It’s surprising how many times I talk to business owners who say their company is on Facebook “because every one else is.” While I applaud them for taking the steps to get online, I shake my head at their process. Why do they have a website? Why do they have salespeople? Why do they have a marketing department? Why do they have an accounting deparment? Is it because everyone else does? NO, it’s not. So why should Social Media be any different?
Companies form multiple departments and set annual budgets to ensure the overall success of the company. They devote resources to training, software, tools, and techniques to create efficiency. They spend hours and dedicate teams to analyzing ROI and revenue generated. And yet Social Media is often an after-thought. And then companies complain when “it doesn’t work” for them.
Social Media is an active part of the business as a whole. It needs to be treated as such in order to be a success.
A good Social Media strategy will be a set of guidelines used to establish a road-map for online success. It is not a Social Media policy (a set of rules for online behavior) – that is a separate entity. The strategy is used to outline the goals and determine the resources needed to successfully execute online marketing.
First and foremost, a company must sit down and determine what they want to achieve from their online presence. Is the goal to gain more customers, more revenue, launch a new product? Whatever that goal is, this is what the Social Media platforms need to target. Once this has been determined, it is important to assign (or hire) employees to take responsibility for managing the platforms. These people will have the autonomy to post on behalf of the company in order to reach the goal that has been set. Once a team is in place, regular discussions and brainstorming sessions need to occur to best determine the type of posts and content to be produced and on what schedule. This is an ongoing task – Social Media success takes time and repetition.
Social Media also needs to be a part of the overall marketing strategy. It is imperative that once a Social Media team (or individual) is in place, they sit down with the marketing team. What is the general message of the company, the perspective, the goal, the challenges? These need to be incorporated into the Social Media strategy. Then the audience and their needs to be determined. What demographic is the audience? What type of information are they looking for? What do they like? When are they online? How often do they check their pages? What platforms to they use? If this information isn’t readily available, companies can always ask! Put out a poll or survey online to determine exactly what they want. Then give them what they want! Don’t give them information they don’t want or on a schedule that conflicts with their usage.
Once the Social Media platforms are in place and the strategy has been determined, it is imperative that the engagement is monitored. Without monitoring and analysis, how can a company know if its strategy is effective? Levels of engagment (number of likes or retweets) is not the only metric, nor is it really effective. Analysis must be done on the amount of time and money spent on maintaining and advertising in relation to the number of conversions, customer service responses/solutions, and leads generated.
It may take some time up front to properly establish an effective Social Media strategy. But it is well worth the investment. It can always be amended or updated to evolve with the changes of the business and online community. It must be understood though, that without a proper strategy in place, Social Media will not succeed for a business.
Do you have any tips for creating a great Social Media strategy? Please add them to the comments below.