Step by step guide to creating a social media strategy
Organisations no longer see social media as an optional extra, it's now and integral part of any communications strategy. This guide will give you a few tips to get started.
First of all what are you going to use social media for? Perhaps to evangelise your work and to improve profile and influence. This all needs to be really clearly defined. It’s your starting point. You also need to think about how you can stand out from the crowd – so whatever you are best at, best known for or else makes you stand out should be front of mind.
- Who are you trying to reach and which social media tools are they currently using?
This is quite easily researched by identifying organisations and individuals and looking at their use of social media. Are they on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter etc. Remember you need to prioritise your efforts where the people you are trying to reach are. For most organisations wanting to engage in policy matters Twitter is a good medium as that is where most of the players are very active.
- What are similar bodies doing online? What do their websites look like? How are they using video or Vine? Are they on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for example. Do they have a blog, and if so is it working for them? This will help us to work out their strengths and weaknesses, learning from their successes and mistakes and taking a shortcut to getting it right.
- What’s absolutely brilliant out there which you really like? Broaden your search don’t just look here: also study places where they are further ahead on social media, so there must be some great sites in the States and England, covering your field. There’s no such thing as an original idea these days, so there will be plenty of material we can lift and recycle.
Current Activity Analysis
- What are you currently doing online? And how much traffic and responses are you getting? Write it down because it will provide a benchmark to chart progress and identify areas where you can improve.
Here we need to be very specific so we have clear goals that can be measured. Very few organisations take the trouble to do this with social media so they can’t really say whether it has worked for them or not. Your objectives should be aligned with your overall strategy – if they are not it is hard to justify having any kind of social media presence! These will vary. Here is a private sector example: an antique shop which specialises in crockery.
- To establish "your brand" as the go-to place for vintage crockery not just in Northern Ireland but across the island, the UK and overseas.
- As measured by increase in shop visitor numbers, visitors to website, Facebook page etc
- Short term goal: from x to y; long terms from y to z
- To boost sales through online activity
- As measured by online revenue short term from x to y, long term from y to z
- To raise your own profile as an expert in the field.
- As measured by Twitter and Facebook followers and interaction through blog
- Short term x, long term y
- To build a database of subscribers, to achieve loyalty and repeat sales
- As measured by size of database, return on investment from email marketing campaign
- Short term x, long term y
Ok so you get the picture! All we are trying to stress here is that social media is not actually any different from any other activity. You need to have objectives and goals and you need to track progress towards them so you can adapt and fine tune. That’s why you need a fully responsive web site so you effectively “go with the flow” and follow demand.
Segmentation and Targeting: here we apply the knowledge gained by analysing our audience above to decide precisely who we are going to target and by which tools (Twitter, YouTube. Facebook, Pinterest etc) This is important because you need to prioritise and really concentrate on those channels which are going to be most effective because they are where your audiences go.
Positioning and Value Proposition You need to think through what is so great about what you offer and how you want to position your organisation (you’ll be doing this any way if you have a communications strategy, but it is amazing how often social media and corporate communications are not properly integrated! )
Engagement and Content Strategy Before diving straight in you need to plan out in advance what you are going to be saying and how you are going to use the channels identified. This gets right down to timetabling messaging.
Integration This is where you pull together all the channels and make them work together – so you would put your social media buttons on your emails, website, email and print marketing materials etc To have the right degree of flexibility you will need to ensure you have a fully responsive web site ie one which works just as well on mobile devices as on laptops and PCs.
Reach: Here we put the research above into practice and target our audience: building an email marketing database (if required) , following the right people on Twitter, Search Engine Optimisation of the website so people will come to you when they google stuff, running fun stuff and surveys on your Facebook page( if appropriate).
Act and Convert: Once we have built a website and got the social media channels up and running we need to ensure they do what they are supposed to do – ie help build traffic, interaction, visits and your influence!
Content: This is where you determine what you post where and how often
How much time are you going to devote to this and how much do you want to invest? If you are going to do this well, the biggest investment will be learning how to use the channels correctly and your time. Building an effective social media presence takes time, effort and a lot of patience.
Once everything is up and running you need to regularly measure how well it is all working, there are loads of free internet tools that can do this which I can share with you
That then leads back into a fresh situation analysis, so you think of this list as a circle and go through the process again, and again …
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