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5 steps for developing a social media strategy

27311620 - step by step to the topThe rapid growth of social media over the last decade has seen organisations having to respond and react quickly, ensuring that they have a presence on this constantly evolving channel. This quick adoption of social media has often led to organisation’s ‘doing’ social media because they feel they have to, rather than ensuring it has a purpose and delivers impact.

A common risk is that organisations are wasting valuable time and effort in delivering social media but not contributing to driving the business forward.

Marketing Managers are often quizzed by the Senior Management Team (SMT) to demonstrate the ROI of social media, and despite social media being able to provide a wealth of data, many struggle to answer the SMTs questions. But how can we measure impact if we don’t know what we are hoping our social media will achieve in the first place?

To resolve this, it’s important to take a strategic approach with your social media, take a look at our five steps for developing a social media strategy.

Five steps for developing a social media strategy

Step 1. What do you want your social media to achieve?

The fundamental question all organisations need to ask is what do you want your social media to achieve? There are many ways social media can help to drive business forward, including: stakeholder satisfaction, customer service, information dissemination, research and development, changing perceptions, raising awareness and much more. It is important to look at the business plan in order to shape your social media objectives, linking this through to your marketing strategy and then down into the channel specific strategy, in this case, social media.

Example:

Business Objective – Grow market share

Marketing Objective – Raise brand awareness

Social Media Objective – Increase social media reach

Step 2. Know your audience

Since the dawn of time, marketing has been about putting the customer at the heart of everything that we do, as outlined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition below:

“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying the customer requirements profitably.”

This is more important now than ever before given that social media provides a two-way channel for customers to shape and influence conversations and other customers.

In order to satisfy their needs appropriately we need to ensure we know everything about them:

  • How old are they?
  • Male or female?
  • Who influences them?
  • What are they interested in?
  • Who currently has their attention?

When we have developed a clear understanding of our target audience, we are then able to identify the appropriate channels and messages to reach them.

Step 3. Putting a plan in place

We have identified the purpose and the audience, the next step is to put a plan in place.

  • People – Identify the people within your organisation who will be delivering your social media. Ensure they are appropriately trained; feel supported and confident in delivering social media. Encourage their input into the social media strategy, as this will enable them to take ownership and pride.
  • Process – Identify and map out the teams who are going to be responsible for delivering the social media. Identify the process for new members of staff, do they need to be validated for a certain period of time before they are let loose on the organisation’s social media channels? Develop a process for escalating inbound customer enquiries: who responds to these? At what point do you need to escalate it? Who has the final sign off? What is the process in a crisis?
  • Platforms – The platforms can only be identified once you’ve confirmed your target audience. More often than not, organisations are desperate for an Instagram account (because they feel everyone else has one). However 85% of Instagram followers are below 24, and unless this is your target audience, it isn’t the right platform for your organisation. The platforms you use need to reflect your objectives and also the audience you are trying to reach.

Step 4. ‘Right message, right time, right people’

Device preferences throughout the dayChoosing the channel to reach your audience is important; it might include brand ambassadors, video advertising, news pieces, or great visuals. The more targeted you are with your audience the easier it is going to be to deliver your message. It is also important to take into consideration the time of day your audience will be accessing social media, if you are posting content at Midday but your audience is checking social media after 10pm before they go to bed, your messages will be lost.

This means that it is key to research the habits and behaviours of your audience. However, I’m afraid there is no ‘holy grail’ for this step. It will take time and testing to identify the winning tactics for engaging your audience.

Step 5. Evaluate

Although this is step 5 it is by no means the final step in the process. Evaluation needs to take place on a constant basis. Daily evaluation needs to take into account content performance; does your post answer the ‘So what’ question? Is your social media content likeable, shareable and relevant to your audience? If content isn’t engaging should we repeat the post or rephrase it? Longer-term evaluation is also important in demonstrating impact; we need to be able to monitor progress over time via a clearly defined set of metrics, which reflect our objectives.

For example, if your business objective is to grow market share, the marketing objective is to raise brand awareness, then the social media objective is to increase reach. The metric would be to measure social media reach each month to see if this is being increased and that your efforts are paying off.

We hope you find these five steps a useful starting point for your social media strategy but if you would like guidance with developing your social media strategy further please get in touch for a FREE initial consultation with our in-house social media consultants.

CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform supporting organisations with delivering award-winning social media.

Kate Allum

Marketing Manager, CrowdControlHQ

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Lewis Jones