The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 23, 2012 • Issue 12:04:02
Seven essential steps for creating a successful social media strategy
Editor's Note: This article was first published in the March 30, 2012, issue of Merchant Service Times. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved; © Marc Beauchamp.
According to a recent Social Media Marketing Report, an estimated 67 percent of marketers have actively increased and strengthened their social media channels.
As more and more companies work on integrating social media into their corporate marketing and communication plans, there is a growing emphasis on creating a winning social media strategy. Without any semblance of a plan or strategy, your presence might as well be nonexistent or muted.
But how do you exactly develop a strategy to best cater to the unique behavior and characteristics of your niche? Here is a seven-step guide to make sure you hit the ground running on your social media campaign:
First, an important prerequisite
If you are working for a big company or organization, before you start formulating your social media strategy, it is absolutely critical for the stakeholders of the business to believe in the potential of social media and that the primary goal is not just to simply sell products and services.
Your company should not launch a social media campaign to join the bandwagon and in response to the fact that everyone else is doing it. Social media is not a temporary marketing gimmick or project with an expiration date, but rather a long-term commitment with invaluable benefits. It is important for organizations to recognize that constant testing and experimentation are required every so often to study the effectiveness.
Next, the actions
Now that we have that covered, here are the seven critically important steps to guide you through developing your very own social media strategy:
1. Define your goals and objectives: Determine your specific social media objectives and goals and how they complement and support the overall goals of the company.
2. Research, research and more research: Don't make the mistake of simply jumping in with a sea of competition and discerning consumers without having any clue. Research is very important as the basis for execution. This will include the action plan for the five major social media platforms. Take time to check out what's out there, scope the competition and understand your target audience.
3. Prepare a database of contacts and content: If you go about your social media campaign correctly, social relationships will start to develop naturally. Start establishing connections by following conversations relevant to your branding. Make a list that will identify the key influencers and power users that play important roles in your industry.
4. Join conversations to start developing and forging relationships: Start answering questions relevant to your industry, give your opinion and join a community. This will not only help you start your network, it will also help you build your reputation as an industry expert and a thought leader.
5. Strengthen your social media relationships: Don't just hide behind an avatar or brand, make your presence known by attending events that encourage face-to-face interactions. This includes offline events that are relevant to your industry.
6. Take time to measure results: You have already established your goals and objectives, right? It is equally important to measure your success. Among the most common goals include:
- Enhance brand presence across social media platforms
- Increase traffic to company website
- Increase positive consumer sentiment and perception towards brand
- Develop relationships for potential partnership opportunities in the future
7. Analyze, adjust and improve: Once you have measured your success and progress toward your goal, you need to analyze and identify key areas that need improvement, adapt to changing trends, and improve your overall social media campaign. Remember, it is not always a straight road ahead, so you need to constantly evaluate and adjust.
Marc Beauchamp is a consultant and trainer for the financial services industry. He is author of How to Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry, founder of the Bankcard Boot Camp, and offers a free monthly newsletter at his site, www.surviveandthrive.biz. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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