Creating a Social Media Strategy

If your work is related to the web in any way, chances are you deal with social media everyday. If you need to actually use social media for real work instead of just seeing what’s up with your friends, having a strategy can really help you successfully leverage social media channels to support your goals at work.

I thought I would share my social media plan, and why you need one, with my professional webby buddies out there.

The Benefits of a Social Media Strategy and Inbound Marketing

Organic client relationship development (gently urged by inbound marketing) is more powerful, lasts longer and has longer reach than traditional marketing methods, such as direct mailing or TV ads. With traditional methods, it’s like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping it sticks, or worse, throwing a ball at someone who’s not looking at you or ready to catch. In either case, there is a great chance that your message will be deflected and forgotten or deleted. Inbound marketing, utilizing social media channels, relies on the client to find you and if a client is looking for you, they are most likely already receptive to your service and more likely to engage in a relationship.

If the client receives good service, having social medial channels engaged makes it very easy for them to tell their friends and spread the word about their experience to other potential clients in their social networks. This mention is powerful because it comes with the confidence of a personal recommendation.

The majority of social media channels are free and the concept of social marketing is simple:

  1. Connect yourself to your clients
  2. Allow your clients to connect with each other
  3. Encourage a community to grow around your work

Seems easy enough but nurturing your social media network takes vigilance, perseverance and needs to be supported with content that is informative, useful and relative to your clients’ needs. Deciding what social media channels to use, and how to use them, requires a strategy built around your overall marketing initiatives. Since each initiative is unique, multiple social media strategies may be required. 

Social media data from HubSpot, 2011.

Setting Goals
The first part of creating a social media strategy is to set goals. Sample goals include:

  •  Increase brand awareness
  •  Monitor online reputation
  •  Correct media mistakes
  •  Establish yourself as a trusted source of information
  •  Distribute news to a wider audience (distributing news on social media channels has more SEO impact for the brand and website than traditional methods)
  •  Drive more traffic to your website
  •  Increase reach by increasing social media followers or fans
  •  Improve client happiness via better customer service/support
  •  Increase client loyalty

Establish Which Channels Will be Utilized to Meet Which Goals

Once the goals have been set, they need to be matched to the best channel to obtain them. Depending on what the social media marketing goal is, different social media channels may be more appropriate. For example:

LinkedIn is professionally oriented and can be used for B2B goals, such as institutional investing or referral networking.

Facebook and Twitter are often utilized for B2C, such as building client networks.

HARO (help a reporter out) can help establish faculty as experts in their field. More than 29,000 reporters are members of this and reach out to experts for their articles.

Establish Which Tools/Features Will be Utilized to Enhance Social Media Channels

Once the preferred channel has been identified, the channel needs to be evaluated to see what features will best help obtain the goal. Within each social media channel, there is further customization that can be done. Facebook offers customizable tabs and applications. Facebook pages allow for unlimited “fans” and use of Facebook Page Insights for tracking. Pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and YouTube can have links back to the website and contact information displayed.

Commitment to Supporting the Strategy

Social media doesn’t work by itself (although many people think it does). Successful use of social media requires diligence on the part of the participants. In most cases, content can be used on more than one channel but daily interaction is to be expected. The level of commitment expected needs to be outlined in the strategy. Supporting a social media strategy might include:

  •  Up-to-date content on the main website
  •  Daily monitoring of social media channel activity
  •  Quick response to clients’ comments, complaints, etc.
  •  Provide worthwhile and useful content that engages readers
  •  Designate people who are social media superstars and likely to be successful users of social media. Establish an owner of the social network.
  •  Adding buttons on main website to drive readers to participate in social media channels
  •  Monitoring internal and external sources (happy clients, friends, colleagues) for content
  •  Expertise and passion about the topic the community is related to
  •  An understanding that social media is a community that goes two-way – communication with the community is essential.
  •  Share positive comments – client success stories or videos, blog posts, other Web site content, etc. Integrate with other channels.

Measuring the Success of Social Media Strategy

Finally, a metric by which the success of the social media marketing strategy will be measured needs to be established. Not all metrics are appropriate for all social media marketing campaigns. Some example of metrics include:

  •  Track mentions of projects via Google Alerts
  •  Track search engine results ranking for project specific keywords
  •  Track webpage activity in Google Analytics
  •  Evaluate reach by using Facebook Page Insights and Hootsuite for Twitter
  •  Track conversions by monitoring forms submitted or calls made
  •  Evaluate positive feedback and conversations with fans and followers
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