Developing a Social Media Strategy

A lot of businesses are starting to realize the importance of becoming involved in social media.  What stumps most businesses is where to start and how to develop a strategy that will work for them…As I see it, there are four stages to developing a social media strategy:

  1. Define your objectives
  2. Identify your metrics
  3. Determine your methodology
  4. Select your tools

Let’s go over each one in more detail:

Define Your Objectives

It is important to determine what you want to accomplish by becoming involved in social media.  It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed if you don’t have a plan.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Reputation management
  3. Improved search rankings
  4. Increase traffic to your website or local business
  5. Improve sales for a particular product or service

You may have other objectives than are on this list, but just be sure that you only have one objective for any given social media campaign.

Identify Your Metrics

Once you have identified your objective, you need to determine what metrics you are going to use to measure your success.  It is important for newbies to only measure about three or four metrics so that you don’t get overwhelmed with data.  The most important thing is to be sure that the metrics you decide on relate directly to your objective and are clear indicators of success.

At this stage, don’t try to be too detailed.  You can’t set the number of Facebook fans as a success metric if you haven’t determined what tools you are going to use yet!  You can always revisit your metrics and be more specific once you decide on what tools you are going to use.  The main thing is to make sure that what you plan to track makes sense for your goals.  Remember – your metrics always depend on your goals!

Determine Your Methodology

Depending on your goals, your methodology will vary.  At this stage, you want to outline how social media is going to be used to help you meet your goals.  This is where you will be creative and develop ideas for specific campaigns.  You still haven’t selected what tools you will use, but you will probably determine what types of social media you will become involved in (e.g. video blogging, podcasting, micro blogging, etc.).

Select Your Tools

Once you have outlined your social media plan, it is time to do a little research and determine what social media tools you are going to use.  You will want to look at the demographics and uses of the social media tools as well as the number of people who participate in them.  There are thousands of different niches when it comes to social media tools and you may want to make a list of tools to test out.  Take your list and try them out for several months one at a time.  Track your metrics for each one and decide which ones you want to focus on.

In case you are completely out of the loop on social media, here are some popular tools:

If you are trying to increase traffic to your local business, you may want to be sure and check out some tools like Yelp! and FourSquare.