Fall in Love with Strategy

header_booksSurveys consistently show that businesses large and small are on social media. Unfortunately, they also find that few have a strategy that guides their efforts.  This is highly risky behavior that can lead to wasted resources with few results to show. It’s time that we all stop experimenting and start being strategic.

Social media strategy isn’t only applicable when an organization is launching channels, it is fundamental for success throughout the life of the effort.  Social media strategies must be instituted for organizations to thrive , even if they think they’ve been operating successfully without one.

Define a Goal

Being on social media isn’t a strategy. You must set a goal and work toward that goal. Maybe your goal is to increase awareness of a product, service, or issue. Maybe it’s to develop a following of interested people. Or, it could be to influence something.

There are many worthy goals. But you need to know what goal you are working toward. And you need to focus, because trying to achieve multiple goals will really get in the way of making any progress.

Start with Research

Look at what you have done and analyze your successes. Look at what your competitors are doing. Sometimes inspiration in right in front of us – we just need to look up from our daily tasks and take time to notice what is happening around us. Developing a strategy is a great time to look at the larger context of what you are doing and what you want to do.

A Strategy Must Be Written Down

I’ve had many conversations with companies that assert that everyone knows the strategy only to find out that each person in the room has a different idea of just what that strategy is. Worse, I have seen people reprimanded for not following strategies that are not documented. You can’t assume that everyone is on the same page if there is no reference to work from. Write a plan and make it available to everyone.

[Related: Why Earned Media Should Be Part of Your Content Strategy]

Get Down to Specifics

It’s tempting to be big and broad, because you don’t want to miss any opportunities. However, this instinct is not one to follow; if you try to speak to everyone about everything you end up speaking to no one and having no impact. Focusing on specific audiences and speaking to their needs is a significantly more effective approach.

Your plan should include the specific things you will do to create and share messages that will foster relationships and allow your content to have impact.  It will also be specific on how you will know if you are falling short or exceeding your goal.