titled “How to develop your social media strategy”. The impressive two-hour session run by the agency exposed our marketing team to a multitude of tools under the social media umbrella. By the end of the session, we knew that Facebook had 500 million members and Groupon and “Jump On It” were the same thing. However, we all struggled with connecting the dots on how the social media tools could help us achieve our business objectives. After the session, we were challenged as a marketing team to come up with a social media strategy.
So what is a social media strategy? Contrary to popular belief, a social media plan is not a standalone Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, or an iPhone app. The word strategy refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. Similarly a social media strategy is an insight-driven plan to engage your target audience to achieve your business objectives. The task seems straightforward but the intricacy of the channel and lack of standardised measurements make it hard for a lot of marketers to take the first steps.
Here are a few tips and tricks on getting started in social media:
1. Understand the role of each touchpoint
Your objectives will dictate the social media channels. Facebook and Twitter are great for building communities and driving two-way conversations with your target audience engagement. YouTube works well for sharing product demos, infomercials, and TV ads. Peer-reviewed sites like Tripadvisor.com and BeautyHeaven.com.au are great for generating reviews through alpha influencers.
2. Spend your time on developing and integrating content
Good content is what keeps people coming back. Relevant content adds value to people’s lives and encourages a two-way conversation with the brand. A great example of this is Masterchef Australia, a cooking reality show that attracts 1.42 million viewers. The show uses Facebook to share content from the show like videos, interviews, and recipes to share with its followers. No wonder the Facebook page has over 400,000 followers!
3. Work with experts
Most corporations have strict rules about engaging with consumers. Having a dedicated community manager to manage content as well and objections is important to ensuring ‘guided democracy’. This also gives you an opportunity to get the legal department involved and hopefully avoid any PR nightmares.
4. You cannot predict success
Sure there are videos that go viral, contests that attract a lot of buzz, and Facebook pages that get a lot of fans, but it is hard to predict the same. A good example is the Old Spice Guy – the most talked-about viral video of 2010. I am sure when Old Spice launched the campaign it never anticipated how popular it would get in the end.
5. Have a long-term plan
Your social media strategy goes beyond just a burst or a campaign cycle. Since conversations are continuous, it makes sense for your social media strategy to be for the long run. To maintain a long-term presence you will need the right capabilities and resources in the organisation in terms of evangelists who understand your brand and also your target audience.
6. Define clear metrics and lessons learned
With a lot of organisations and even governments jumping on the social media bandwagon, it is important to enter the social media space with a clearly-defined strategy and outcomes. A one-off blog, Twitter account, or Facebook page may win you fans in the short-run but will lead to a missed opportunity to build a competitive sustainable advantage.