The strategy development process is by far, the most important element of the social media planning process. In fact, it may be the most important element of your social media presence in general. Without a strategy–and without regularly checking in to make sure you’re staying on strategy–your social media presence will often end up as a decentralized, off-message, resource-sucking mess.
But it’s not just as easy as developing an overarching strategy and calling it good. You need to take that general strategy you just developed and turn it into real, actionable guidelines. That means adapting it to each platform you hope to be on, and figuring out how your messages will best translate on all of them.
That can be a chore, but it’s certainly not impossible–not when you take the right steps, at least.
Have a look below for some tips on developing your platform strategies, as well as some examples to help you get started:
Facebook is great for images, emotion-driven content, videos, and other content that may be a little less serious than the rest of what you curate. The great thing about Facebook is that more than any other platform, you can use analytics to see very clearly who’s viewing your page and interacting with you. Use this to your advantage in crafting your content, and even individual posts. Our best practices show that posting no more than twice a day is best, spread out at different times throughout the day. Blogs are good here, as are images from curated articles. Don’t count on organic reach being super high, but do at least practice posting regularly and making sure you stay involved.
Example: Segment: People who want to work at SMC; potential clients vetting our SM presence. Purpose: Recruiting. Content: Videos and vlogs, photos, stories from around the office, and content that’s on-message but doesn’t necessarily fit our Twitter stream.
Twitter is far and away my favorite platform, and it’s also the dominant publishing source for most of our clients. On Twitter, you can post frequently and with a wide variety of content, making it an ideal stream for your efforts relating to thought leadership and brand awareness. Off-the-record, professionals tend to be more sophisticated here than they do on Facebook (Twitter is more rational in our experience), but don’t fall into the trap of posting content that’s only for folks in your industry. Remember: you are trying to market your business to clients, not to fans in your space.
Most, if not all, of your primary messages from your strategy will appear here, and this may very well be your most developed target market. If you’re going to spend time in one place besides your blog, do it here. Count on posting anywhere from six to twenty times a day. The sweet spot is right in between.
Example: Segment: Decision influencers in marketing departments. Purpose: Thought leadership and brand awareness. Content: Psychology of marketing, sophisticated marketing content, data from our own observations, blogs, stories of culture change, branding successes, etc.
Our professional opinion? Don’t spend too much time developing a strategy for Google+. For most companies, replicating (yes, cross-posting, even though we don’t usually recommend it) Facebook is a good strategy. Be sure to post your blogs with Google authorship. Otherwise, this is a back door to SEO, and not much more. The big exception would be tech companies, though even their presences are often underutilized. A good thing to have, but not a great platform to spend too much time on.
Example: Segment: The gods of SEO. Purpose: Paying homage to Google gods. Content: Blogs and duplicates from Facebook.
Ah, LinkedIn–the professional network that’s trying to be a publisher. Count on using this primarily as a recruiting tool, but don’t count out its utility as a platform for showing off to potential clients who bias towards the professional side. We like to publish long-form content and job openings on Twitter. (You can use it as a publishing platform, too.) Remember, however, that LinkedIn users have a low tolerance for bullshit. If you post too often or spam conversations, you’ll quickly find yourself in a race towards the bottom.
Example: Segment: People who want to work at SMC; decision influencers in marketing departments. Purpose: Recruiting, thought leadership, and brand awareness. Content: Recruiting-related posts, job openings, and long-form content that fits our overall marketing strategy.
YouTube is a bit of a crapshoot for most businesses. If you have unique content–webinars, vlogs, event recaps, etc.–to show, then give it a shot and try updating it once a month or so. But don’t just transcribe text to video and expect it to do well–videos are most effective in short, easily digestible bursts. Remember, too, not to half ass your presence. If you can’t do it well, stay off. But again, if you do have the capacity for it, YouTube can be a great value add when executed correctly.
Example: Segment: Same as Facebook. Purpose: Recruiting and brand awareness. Content: Vlogs, videos of events, short content summaries, sales videos, and webinars.
Instagram should probably not be your primary platform (unless you’re a cupcake shop, maybe), but it should be used as a supplement to your broader story. Remember, pictures are very impactful, and you’d be wise to use them. Demographics are somewhere between Facebook and Twitter. Use Instagram to show your lighter side and contribute visually interesting content to the rest of the text to which you’ve grown so attached.
Example: Segment: People who want to work at SMC; potential clients vetting our SM presence (though not as much of a concern as elsewhere). Purpose: Recruiting, brand awareness as it relates to culture. Content: Photos that show we have personality while also showing we’re professional. Everything from company outings to service events.
Count on your blog being the source whence all your thought leadership comes. Your social media pages are an opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge of your industry and your clients; your blog is your opportunity to really show your stuff and contribute your own facts and opinions to the broader picture you’re painting. Ideally, you’ll have a mix of content here that adds value across the board. This is the one place where all of your messaging and target audience should roll into one. Don’t leave anyone out. If you can swing five posts a week, do it. Otherwise, two or three should do.
Example: Segment: Decision influencers in marketing departments. Purpose: Thought leadership and brand awareness. Content: Case studies, data and observations, article commentary, news, stories about culture change, stories of branding successes, etc.
The platforms you see above are more than enough to get started, but it never hurts to at least be aware of other platforms out there. If you’re a restaurant, you’ll probably want to check out Yelp. Eventbrite and company are good to be on for larger companies that put on a lot of conferences. And don’t discount that up-and-coming platform, either. Stay aware of the space to make sure you’re not missing anything big.
Example: None for now. Address as needed.
While your overarching strategy should inform your strategy on each social media platform, it shouldn’t necessarily be the same across the board. Twitter is different than Facebook is different than the blog, and you’d be missing out if you weren’t catering to the unique audiences of each.
Developing your platform strategies and making sure all of your platforms tell different sides of the same story will make your social media presence richer, and it will also help ensure that you take full advantage of the unique opportunities presented on each platform. If you post the same things the same ways regardless of platform, your story will tire quickly and you’ll lose the attention of those you’re trying to get in front of.
Does each platform have to be 100% unique? No–absolutely not. But a little bit of distinction will go a long ways towards making sure you hit your targets and, above all, stay interesting and fresh in the minds of your target audience.