Many of the top experts in social media agree that success in online business is widely contingent on developing and following a proper social media strategy. However, for all the many different tips and notations provided pertaining to how to implement numbered steps, it’s much harder to find information pertaining to the development of the actual strategy.
Sadly, many social media marketers have no clue what a social media strategy really is. They think it’s about how many sites they’re on or how many additional tools they can compile to automate the process.
Before you make this mistake and believe that social strategies are comprised of social actions rather than carefully planned steps, let’s have a look at the keys to developing a proper social media strategy.
The Keys to a Proper Social Strategy
1: Understanding What “Strategy” Is
As a general is about to send the brigade into battle, there’s a lot he or she must examine. The landscape, the elements, the enemy force, the weaponry available, the morale of the squad, and, most importantly, the end goal; i.e. what the desired result is. Unfortunately, people entering into social media rarely view a “strategy” in the same way. They think a strategy is creating multiple profiles and immediately building an audience with social media.
This is marketing. Bad marketing at that; fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants marketing, with no guarantees, no thought put into it, and no defined goals to speak of. So before you make this blunder, understand what a true strategy is.
2: Developing Goals
The first real key to a successful strategy is to define what your goals are. Referring back to the brigade example, we see that there are multiple potential goals here, with each specific goal requiring a different way of reaching it. Capturing enemies, destroying enemies, converting enemies, defusing the enemies, disarming the enemies – each goal would most certainly require different steps to reach successfully. The same holds true with your social media marketing.
10,000 fans by spring, a 15% uptick in sales, 40,000 new leads, increased brand awareness and trust, or any other goal you have that’s a standalone, specific goal; it all requires a different path to reach. Defining these goals as a business is what’s going to act as the groundwork. The rest of your strategy is subsequently build atop that foundation.
3: Researching the Market
Back to the battle: We see that casing the enemy is vital to the mission’s success. What type of weaponry are they using? How well are they entrenched? How much fight do they have in ‘em!? This same type of research would need to be completed across the entire landscape of your business if you wanted to create a winning strategy.
You want to know about your competitors, about your own business (employees, resources, etc), how well the market is doing, the layout, rules and atmosphere of various social sites, and other important factors. Proper research paints a good picture of the terrain, which not only allows you to adjust your goals accordingly but also allows you to follow through with the subsequent strategic steps.
4: Being Realistic with Your Budget
Waging any battle is expensive, and this is something forces definitely have to keep in mind. In a fiscal sense, we see eerie parallels to business. Your initial hardware and software, your employees, additional software, advertising, unforeseen expenses – it all adds up. A proper strategy takes into account a realistic look at the potential costs of doing business effectively per your intended goals, juxtaposed against available income. What results is your budget.
Treating your budget seriously and being realistic about having to spend money to create a successful social business presence is something you will find to be incredibly important.
5: Analyzing Your Aggregate Findings
To recap: We have examined what a “strategy” truly is. We have examined different potential goals of your business. We have looked at a broad range of research topics—from your competition to your potential customers—to help you understand what you’re walking into. And, of course, we have briefly discussed the importance of spending money wisely. Now you have to view this information in the aggregate.
When you put everything together, what exactly are you looking at here? Do you have to adjust any of your goals to fit? Do you have to locate a different market, change your product, attack the competition head-on, or any other potential change in plan? Think of this step like compiling your essay research. You’re just about to create the template, but you have to first make sense of the many different data you have accumulated.
6: Putting the Strategy Together
This is where your strategy comes together. Remember: This information isn’t about what you do with your strategy and how you personally attack the market as a business. It’s simply about how you go about developing a proper strategy. For that, you’ll have to take the information you gleaned to create a system:
- Your defined goals
- The market you want to attack
- The niche you want to target
- The sites you want to use
- How you plan to engage with people
- Analytics software and ad-management tools
- The money you want to spend
- The experience you have and the experience you’ll need
- The time available to handle the task
- How you plan to implement your strategy to accomplish your goals
Developing a proper strategy to help you navigate the business terrain is what’s ultimately going to separate you from your competitors. Using social media all willy-nilly to attract a few fans isn’t a business strategy. You need to define your goals, examine the landscape, and subsequently create a plan of attack to help you achieve success.
Post written by: Simon Campbell, a writer from a facebook ad campaign tool – Qwaya. He loves to write different topics about social media and participates in some communities and forums. If you have more social media marketing questions, feel free to ask Simon on Twitter