Developing a Great Social Media Strategy

John Hope-Johnstone

John Hope-Johnstone

Goede dag (Dutch for “good day”): Sorry about the two week gap in postings, I am just sure your week was ruined without it! I was enjoying great family and friends time at Beach Acres Resort, on Vancouver Island, (what a paradise!)

In the last post we promised you that we would talk about the most important part of social media and that is developing your strategy.

If I were to take a SWAG (scientific wild ass guess), I would have to say that at least 70% of people using social media for the exposure of their brand are wasting a chunk of their hard work and money because they haven’t asked the one key question..WHY?

A teacher once told me; “just because it exists doesn’t mean you have to use it.”  I think she said “grasshopper” after that statement but time clouds my memory. If you haven’t answered the question “why” about what you are doing in social media and developed a strategy then you are sailing into unfamiliar waters without a map.

I have written in past posts that Social Media belongs under the marketing heading of “Public Relations”. Public Relations are defined in my book “How to Market Tourism in the 21st Century”  as: “The development of social, political and marketing capital through third party endorsements. Part of the value of third party endorsements lies in reproducing them, so they can live forever”.

As a tool of PR, Social Media has great value in creating both social (facebook etc.,) and political (Linkedin etc.,) capital and by pulling comments and blogs about your brand into your Web site you can make them live forever.

We dedicated the July 19th post, to the act of developing a Key Influencer List which is a big part of developing your Social Media Strategy.

The content of today’s post comes, in part, from a great book, (although very thick), . In this book Lon Safko and David Brake encourage you to think of your social media strategy as a platform supported by four pillars. You really need all four pillars, they suggest, stabilizing the platform and making your strategy work:

1: Communication
2: Collaboration
3: Education
4: Entertainment

As we discussed in the July 12th Post  the bottom line of social networking is to create “buzz”. Buzz is any conversation that goes three or more conversations in depth about your brand. Developing a Social Media Strategy answers the question; “what are you trying to get them to buzz about?”

The four pillars are levels of engagement and before you can develop a strategy around them, perhaps it would be a good idea to review what you’re already doing and the results you have been getting.

How to Develop a Social Media Strategy:

1: Divide your consumers into “communities of common interest” in other words groups that revolve around some common interests, (perhaps a lifestyle interest?). Look at your present customer base and see how you can divide them into market segments based on common interests. Don’t know? Better find out. Or, perhaps you have to create a new community, although it’s easier to join one. Remember, communities succeed only if they meet the needs of their members. The concept of community is fairly broad and many of these communities will overlap or operate interdependently. Here are five broad categories of the term Community of Common Interest:

                                          1: Metropolis Communities: facebook and MySpace are examples of this category, they are small countries within themselves with millions of members.
                                          2: Affinity Communities: Some people are passionate about National Public Radio (NPR). If you visit, you will see a lot of rich media that allows you to interact with NPR become part of the NPR community.
                                          3: Intercompany Communities:  Using such platforms as Ning and Wiki apps and others, companies are creating their own communities that allow employees to contribute and interact and get to know each other in a whole new way.
                                          4: Vertical Communities: These are often industry specific communities where people with specialized skills and expertise interact with one another. A community of international petroleum engineers would be an example.
                                         5:  Horizontal Communities: These communities are not industry specific but focus on functional groups with expertise or interests that cut across a horizontal path of other communities or industries.     

2: Develop a list of a minimum of ten things you want each community to understand and buzz about your brand (personal or corporate). These are the communication and education pillars of your Strategy.

3:  Figure out which the best social media platforms are (i.e. facebook, My Space, Twitter, Linkedin etc) or a combination, to reach these communities. (Read August 8th 2009 blog post).

4:  Who are the leaders of each community? How do you want to influence them and which of the ten messages do you want them to understand about your brand. This is developing your Key Influencer List [past post].

5: Find and engage those key community leaders, ask these key influencers to contribute to your social media. Become friends on facebook, follow in Twitter, join their Linkedin group. Mention them in your blogs and videos. Promote them and they will promote you and hence influence their communities. 

6: Decide on which units of measurement of success or failure you are going to use to gauge your strategies performance. For example, friends from the community involve on facebook or eyeballs on You Tube or followers on Twitter from each community.

Lastly (aren’t you glad),

7:  Each community needs a party. You Tube throws actual parties where members get to actually have face time, exchange ideas and have fun. Why don’t you be the party planner for your various communities? If not a party at least some sort of human interaction. This can be the climax to your social media strategy for the year!

Sorry, this blog post is far too long but the subject is incredibly important to your social media success. Let’s follow up with next weeks post on the same subject of “Strategy Pt2” but create a case study example. Ok?

Please comment on this blog love to get advice or embed it into your Web site or recommend to a friend. Thanks for reading Buzz Master.




  1. Great post! People love to connect with like-minded folks, and social media gives so many fun ways to do that!

    It’s really important for companies/individuals to have a good handle on what they want their virtual presence to be before jumping into social media. Do you want to present a formal tone, or a carefully informal one? Do you want to discuss the temperature of your tea and what you just spilled on your skirt, or do you want to discuss important industry topics? It’s like getting dressed for work each day; most of us don’t head for the office in cutoff jeans and t-shirts, wearing mismatched shoes!

  2. Wonderful post!


  1. […] Page ← Developing a Great Social Media Strategy Social Media Strategy (A sample plan) […]

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