Social Media Strategy Part 2

Hola my friend, this is the second post regarding developing your own social media strategy. 70% of people fail and abandon social media as a brand development tool because they have no strategy. Please read the last post to get a start on this.

This post goes deeper into “how” to develop a strategy and at the end gives a link to our own HPR strategy example.

Strategy isn’t the end it’s the path to get there. So, let’s put some goals out, and then talk through how to build a bunch of objectives to reach them.

Social media is just part of an overall customer experience. Social media does not have its own orbit rather it belongs under the heading of Public Relations. So, ask yourself, “What will I learn from our social media work that can be applied across all other areas of marketing — oh, and product development! — to make our customer experience more enjoyable, our content more accessible, and, ultimately, more conversion oriented?” A good social media strategy will extract insights from various social media platforms and leverage them to help improve both your own strategic view and the strategic plan for your business. (Adapted from the excellent work of Chris Brogan.)

Here is a side note: If you aren’t playing around in social media now, then just jump in and have fun. Try it out. Hire a teenager to help you understand the platforms…have fun! Remember, you don’t have to use it just because it is there, but you do have to understand what it is all about because, most likely, many of your customers are using it! Remember, if you aren’t at the table, you are likely to be part of the meal.

Your Social Media Strategy should help you develop the following:

• Increase customer base.

• Generate leads.

• Drive sales.

• Build awareness.

• Make money from your content.

• Establish thought leadership.

• Educate customers.

• Customer-source part of your product development.

• Reach new channels of customers.

• Improve internal communications.

• Increase buzz about your business

• Build social and political capital (remember it is part of Public Relations)

Did I miss any? Feel free to add some.

In the last post we explained about the four pillars of creating a social media strategy:

1. Communication

2. Collaboration

3. Education

4. Entertainment

You must keep in mind all four of these pillars as you create and activate your social media strategy.

Before we go too far down any one path, we should ask some questions:

• Are your customers likely to be online? Note that lots of people are online these days, but it might be that you have a product or service that isn’t as frequently purchased or researched via the web. What’s your story?

• Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs and videos allow for negative comments, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.

• How will you incorporate this into your staff’s (or your own) work load? Are you willing to take on some interns and train them?

• How will you measure results?

• How long are you willing to give it a try?

• What’s your willingness to experiment, take risks, and adjust your plans?

Just those answers might tell you a bit about your business, whether or not you decide to go forward with building a strategy using social media tools. Remember, it’s a lot easier to NOT listen to customers and just blast your messages out with no regard as to how they’re received.

Strategy Starters:

If we’re going to put a social media strategy into place, we need to align the path we’re going to take, and develop it with an understanding of how to reach our goals. Where are we going? How are we going to get there? How do we know we’ve arrived? Here are ten key actions to create a Social Media Strategy:

1. Communities: Most social media strategies have to address several “communities of common interest” and dividing your customers (present and future) up into several well defined communities that have common interests is important. Then how will you encourage these communities to gather around your social media content? Since social media is part of Public Relations in marketing we mustn’t forget that there are seven publics in Public Relations and these can be used as guidelines as you look into your community structure:

1: Press (media) relations (don’t forget bloggers)

2: Employee relations

3: Community relations

4: Educator relations

5: Consumer relations (*this is the biggie)

6: Stakeholder relations

7: Management relations

2. Key Influencers: From within these communities list out, with full contact information, the key influencers. Those are the people if you help them understand who you are and what you do may influence many others. (This is the most time consuming part of developing a strategy) but also the most important. It is critical to note that it is an ongoing process and should involve at least 10 new key people a day).

3. As best as possible try and track down the top key influencers from each community and see what social media platforms they are using. Also, don’t forget that the key word in Social Networking is “networking”. With programs like facebook and My Space, Linkedin and others, you can reach your key people by finding friends that you have in common. Then an introduction is easy.

Pause here to follow number four before moving on to the next part of the plan.

4. Spend several months just listening and seeing what the on-line conversations are all about; be a good little puppy and don’t bound into the pack all slobbering with enthusiasm.

5. If you have the resources, assign a Community Manager (paid and with good writing skills) to become part of, and to handle, a community (it is best if the Community Manager has an interest in that particular community). From within the community, cultivate an “Evangelist” to work with your Community Manager (unpaid).

6. Communications: Create your social media platforms so that they will bring people to an understanding of who you are, what you know and what you do: Micro blogs such as Twitter, facebook, My Space, Linkedin and E-Newsletters are commonly used to shout-out and point people to other information you want them to know about. The next step points to>>>> your blog, where you show your expertise and knowledge in a casual and friendly manner and certainly NOT in a sales-like manner. Blogs can also include V-Logs where you are showing your knowledge but on video (such as YouTube). Once convinced of your expertise, these blogs and V-logs can point towards >>>>Your Web site where finally they really understand what you have to offer. Please understand that although this is an ideal progression, people will jump in at any one point and go on to another (if they are interested), so you must cross reference your platforms at all points.

7. Listening: Implement rudimentary listening platforms such as Google Blogs or Technocrati or others.

8. Message: Determine the message and the mix of content you intend to create for each community, and build a calendar around it. Remember your bottom line is to create “buzz”. Learn how to build awareness and encourage conversations with the content you’re creating.

9. Measurement: How are you going to measure your success or failure in the social media arena? Remember, it is not the Return on Investment (ROI) that counts in social media, it is the Return on Engagement (ROE). Here are some suggestions:

• Buzz, (conversations that go three or more in depth)

• Friends, followers, joiners, eyeballs

• Readers of your blogs

• Comments on blogs

• Newsletter subscribers

• Unique Web site users that have come to your Web site from tweet links, or blog links etc.

• People who complete “conversion” activities on your Web site (you decide what those conversion activities are.)

10. Test: Try out your message with your peers and your consumers. Don’t be afraid to ask “what would think if I said this…” Continue asking that question all the way through your social media campaigns. “How am I doing” is the most neglected and important question in business.

Many of the answers cannot be received until you assimilate into the communities and conversations. But thinking of these situations ahead of time is no different than anticipating the hard questions from reporters before a press conference. Prepare yourself with answers, then read and react. It’s not the soup-to-nuts of a social media strategy, but the answers to these questions are at the core of successful ones.

Remember, there are as many paths to successful social networking as there are human beings. This is simply a guideline from which you can develop your own style.

See how HPR social media coaching has created its own Social Media Stratgy Example for you to use.

Thank you for reading this post. Please read past posts and forward on to your friends.

The next one will be posted next Sunday. Follow Twitter for shout-outs about new posts on The Buzz Master Blog.

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