So, how do you get the focus right when you’re responsible for writing a business’s social media strategy?

Image coutesy of: Startpo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50903281

Having helped to write a social media strategy and  from looking at a few ideas here, and here, there seem to be a series of questions to ask:

How much are you willing to invest? Yes, social media is, in the main, ostensibly free or very low cost, but what it does take (certainly to do it well) is lots of time: time to create content, time to reply to followers, time to see what similar companies are doing.  Also, don’t rely on one person to ‘do’ social media strategy and implementation – if you have five, fifteen, or five hundred people involved in your business, have a percentage actively responsible for social media output and monitoring

What are you looking to achieve – do you ‘just’ want more and more followers? If so, why – are you looking to get feedback, sales, or something else?  If you want feedback, you need to find ways to engage your customers and get them interacting with you about your product or service

Which audience are you targeting? Are you looking at a particular age group, particular demographic or a niche audience? Once you’ve established that, which platforms will give you the best chance of connecting with this audience?

What content will work best? How formal or informal is right? Does it really matter? What should you never, ever do? As a rule, pictures are essential, as is (at least a %) unique content.  Depending on your business, and your audience, try to strike a tone which encourages conversation, without becoming so informal that you lose all credibility.  And, really, contentious issues are probably best left alone.

How do you know when you get it right, or, more importantly, when it’s going wrong? Can you use analytics? How often should you review how your strategy is working?

A couple of real-life examples:

The challenge of establishing dialogue:

Perhaps the single most difficult thing with social media strategy as soon as you get beyond ‘friends and friends of friends’ is how to make it personal: how do you encourage true two-way dialogue? Burts Bees (a UK based company making toiletries and gifts out of bee related products) have waged an immensely successful social media strategy, practically making customer engagement an art form – imagine being able to wish the bees that go to make up Burt’s bees products a Happy Birthday…well, via Facebook and Twitter you could wish them many happy returns which were then read to them by one of the company founders – customer to bee, you can’t get more connected!

When social media strategies go terribly wrong:

Ragu decided, as part of its social media strategy, that it would be a great idea to insult the cookery skills of dads, by producing a video stating dads can’t cook (the original video has been taken down, but see here for an explanation of what happened, together with some of the negative comments the company received).  This was a great way to thoroughly irritate the majority of the Ragu market (both men and women) and, just to make it worse, the company didn’t apologise (if it goes horribly wrong, apologise, sincerely and quickly).

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