If you have decided that it is time that you start to utilize social media to improve your business it is vital that you design a social media strategy before you even get started. Joining the world of social media without a proper strategy in place is like jumping into choppy seas without a life jacket. You will be tossed around with every wind that blows and will find yourself routinely being moved off course.
The first step to developing your own social media strategy is to identify what your brand’s message is and then stick to it. Part of this is done by maintaining a clear concept of what you are trying to achieve through your social media efforts. Another important part of this process is clearly identifying what you want your social media voice to be and maintaining that voice throughout your messaging efforts. While initially these may seem like they are one in the same, by examining the differences it becomes clear that they are two halves of a whole. Determining the voice of your social media efforts is like developing a character in a play. Is the character of your social media efforts going to sport a witty and comical personality? Is the voice that you present to the world going to be wise and authoritative? By determining exactly what you want the personality of your social media efforts to be before you get started you can build upon this character through every tweet you make, every Facebook post you make, and even through every YouTube video you create and upload. The voice that you create to distribute your brand’s messaging is what your social media connections will react to.
Another important step in creating your social media strategy is to engage with your audience based upon their needs. You will only gain an audience for your efforts if you become aware of what they are looking for and understand why they are tuning in to your efforts. If your socialization efforts are based strictly upon serving your own purposes chances are pretty good that your followers will tune out before long when they realize that their needs are not being met. By understanding why they are loyal to you and rewarding them for that loyalty through engaging tweets, informative posts, and an overall willingness to share of yourself and your brand you make a connection with your followers that will be hard to shake. One way to break that connection though is through dishonesty in your communications with them. This is another important element in developing your own social media strategy. No one likes a faker. Especially in the world of social media, your followers can smell a faker a mile away. If you make a mistake in your efforts be up front enough to own up to the errors of your ways and if you are creative enough, turn it around and turn it into a marketing opportunity. Share a little extra, give them a humorous poll to take, or even offer a free e-book download to the first however many that react in a humorous way to your faux pas. Social media is all about building a relationship with those that you interact with; learn how to do this effectively and you are well on your way.
Another crucial element in your social media strategy needs to be the delivery of your brand messaging. This is different than your brand’s voice, but could be considered part and parcel of the overall concept. The delivery of your brand messaging has to be in line with the needs of your followers. Whether you utilize Google Trends or Twitter’s trending topics or any other of a variety of services that monitor trends, the key is to deliver your information in a relevant and timely way. There is no use giving your followers messages related to Christmas in July. If there is a hot political story trending, then use that momentum and tie it into your messaging in a clever way and take advantage of that popularity. By watching what intrigues your social media network and using those trends to your advantage you develop a reputation as being on the ball and capable of delivering timely relevant content to their needs.
Part of delivering relevant web content is to give your followers what they need. Solve a problem, provide solutions to their inquiries, and answer the questions that your readers pose in their communications with you; that is the way to build an even stronger following over time. Give them valuable information that they can use and interact with and not just fluff that does not provide any real use to them. Make it worth their while to tune into your social media efforts and they are likely to stick with you for the long haul. Developing a social media strategy is not just about getting your message out; it is about letting the message of your followers in and then reacting to it in a productive, useful, and even funny way.