I’ve written many list articles on how to create a Social Media Strategy, but never before have I publicly shared my framework.
This article is a condensed version of my framework, which I use when teaching or actually developing a Social Media Strategy for my customers.
It is comprehensive, yet practical, and is broken into 7 distinct actionable components.
Even though the content may seem overwhelming, you should persist. It doesn’t matter if you are a large or small company, this framework is a good implementation guideline for your Social Media Strategy. Just keep what works for you, and toss what doesn’t.
Let’s begin…and learn about the components required on how to create a social media strategy.
Action 1: Round Up The Social Media Team
Do not pass go, and definitely do not collect $200, until full acceptance and endorsement for a Social Media Strategy initiative is given by the highest levels in your company.
Without senior level buy-in, your Social Media program becomes a side project, will not be taken seriously, and will be a waste of time and money.
Seriously! To emphasize this point…
Neither the size of your company matters, nor its vertical industry, nor its function. What matters most is that there is a 100% commitment from the senior people within your company.
You also need someone in your company to own the this project.
This is a project that’s going to have an impact on your top and bottom line. It’s therefore sensible to designate an individual, who can act as the internal liaison, decision maker, and be accountable for its success.
It is equally as important to understand that your Social Media initiative should not be owned by any single department. Historically, these type of projects fell under the Marketing umbrella. Social Media now crosses horizontally, through most company divisions, and is visible at all customer touch points – Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Support, etc.
Make your Social Media Strategy a Company initiative – not a departmental initiative.
Action 2: Define That Market
You need to know where you’re going and who’s going to help you get there.
Understanding how to create a social media strategy is mostly about understanding your market.
If you’ve been in business for awhile, you should already know your business objectives, goals, and target market. However, if you don’t, make sure you do. Defining your USP is a good starting point.
Creating a Social Media Strategy dictates a clear vision of your business, especially an understanding of what you are trying to achieve and who you are trying to help.
As a sanity check, articulate your business goals, objectives and your target market to a trusted individual. Unpack your explanations, by drilling deeper into the “Why you service” and “The benefit to your customers”.
Get to know your goals, objectives and target market. They will serve you extremely well.
Action 3: Audit Home Base + More
A thorough audit of your current website/blog and Social Media environment will tell you the exact starting position for launching your Social Media Strategy initiative.
There’s no sense in restarting work that’s already been done.
You may need to deconstruct what you find, before building it back up, but its’s important to establish what has already been done.
Imagine, for example, 3 of your Social Media platforms are set up perfectly. Why would you want redo something that is functioning perfectly?
On the flip side, imagine finding 3 of your Social Media platforms without links back to your website. Or imagine each of these Social Media platforms have different colors and logos.
These nuances give you a starting point for your Social Media Strategy initiative.
Audit and review at least the following:
- Website/Blog platform. Your website/blog platform is what I deem to be your “Home Base”. You own it, the contents, and the methods that help guide towards your intended actions. More than likely, you will be driving your audience from your Social Media platforms (and other sites) to your Home Base. Your Home Base must support your business objective.
Keep in mind that your audiences gives you less than 5 seconds when they land on your website. Yes, I know we now have very short attention spans, me included 🙂 In those 5 seconds your audiences needs to determine a) That you understand their issue b) That you understand the solution and, c) What action they need to perform on your site.
Put yourself in your audiences shoes. Audit your website from their perspective.
Do you think your website and blog accomplishes your business objective?
Be fully objective.
Is your site a good experience for your audience? Are they interpreting your site message correctly? Are you satisfying your audiences needs?
How is your audience getting to your website? Are your blog posts ranking well in the search engine results? Is your website technically sound?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself when auditing your Home Base.
- Social Media Platforms. Your Social Media platforms is where you meet and greet your audience. It’s your front door, where only those who are dressed appropriately are invited into your home. I’m sure a few gate crashers will slip through the back door too. 🙂
Do your Social Media platforms support your business objective? How is your audience flowing between your Social Media platforms and your Home Base? What do your statistics tell you about your current audience? How are you engaging your audience? Do they understand what you are about and how you can help them?
How often are you sharing information? How often are they sharing your information? Are you automating your Social Media feeds?
How is your competitors using Social Media?
The bottom line is that you need to understand what needs to be done to your Social Media platforms so they can help support your business objective?
- Obviously, if you do not yet have a website or Social Media platforms, your starting point will be the starting gate.
Action 4: Define Social Platform Objectives
It’s very easy to send yourself down a Social Media black hole, only to emerge hours later, with nothing accomplished.
Defining your platform specific Social Media objectives helps guide and focus you towards your objective.
No two Social Media platforms are created equal. Depending on your industry and objective, you can, for example, accomplish your objective better on one platform than another.
For example, your business partners may hang out on Twitter, and Twitter therefore becomes your Social Media platform of choice to locate them. Alternatively, you may want to use Twitter to reach out and find customers for your new restaurant.
Facebook, for example, may be used as an ideal platform to run targeted Social Media campaigns. Or perhaps, Facebook serves no purpose for your business at all.
What ever the rationale for the Social Media platform selection, you need to state it clearly, and understand that your strategy for the various
Social Media platforms will dictate the tactics you use on each of those platforms.
Action 5: Understand + Close The Gap
We’re almost there. Just a few more minutes more and you’ll know fully, how to create a social media strategy.
Now’s the time to move closer to the details of your Social Media plan – away from the big picture.
You’ve probably heard the saying “the devil is in the details”, meaning, in this case, that the interesting pieces are going reveal themselves when you piece together a detailed Social Media plan.
It takes a lot of persistent energy to get to this point, but once you develop the finer details of your plan, you will be in an excellent position to bring your plan to life.
The following items should give you an indication of the details you will require:
- Social Media Platform Details: Define exactly what you need to do on each Social Media platform (e.g. number of Tweets, how to engage, who to engage with, where to listen, how to promote, what content on which platform to publish, policies that manage your social activity, employee advocacy, etc.).
Refer back to your Social Media platform objectives where necessary.
- Social Media Budget: Your budget will give you a good idea about the cost of your Social Media initiative. If, for example, you need to revamp your website to account for a new strategy, then include that amount in your budget. If you need to change the graphics and messaging on each of your Social Media platforms, then your budget needs to reflect those items. If you intend to selectively automate your Social Media platforms, which I highly recommend, then you should account for those costs too. If you need to hire a Social Media Manager to produce content and mange Social interactions, then include those amounts.
Flush out all costs, and add a contingency amount, to cover those unexpected costs.
- Success Metrics: Know exactly what metrics constitutes to firstly, the implementation of a successful Social Media Strategy (e.g. software service implementation, employee training, etc.) and secondly the metrics that provide you information about the ongoing success of your Social Media activity (e.g. click throughs, increased engagement, social sales, increased followers, etc.).
You may also want to consider measuring your Social Return on Investment. You can do so by using 3rd party software, such as Adobe Social, which has the ability to track Social results from engagements through to the actual sale.
- Social Media Policies: Policies will help guide your “Social Media Team” during live real time Social Media events. Develop policies for items such as: a) Content, platforms, and frequency to publish; b) How and when to engage; c) How to listen for opportunities or issues; c) Engagements to escalate, and to whom, etc.
- Project Plan: I come from a Project Management background, and fiercely believe that every project needs a project plan. I won’t go into the rationale, but for a project for an important initiative, like this, it would be wise to develop a cohesive, and well thought out plan. A well thought out plan would at least contain, implementation tasks, associated milestones, deliverables, date & timelines, and those responsible for each task. The project plan will help you keep you sanity. 🙂
- Social Tools: Social Media Tools will help you implement your strategy, and are part of your tactical toolbox. Consider and test tools that provide scheduling, campaign management, automation, social success measurement, etc.
Action 6: Train + Implement
The fun beings! Just like an artist painting their canvas, this is where your concept becomes a living and breathing entity:
- All those involved in the initiative should be trained (i.e. tools, policies, advocacy, etc.)
- Implementation begins. Just follow your Project Plan and adjust accordingly
Some big ticket to-do items on your plan:
- Employee education
- Baseline Metrics: Analytics is your windows to your audiences behavior, and a way to measure your success. You will be measuring data such as click throughs to your website, followers, shares, sales, etc. Make sure you get a starting snapshot of your analytics so you can measure your forward success.
- Messaging on Social Platforms: You will need to make sure your messaging is congruent on all Social Media platforms. This will eliminate confusion with your audience, no matter which Social platform of yours that they visit. Colors, logos and messaging need to be the same or similar on all platforms.
- Initial Social Media Content Plan + Calender: You need to piece together a content plan for each of the Social platforms. Content may originate form blog posts, website content and 3rd party sites. Develop your calender and know the frequency of updates on all social platforms.
- Initial Social Media Campaign Plan + Calender: At some point you are going to be running campaigns which will be targeted towards specific people, with a specific goal in mind. It’s a good idea to map out your initial campaign at this point, taking into account the objective, content, and the time frame.
- Develop Social Media Content: Develop the initial content for each of your platforms, using your content plan.
- Tool deployment: Install, integrate and start rolling out your Social Media Service tools. These are the tools that your Social Media Team will be using.
- Selectively Automate Social Media Platforms: Many of the social platforms allow you to automate your posting. You need to selectively automate the posts on these platforms., which will save large amounts of time so you and your staff can focus on other important business related tasks (e.g. meeting people offline, telephone calls, closing deals, etc.)
- Develop Initial Campaign: Now that you are full steam ahead on posting and engaging on social media, it’s time to prepare the content for at least your 1st social media campaign. Prepare the content, with a calendar. Schedule and publish as planned.
Action 7: Maintain It
Social Media publishing and engagement is not a one time event.
It is dynamic. The tools change. Your audience changes. Content wants and needs change.
As these elements change, you need to adjust so you can reach your business objective.
Evaluate your all aspects of your Social Media structure on an ongoing basis. Make adjustments as necessary.
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it – now you know how to create a social media strategy with this compressed version of the framework, which I use to implement Social Media Strategy initiatives. Parts of the framework may seem daunting, but I believe, if used as a guideline you will have a greater chance of success than those who have no plan at all.
Plan first, get all your ducks in order, understand the why and the what, and then when you are ready it’s just a matter of execution.
One last thing…
Obviously, the uniqueness of your company will dictate the actions you take for how you develop a Social Media Strategy. Keep what works and discard what does not.
Want to take it to the next level? Here’s more about the methods our clients use to plan their digital marketing initiatives.