Not long ago I had a hands-on social media training session with some of my favorite clients. We covered how to send an @reply and a direct message on Twitter, how to link to other businesses and people in a Facebook status update and how to use HootSuite and Facebook to schedule posts in advance. We even got them started on Instagram, which they linked up to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to share photos.
It was the easiest part of a project I did with them to craft a social media strategy.
Each social media platform has its own lingo to learn, and it can be a little intimidating when you’re new.
But I think any effective social media strategy doesn’t start with tips and tricks, it starts with goals. Goals should be the foundation, then the actions you’re taking toward those goals, and finally how you’re going to communicate those goals.
1. Goals — What do you want your business to accomplish? Do you want new customers or repeat business from existing customers? Do you want a specific kind of business, like weekday morning traffic or automatically renewing orders?
2. Action — What are you doing to reach those goals? If you want to bring in new customers, are you offering a new customer orientation or a discount on first-time purchases? If you’re trying to encourage repeat orders, are you offering something exclusive or interesting to lapsed customers to get them to come back ?
3. Communication — Once you’ve decided what your goals are and what you’re doing, then you can decide how to communicate your actions. If you’re offering something special for your best customers to encourage repeat business, sending an email to your list might be the best way, but if you’re trying to find new customers, maybe you want to announce it on Twitter.
Thinking through these steps in this order can help you figure out what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to and where. Choose your platform based on who you’re trying to reach and share a message with a clear call to action around what you’re offering.
It can also help you figure out what not to do.
For instance, a friend of mine who’s a consultant recently had the a-ha moment that her best clients are busy, successful executives and they largely don’t use social media. So she’s still there but more to consume information than to promote her services. Why should she try to sell her services in a place where her target audience isn’t listening?
I hear a lot of people leaping straight to “I want 1,000 followers on Twitter” or “let’s run a contest on Facebook,” but it’s unclear to me if they just want activity or numbers or if they know specifically who they want to attract and why. Would you rather send your email newsletter to a huge number of people who don’t care or a small number of people who reliably buy?
I’m happy to teach you some specifics of how to use social media platforms — like moving a photo around on Facebook so the best part of it shows in preview. But don’t confuse the how tos with the whys.
Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a 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.
- How to Use HootSuite for Social Media Monitoring (performancing.com)
- Social Media Fails? 7 Questions to Put You Back On Track (business2community.com)
- #HootUpCraft! (whythisbox.wordpress.com)
- Setting Social Media Goals Creates Success (business2community.com)
- Choosing Effective Twitter Calls-to-Action (business2community.com)
- Social media is changing faster than ever! (localsocialmediacoach.com)
- Taming the Social Media Tiger, HootSuite Delivers (lifehack.org)
- How to monitor social media in 10 minutes a day (slideshare.net)