Marketing Monday: Start with a strategy to make most effective use of social media

Last summer, I wrote a series of guest blog posts for Stirring Up Success, a B2B blog run by Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients and products and distributor to the bakery industry. According to a case study by Crossroads, StirringUpSuccess.com has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.

Here’s my first post in the series, encouraging bakeries to take the time to define their business goals to help them be more effective on social media.

We have a shelf full of cookbooks, which help us figure out a plan when we cook.

We have a shelf full of cookbooks, which help us figure out a plan when we cook.

Using social media without a strategy is a bit like turning on the oven without knowing whether you’re reheating last night’s leftovers or baking an elaborate wedding cake.

Just as understanding how to use a measuring cup and mixer are essential to baking, comfort with social media tools can make it easier to implement a plan. But there’s a difference between randomly throwing some ingredients together and following a formula – you need a strategy.

Five questions to help you get strategic about social media:

  1. What are your company’s goals? Do you want more sales, bigger sales, new customers, more orders from existing customers, different kinds of customers? Be as specific as possible, so you can measure your progress.
  2. What’s your status quo?  Inventory your existing communications, including newsletters, social media and brochures. Even in a small organization, this is worthwhile so everyone is conscious of what you have and so you don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Who is your audience?  Describe who you want to reach, what they want and how they like to communicate. Are you trying to stay in touch with existing customers so they will tell their friends about you or find potential new customers? The way you talk to moms planning birthday parties in the Midwest is very different from corporate event planners in Los Angeles.
  4. What is your competition doing with social media? You don’t need to copy what they’re doing, but you should be aware. It’s also a cheap way to keep an eye on them.
  5. What resources do you have? Be realistic. If you have a small staff with no communications budget, you need to be selective about what you take on. Consider your talents and interests as well. For example,would you rather write or take pictures?

Answering these questions doesn’t mean you have a social media strategy, but it should get the conversation started.

One final thought: don’t limit yourself by only thinking about pushing out information. Social media is a two-way conversation. It can be an excellent way to ask questions, listen to what people are saying about you and your competition and to respond to customer concerns.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

Related resources:

Learn the steps to making a red velvet cake with Sara Moulton and Cakeman Raven:

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Categories: career

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  1. Marketing Monday: Building your social media strategy, part II | Newvine Growing -- exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally
  2. Marketing Monday: The difference between knowing the tools and knowing what to say | Newvine Growing
  3. Social Media Excellence | NAFDMA | North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association

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