Social media is a miniature industry in its own right – and believe me it will likely grow in complexity and size; fast and furious. If you are looking at blogging, Tweeting or posting on Facebook or YouTube, you’d better think through a strategy first, or face potentially dire consequences.
More people are writing about this topic these days and I thought I’d give you a taste of what they are saying:
Piet Levy at the American Marketing Association feels that companies should focus on the following steps in the development of their social strategy:
Define Your Business Goals Setting your strategy starts with understanding your business objectives
Know Your Audience and How They Use Social You should already know your core audience, but you also need to know how that audience engages with social media.
Look at Other Companies If you’re just starting out, it’s good to follow some social stars and your direct competitors to see what they’re doing.
Set Milestones to Track Your Progress Set up some reachable objectives to start. These goals will help direct your path.
Astrid Idema, an Internet Marketer with over 10 years of online experience working for international companies like eBay and Brother, goes even further. She lays out not only some definitive steps but also identifies specific ideas and tactics:
1st step: Define goals Every strategy starts with the definition of clear goals. What is it that you want to accomplish? The four main goals are:
* Branding * Engagement * Traffic * Customer Support
Social marketing can lead to: * Reach: enlarge reach, visibility * Reputation management: follow and influence reputation and brand experience of a/the target group online * Engagement: interaction with target groups * Innovation: gain new ideas for product innovation through interaction * Loyalty: building relationships with customers * Acquisition: reach new target groups * Sales: additional revenue
2nd step: Define the place of the social strategy within the organization Depending on your goal there can be more departments involved in the social activities like: * Marketing * PR * Customer Support
3rd step: Allocate budget A social strategy and activity isn’t a one time event but a continuous process therefore people and budget must be assigned to it.
4th step: Define your target group * Who is your target group? * Where is your target group online? * What are the needs of your target group? * Where can you add value for your target group?
5th step: Listen before acting Before getting active in social media it is wise to research where conversations take place. Just follow conversations about your brand and products. Learn from these conversations and use this as input for your strategy to decide the place where to become active and the best tone of voice.
6th step: Become active Paul Gillin described the STRAIGHT principle for social activity. In social environments it is important to be: * Succinct * Transparent * Responsive * Accepting * Insightful * Genuine * Humorous * Timely
Add Value, reach the right person, with the right message, at the right time. This will lead to personal engagement and relevancy.
7th step: Optimize social activities constantly * Measure the results of your social activities according to the set key performance indicators * Embed reporting in your organization * Distribute the results * Optimize your activities
Social media is having a profound impact on businesses – some good, some bad. I think we all know about the good, however the bad is often hidden and people don’t talk too much about their failures. The biggest danger is that many people are diving in to social media without any pre-planning, and that is akin to crossing a highway on foot without looking left or right.
Like anything else in business, promoting business through social media needs to be well thought out otherwise it could do one of two things: hurt your business or brand if it is not positively perceived, or it will suck you dry in terms of the time and effort it takes to do it properly.
Beware – do it right by planning it properly and the effort may pay off. Remember: social media is not the holy grail so it may not be right for you and your business. By planning it properly, you can find that out before you embark on a potentially impossible dream.
DIY Social Media Marketing can work if you really know what you are doing. And have the time to do it. If you are not CONVINCED that you have all the information and knowledge to do it justice – ask for help. As time goes by it is getting more and more complex.
Social media should be part of your digital strategy. Don’t treat it as a simple stand-alone solution.
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