Was 2012 a “wing-it” year for social media in your business?


If so, you may want to consider creating a focused social media strategy for 2013. If not, this information may be helpful in tweaking an existing social media strategy.

Too many companies have “launched” their social media campaigns with little to no thought on formulating a solid plan or establishing goals they would like social media to help them achieve.

Having a well thought out social media strategy in place from the start will be critical to the success of your social media presence.

Set your goals and how you will go about measuring

ROI should be looked at as an equation. The “R” (return) is what you are expecting to receive for the money or time investment made. Determining what goals you are looking to achieve from having a social media presence is a great place to start.

Some examples:

  • Increase fans / following
  • Brand awareness
  • Increase website traffic
  • Increase sales inquiries

Think about wider possibilities than just increasing your fan base, such as reaching a new customer base or demographic for your business. Think of goals that help the company as a whole.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it so establishing a robust plan to measure your social media strategy is key to the success.

Know your customer (and who you want to have for a customer)

Understanding who your customers are is central to developing a great social media strategy.

Consider surveying your customers to find out specifically what websites they visit, which social networks do they belong and contribute to and what media sources do they like? Who do they like to “hang” out with, what their interests are, what brands do they interact with, and any other questions that relate to your product or service.

Gathering insights from your customers and potential customers will help you understand online habits resulting in your ability to create a more targeted social media campaign.

Look at your competitors social media strategy

What is your competition is doing on their social networks? What do their campaigns look like and how are they engaging with their customers online? How has your competition set up profiles on their social network sites? What can you learn from them and what can you do better?

Carefully select your social networks

Using what you’ve learned so far should help you decide which channels you should participate in. If your research shows your customers or prospects are hanging out and engaging on Facebook and Twitter, then that’s where you need to be.

Keep an eye on social media trends and investigate whether newer platforms such as Google+ and Pinterest would be of benefit to your business. If your target markets hang out on these platforms then go ahead and launch a targeted campaign that drives engagement for your brand.

Establish an engagement plan

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their social media strategy is failure in engaging with the audience. I always say if you are going to be there, you have to be engaged. If you can’t or don’t want to be engaged with your audience, then don’t be out there. period.

Decide who will respond and have a policy in place that drives that. Think outside the box. Your best resources for interacting with customers may not be the same people who administer your social media strategy.

Make sure you have a social media policy

The “policy” should incorporate both internal and external resources. Make sure your employees understand what they can and cannot say about your company – not just the administrators who have control over the pitch messages but employees who may have something to say and tag your company in their posts. There is a fine line between an employee having the right to speak freely on their own personal profiles and having your companies reputation damaged as a result.

The social media policy should be used to help stop these kinds of issues and ensure your employees talk about your company in a clear, useful, honest and consistent way, matching the policies and strategy of the organization.

Employees who contribute or create content on social media sites, websites, blogs, forums or any other platform which can be shared publicly via the Internet should be trained. There are a large number of articles on the Web about social media policy.

Finally, a policy should be put in place that gives your audience a set of rules to live by as it relates to what they are saying about your company on the social networks as well. Make it clear to them that you reserve the right to delete their comments if they contain vulgar language, threaten you or your employees or your business. Make it clear to them that they can express their experience with your brand (and you actually encourage it) but to do so in a professional manner as possible.

Should you find it necessary to remove comments, you can refer to your social media policy to support your decision.