One of the major theses we employ in our social media strategy process is this
With all the new tools and platforms constantly emerging, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking about social media through a tactical prism instead of a strategic one. The best social media strategic plans are tools-agnostic, and set forth objectives and metrics that supersede any particular social venue.
Step 1: Build an Ark
Nobody should “own” social media strategy in your organization. Social impacts all corners of the company, and should be more like air (everywhere) than like water (you have to go get it). Thus, the first step in the process is to create a cross-functional team to help conceive and operate the rest of the strategy.
Step 2: Listen and Compare
It’s an old social media strategy chestnut by now, but “listen” is still good advice that’s often ignored. The reality is that your customers (and competitors) will give you a good guide to where and how you should be active in social media, if you broaden your social listening beyond your brand name.
Step 3: What’s the Point?
Yes, you can use social media to help accomplish several business objectives. But the best social media strategies are those that focus (at least initially) on a more narrow rationale for social. What do you primarily want to use social for? Awareness? Sales? Loyalty and retention? Pick one.
Step 4: Select Success Metrics
How are you going to determine whether this is actually making a difference in your business? What key measures will you use to evaluate social media strategy effectiveness? How will you transcend (hopefully) likes and engagement? Will you measure ROI?
Step 5: Analyze Your Audiences
With whom will you be interacting in social media? What are the demographic and psychographic characteristics of your current or prospective customers? How does that impact what you can and should attempt in social media?
Step 6: What’s Your One Thing?
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you sell, your product features and benefits aren’t enough to create a passion-worthy stir. How will your organization appeal to the heart of your audience, rather than the head? Disney isn’t about movies, it’s about magic. Apple isn’t about technology, it’s about innovation. What are you about?
Step 7: How Will You Be Human?
The mechanics of social force companies to compete for attention versus your customers’ friends and family members. Thus, your company has to (at least to some degree) act like a person, not an entity. How will you do that?
Step 8: Create a Channel Plan
Only after you know why you’re active in social at all, and how you’ll measure social media strategy success should you turn your attention to the “how” of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the rest. This channel plan should be distinct, in that you have a specific, defensible reason for participating in each (I covered this more in-depth in my post on 3 Rock Solid Questions to Guide Your 2013 Social Media Success).
When we’re working on social media strategy for major companies, the plan and the deliverable is quite a bit more comprehensive than what you see above, but it’s based on this scaffolding and thought process. I hope you’ll find it useful in your own endeavors.