July 22, 2013

How to Develop Your Social Media Strategy

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Up until about 2008, we marketing and communications professionals busied ourselves coming up with content to fill our employee or customer newsletters, annual reports and email campaigns. We had an audience in mind. A clear message. A purpose to our deliverables.

Then these crazy new online outlets called social media sites started popping up, and we all lost our collective sense of strategy — our why-are-we-doing-this radars. We’d throw something out there on Facebook or Twitter and see what stuck. Many are still using this approach.

Don’t believe us? How often are you hearing things like these within your marketing department?

  • “Joe just wrote a press release, let’s post it on Facebook."
  • “Roger just got promoted. Let’s share that in social media along with his headshot.”
  • “Barbara just won the Employee of the Month award. We need to post a photo of the president handing her the certificate.”
  • “Our company’s leadership decided to tweak our strategic plan. That needs to be on Facebook.”

If this is your approach, we have two words for you: Stop. It.

This is not a social media strategy; it's what we call “churn.” You’re spinning your wheels with no clear direction and probably not getting much interaction in the channels you’re using.

How can you fix this? Here are five steps to get you thinking about your social media efforts within the larger context of your company’s strategic plans.

1. Consider the big picture.

Review your company’s strategic vision, 10-year-plan or any other documents that outline where the company is heading. If you’re doing internal communications correctly, every employee should be aware of the company’s vision and objectives. If not, they should at least have easy access to documents like these on your company’s intranet site or some other easily accessible location.

Why start here? Because if your efforts in _______ (fill in the blank: social media, content marketing, widget-making, etc.) aren’t supporting your company’s vision or direction, then what is the point? What value are you providing to your company if you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall?

2. Take stock.

Evaluate all the content your department is currently producing. Consider:

  • Marketing collateral
  • Ad campaigns
  • Email marketing
  • CRM (customer relationship management) campaigns
  • Employee communications pieces
  • Press releases
  • Media alerts
  • Sponsorship agreements

Each item in this content universe should support your company’s business objectives. If they’re not, rethink why you’re producing them.

Assuming these pieces are supporting the company’s overall mission, then start considering how you can repurpose the content in social media.

For instance, let’s say a group of employees just volunteered in a community-improvement project on behalf of your company. These types of “giving back” efforts are part of your company’s corporate responsibility plans. A communications specialist on the employee communications team wrote an article about it for the company newsletter.

But don't stop there.

As the writer interviews the group of employees, he should get their permission to post the story on Facebook. He should also get a photo of the employees volunteering and tag them when he posts it.

Because you’ve tagged the employees in the Facebook post, the content, including the photo, will show up on each of their friends’ newsfeeds. Those friends get a glimpse of how great your company is by allowing employees to volunteer to help the community.

3. Gather your content.

Cull as many “stories” as you can from content that already exits, and work with others in your department to determine how to re-write the content as a concise Facebook post. Be sure to think about whom you could tag in any related photos, including employees, customers and other organizations you may be partnering with. Be sure to get their permission first.

4. Create a plan.

Plug these stories into an editorial calendar and post them when they’re most relevant.

5. Evaluate.

Review all your posts and closely monitor how many people like, comment or retweet your posts. If you notice any patterns, capitalize on those and try to make future posts fit that pattern.

Are you comparing your posts to your company’s strategic plans? How’s it working for you? Let us know in the comments section.

 

Mario Medina

Mario is the Creative Director of madison/miles media. He has a wife, two kids, a dog, a fish (but it might be dead — hard to tell) and an unhealthy obsession with Batman.