Internet Marketing Strategy

8 Steps to Building Your Social Media Strategy

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Krista Neher

Apr 02 2010

Building a social media strategy is an important first step to success in the social media space.  It isn’t as simple as joining facebook and setting up a fan page or creating a twitter account.

I’m currently working on a book about social media marketing and I have had the pleasure of speaking with a number of companies that have successfully created and executed social media strategies.  One of the things that they all have in common is that they approach social media strategically.

Sure there are some successes that are flukes, however companies that consistently see results in social media approach it with a strategy in mind.  Here are the steps to a successful social media strategy.

1. Know your Marketing Objectives

What are you hoping to achieve with social media?  Are you going for awareness, sales, leads?  The first step is to understand what you are hoping to achieve.  You can then assess social media platforms against these objectives and also set measures.

2. Know your Target Audience

To be successful in social media marketing you need to intimately know your audience.  What are they interested in?  What gets them excited? What are they passionate about? Where are they online?

3. Develop a Content Plan

If you really know your target audience you can create a content plan that is meaningful to them.  What d they REALLY care about?  How can you connect with them by talking about things they are interested in?  What things, related to your product are they really passionate about.

4. Determine Calls to Action

Based on your marketing objectives you should be able to develop calls to action – action that you want someone to take that will ultimately lead to business value for you.  This might be getting their email address, having them call you, a direct sale online, filling out a contact form, etc.  Knowing your call to action or ultimate goal will help you really drive value from your social marketing.

5. Tools

Pick the best tools for the job.  Based on your content, target and calls to action look for the social media tools that are most likely to achieve your objectives.  The tools you pick will be a function of where your audience is and the flexibility and opportunities for marketers in the various tools.  For example you audience may be on Facebook (since most people are) but they may not be interested in fanning you, and it may be difficult to find them and connect based on the limitations of facebook.

6. Execute & Experiment

Execute your strategy with excellence.  Make sure that you have the time and resources to do a great job with this.  Set up different tests to evaluate different executions.  For example, tweet different things, pose your questions in different ways, try different days and times and see which tweets get the most traction and clicks.

7. Measure

Measure, measure , measure.  During the experimentation stage it is vital to test, experiment and measure your social media execution.  Your measures should help you decide if what you are doing is working.  Be cautious in your measures though and be sure to assess the real problem.  For example, if I gave you a screwdriver and asked you to put a nail into a piece of wood, you probably couldn’t.  It doesn’t mean that the screwdriver is broken, it just means that it isn’t the right tool for the task.  It would be wrong to conclude that 1) The screwdriver doesn’t work 2) The nail can’t be put into the wood.

8. Adapt

Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.  Don’t be afraid to abandon a strategy if it doesn’t work.  One word of caution – beware of your measures.  For example, you may have started using twitter to build awareness, but find that it is actually really effective for customer service.  If you only measure awareness you may miss the boat.  So, while your measures might be specific, be sure to look at tools and success in a comprehensive way.

5 Replies to “8 Steps to Building Your Social Media Strategy”

  1. Krista;
    An excellent article – thanks for sharing.
    It suggests a very similar approach to Social Media Marketing, or SMM, to the one we use. I’m a process bigot and so wrote a formal Process Description for our SMM campaigns which adheres to the 4 steps behind Continuous Process Improvements: Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat. Similar then to your ideas above, but for those who want to see how this translates into a step-by-step guide to implementing the idea, the link at the end of this comment is to our Process Description. The benefits of this approach are that your SMM campaigns will improve over time. Each time you measure your results, think about why they are what they were, and then Plan how to take action to either increase a trend, or reverse it if you went backwards or downwards, and then Do and Measure again, you cannot help but get better and better as you go.
    To help our clients get a handle on this, our blog contains 4 posts which deal with the concept in detail:
    1) How to Run a SMM Campaign. This is the formal process description on how to run your campaigns. And because it calls for one to measure ROI as one of the metrics to use in monitoring your campaign, the other 3 posts cover:
    2) How to measure the ROI of your website as a whole
    3) The 10 best free ROI calculators on the Web and
    4), How to build your own ROI calculator so that you can measure the ROI of your SMM.

    Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/cEc0ln

    1. Hi Eric

      I love the Think, Plan, Do, Measure, Repeat approach – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and the link. I think that ROI is sometimes overlooked in Social Media, but using approaches and metrics from more “measurable” areas like SMS is a big opportunity.

      Thanks so much for sharing this.

      – Krista

  2. Excellent post. I follow the Four Step process taught by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) — Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. It has really helped keep our social media efforts strategic. I liked what you said about experimenting. Sometimes, I think you can over-research and over-plan. You need to jump in there and do some testing — and then make adjustments. Thanks, Krista. Best of luck with your book!!!!

  3. Your steps are very helpful in thinking strategically. I especially appreciated your point on picking the best tools for the job. I’ve been frustrated with lackluster results in acquiring fans on my organization’s Facebook page, and I have realized that I should focus more attention on twitter as it seems my target audience is more engaged with that tool as opposed to Facebook.

    I look forward to reading your book!

  4. Thanks for sharing. Great article. Calls to action are so important. They seem an art. Writing good ones help focus the whole work. Thanks for the tips.

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