Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Your organization needs a social media presence. One approach is to choose a platform such as Facebook or Twitter and start posting, but this probably won’t be very successful. To be effective, begin by creating a social media strategy. You don’t have to start from scratch. There are plenty of resources available online. Here are some of the most useful.
The blog includes tips on many social media topics, such as 6 Social Media Templates to Save You Hours of Work. Hootsuite University offers a 30-minute online course, “Creating a Social Media Strategy” (note that there is a charge to view it).
There is also a free downloadable Guide to Creating a Social Media Strategy on the blog that walks you through the basics of social media strategy development and recommends these five steps:
- Step 1. Clarify Your Business’s Social Media Goals
- Step 2. Audit Your Current Social Media Status
- Step 3. Develop Your Content Strategy
- Step 4. Use Analytics to Track Progress
- Step 5. Adjust Your Strategy as Needed
The guide is like a workbook with places to fill in your content, plus links to more online resources and examples.
At Business2Community.com, Tommy Landry, an Internet marketing consultant, offers his take on a social media strategy template. There are similarities to Hootsuite, such as auditing your current activities, but Landry adds other steps like delineating your successes and failures and mapping out your content strategy, as follows:
- Step 1. Audit Existing Activities
- Step 2. Delineate Successes and Failures
- Step 3. Determine Where Social Media Marketing Fits
- Step 4. Figure Out Your Objectives and Target Audiences
- Step 5. Map Out A Content Marketing and Curation Strategy
- Step 6. Decide What Platforms To Use
- Step 7. After Everything Else, Build Your Tactical Communication Plan
As for assembling content, many social media marketers prefer to use a curation approach. If you are unfamiliar with content curation, it is similar to how a museum curator reviews hundreds of possible exhibits, choosing the best of the best to put on display.
Social media platforms are an excellent starting point to find items for curating. You can also subscribe to the RSS feeds of popular content services via an RSS reader or by having them push the content straight to your email inbox. You can also use content curation tools such as Scoop.it, which is the platform I prefer.
Social Media Examiner
The steps included in the Social Media Examiner model are similar to Hootsuite’s in that they begin with identifying (or setting) business goals and creating a content strategy.
Like Business2Community, Social Media Examiner recommends identifying target markets. Its template includes the following:
- Identify Business Goals
- Set Marketing Objectives
- Identify Ideal Customers
- Research Competition
- Choose Channels and Tactics
- Create a Content Strategy
- Allocate Budget and Resources
- Assign Roles
The European site BusinessCulture.org takes a unique approach to social media strategy breaking it into four sub-strategies: support, operations, sales, and marketing.
- Support. Social media gives consumers a platform where they can express their views about your products and services. That means that you may receive good feedback as well as bad, whether or not you engage with social media.
- Operations. By adopting this strategy, you employ a new way to communicate with customers and potential customers. You can do this by introducing an internal social network.
- Sales. Every business is unique, but one thing that interests most business executives is how social media engagement impacts sales. Since review sites are steadily increasing, and search engines are used to aid purchasing decisions, the sales strategy is linked closely with public relations and search engine optimization.
- Marketing. Whereas a sales strategy focuses on how to sell your product or service, the social media marketing strategy goes a step further and draws attention to what the consumer thinks about your product or service.
There are many other useful social media strategy resources. Here are some notable examples.