Developing a Social Media Strategy



We’ve been revising our strategy process internally here at SMC. At its core, that means closely examining each aspect of our strategy process and deciding what’s important, what isn’t, and what needs to be changed.

That review has forced us to think hard about the questions we ask and how we ask them, and it’s also shed a lot of insight on what key questions we think businesses need to ask when developing a social media strategy.

The answers will be different depending on what business you’re in, what size your business is, what goals you have, and more, but no matter who you are, there are some questions that you just absolutely need to have answers to before you dive in and start posting.

Here are 5 questions you need to ask when developing a social media strategy:

  1. Who am I targeting? Who’s your ideal client? Are they on social media? (If not, it may be time to rethink what you’re doing.) If they are, where can you find them? What do they care about? Having a deep understanding of your target audience and their needs will provide guidance for what you should be writing and curating, and who you should be writing and curating for.
  2. Who are my competitors, and which of them are on social media? If you’re Coke, is Pepsi on Twitter? Become intimately familiar with your competitors and find the businesses with social media presences. What are they posting? What’s their (apparent) strategy? Are there things they’ve failed or succeeded at that you can learn from? It’s good to know who you’re up against, and perhaps more importantly, you can learn a lot about social media by following and closely reading what others are up to.
  3. What voice and tone do I want? What do you want to sound like? How are you going to differentiate yourself from the thousands of businesses on social media? Do you want to sound professional? Do you want to have a sense of humor? Rather than focusing on abstract concepts (like “sounding professional”), come up with some clear examples of what makes good voice and tone and what doesn’t. This will force you to be clear about how you want to sound and will give you an objective standard for writing as your business.
  4. What are my key messages? Break down five key messages you want to focus on, and be as specific as possible. This could be “stories about the changing culture in media” or “examples of marketing in action” (tailored to your industry, of course). Your key messages don’t have to be all you talk about, but you should be able to clearly define the messaging that’s going to make up a large majority of your feed.
  5. What are my dominant sources of information? In defining your key messages, think about what sources you might want to draw from. Again, you don’t have to draw from them 100% of the time, but these sources will show the type of content you want to share and will give you a foundation to work off of. For the changing culture theme, that could be HBR, or AdWeek, or Hubspot, or Quartz. Find some poster children and craft a solid list of dominant sources. Don’t be afraid to pick out more obscure sources, either.

Of course, any social media strategy ought to be rooted in an actual business strategy–if you’re not explicitly clear about the long-term goals of your business, your social media presence will likely lack direction, as well. But once you get past the initial strategy stage and start moving into your messaging strategy, and eventually, execution, it’s essential not to forget these big questions we’re asking above.

The social media strategy you come up with on your first go-around will probably need to be updated in three or six months–and that’s totally okay! Your strategy should be a living, breathing thing, not something that’s set in stone and forgotten about months down the road. Don’t be afraid to tinker (in small amounts) and adapt your strategy as you see fit.

Good social media starts with strategy. Don’t forget to ask the important questions when it comes time for you to figure yours out.

Reprinted by permission.

Image Credit: CC by Sean MacEntee

About the author: John Darwin

John is a recent college graduate from Creighton University. He earned his B.A. in English, specializing in British Literature, and is currently working as an editor at Social Media Contractors.

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