Top 10 Things to Consider When Creating Your Social Media Strategy

June 16, 2014


As a social media marketer, I often get asked, “how do you think about social media strategy?”

Whether you are creating a social media strategy from scratch, or tweaking your strategy to increase engagement and effectiveness, there is certainly much to ponder.

To help you simplify the process, and to ensure you're not omitting any essentials, here is an easy checklist of the top 10 questions to answer before signing off on your next social media strategy.

Consideration #1: Why?

Social media can help you meet several business goals, but the most effective social media strategies focus on a singular goal, especially at the outset. What, specifically, do you want social to do for your brand? Is it to increase your brand’s favorability? Drive conversions? Increase your company’s online presence i.e. make your company more “findable?” Always start with a goal in mind.

Consideration #2: Who?

Social affects your entire company, which is why a single person should not be responsible for the entire social media strategy. You can't play a game with just a quarterback. Creating a cross-functional team makes it easier to show the best your company has to offer on social channels. Determine who should be on that team, and who should remain on the sidelines for support. The key in social is creating an agile team that can move fast and keep up with the pace of play, or in this case conversation.

Consideration #3: Why does our audience use social?

Your approach to social should always start with your audience. As you build your social media strategy, determine what your audience hopes to accomplish when they spend time in social channels. Listen to their wants and needs. Are they using social to connect with others and share memories, or are they using it to consume information that helps them succeed in their jobs? Where do their goals intersect with yours? This is your social sweet spot.

Consideration #4: Which channels?

If resources weren’t an issue, your social media strategy would be to establish a strong presence on every semi-relevant channel. But we know resources are often an issue, for every company, so it certainly pays to prioritize.

Start by determining your highest priority social channel – the channel that offers the best opportunity to connect with your audience and contribute to your overarching goals. Then, determine the portion of your available resources required to dominate this channel. Continue down your channel priority list, stopping when activity on the channel will require you to pull resources away from your most effective channel(s).

Consideration #5: Who are our channel idols?

For each channel you choose to engage in, take an in-depth look at similar companies that you admire for their social strength. Learn from the tactics they use to add followers, engage those followers and inspire action among them. Your idols have done much of the trial and error for you; reduce your own trial and error by learning from them.

Consideration #6: Who are we?

Now that you know who you aspire to be like in terms of effectiveness, it’s time to establish your own social brand guidelines and social media personality. Creating social brand guidelines in writing helps the cross-functional team stay true to your company’s voice.

Just like you'd describe a person, choose three words to describe your brand. What do you want to stand for? Now think about the voice in which you will speak to others. Is it casual, professional, witty, direct? Delta has a very different voice than Dell, yet both have found interesting ways to connect with their audiences. Creating a consistent voice and tone for your brand is important to building strong relationships.

Consideration #7: How will we show our human side?

As Jay Baer says, “Social media is about people, not logos.” We cannot forget that people use social media to connect with other people. So, to maintain an effective social media strategy, your company needs to act like a human.

As part of your social media strategy, create a plan to showcase the human side of your company -- whether it’s through the employees who interact on social channels or through the insider, "behind-the-scenes" glimpses you allow your audience to experience through content published on your pages. Instead of pushing out purely promotional messaging, think about how to pull people into your brand by being just as interesting as any human being would.

Consideration #8: How will we measure success?

You’ll want to know whether your social media strategy is making a contribution, right? Be sure to determine the metrics that best correlate with the objectives of your social media strategy. Think back to your answer to the "why" -- if you were setting out to use social to drive conversions, make sure you are tracking conversions. If you're aim is to drive awareness, make sure you are measuring reach and engagement.

Consideration #9: How will we optimize our social media strategy?

Regardless of how solid your social strategy is, it can and should improve over time. You should constantly be thinking about how to integrate social with your evolving marketing efforts. Choose an optimization plan that jives with your workflow and make social media evaluation, and the ensuing actions, immovable calendar items.

Consideration #10: What’s our shtick?

What’s the one thing you will do differently that will help your company become a recognizable, relevant fixture in the landscape of each social channel you participate in? It's a fun question to ponder. And it may too evolve over time, but having a North Star to guide you will help you make sense of your efforts and differentiate yourself against the competition.

How sound is your social media strategy? If LinkedIn is part of your social media strategy overhaul, hit the ground running with The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.