If you’re trying to wrap your head around social media, you’re not alone. Everybody feels like they need to have some kind of presence on social media to capture the opportunities. Most people have trouble capturing these opportunities. So how do you gain a competitive edge on social media?
First you need to have a solid strategy. Once you have a solid strategy you need to work tirelessly to move it into motion. As we’ve said many times, social media is like weightlifting, not like improv comedy.
So how do you develop a strategy? I spent many years in the strategy consulting business and can digress at length on all the different philosophy and tools, but the formula that works best for us is here. Roger Martin’s summary is elegant and comprehensive:
- What is our winning aspiration?
- Where will we play?
- How will we win?
- What capabilities need to be in place?
- What management systems must be instituted?
That being said, following Martin’s method requires a deep commitment to the process and a deep understanding of your business, your customers and your environment. You have to be able to develop a strategy that covers every avenue of your entire business.
Does that sound like too much? If you’re looking for a quicker solution that addresses social media alone, this is a useful framework:
- Who are we writing for? Are they your customers? Advisors to your customers? A distribution channel? Getting clear about this drives everything.
- Where do we find our customers? You need to know where you find these customers. What do they read? Where do they spend time online? If you are going to build a reputation with them, you have to be easily accessible. Google is powerful, but it can’t make someone do a search. At some point you are going to have to reach out.
- What are we writing about? What problems does your target market have that you have some authority on? What’s something you can own? It doesn’t need to be huge, but it needs to be distinctive. There’s no point trying to write about a broad topic. It’s better to write specific content about solving a specific problem. There’s not much upside in being the 14th best blog in your category.
- What do we want them to do? Are you the sort of organization that lives and dies on daily traffic, or are you trying to create a reputation of expertise that will pay dividends down the line? Lead generation is a different beast than reputation management.
These questions are simple, but they’re not easy. And that’s the point–by the time you know enough to answer these questions, you are positioned to develop something useful.
We’ll talk more about execution later.