Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Simplifying Social Media: Creating a Social Media Strategy

Success in business - as in life - can often be traced back to the creation of a solid and detailed plan. Social media is no different. You may feel the urge to fire up your computer, join half a dozen platforms, and begin posting away. But if you haven't determined what your goals are, how social media will fit into your overall marketing plan, or which platforms will work best for your business, then you're bound to end up disappointed and frustrated. (Especially if you're also trying to learn your away around the platforms, too!)

So how can you go about creating a (simple) Social Media Strategy?

1. Download This Free Resource

I've created the following resource specifically for this section of the "Simplifying Social Media" series. It's an organized way to note your goals and which social media platforms will help you attain those goals. In other words, just by following the series, you'll end up with a basic social media strategy!

Feel free to place the guide in a nice folder, as additional pages will be added down the road.

Social Media Strategy Guide

2. Determine Your Goals and Objectives

Before you do anything else, realize that even though social media is an instantaneous method of communication, you aren't likely to see immediate results. One, because it will just take time for you to get your strategy in place and for people to begin connecting with you. And, two, because you will likely also be on a learning curve in the process. So release any unrealistic pressures that you may be placing on yourself.

That being said, determine the why (i.e. the goals) of your social media strategy. What do you want social media to do for your business? Increase your SEO? Do you want to engage with current customers, to keep them connected to your business by posting about upcoming events, news items, and fun tidbits? Do you want to spread the word about your business' products and services, in order to attract new customers? Etc.

As you do so, consider how the why will fit into your overall marketing campaign. Social media in itself will not directly boost sales, so you need to fit it into a larger plan.

For example, if you use social media to announce an upcoming event, consider linking to a page on your website where people can order tickets online. Not only does this provide an opportunity to boost sales - especially if people share your post with their social media friends - but you've also promoted your website in general and given the search engines at least one additional link to help boost your SEO.

If you're unable to draw up a complete strategy right now, don't fret. Continue following this series, fill in your Social Media Strategy Guide, do research (see below), and before long you'll have formed a strategy.

3. Research

If you are reading this series, then you have already started this phase, as you're making a dedicated effort to learn the basics about social media. As the series continues, we'll cover specific social media platforms in depth, including what they do, how they work, and the best ways to utilize them.

In addition, if you followed the advice of an earlier post, you should be conducting your own independent research. That is, hopping onto different platforms and seeing what similar businesses are  (successfully!) doing, asking your current customers what they'd like to see, etc. (If you won't find it overwhelming, you can also check out websites such as www.socialmediaexaminer.com/getting-started/.)

The next steps after creating your strategy is to implement it and then track results - both of which we'll cover later on in the series. But for now, print and prepare your handy Social Media Strategy Guide, so that you're ready to start creating your solid social media strategy.

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