So it’s 2011. You’ve undoubtedly made the decision to get your company the ubiquitous Facebook page. You’ve dabbled into a Twitter account. You dared to start a Foursquare profile for your brick and mortar location. But now what? Many companies, feeling the pressure, jumped on the social media bandwagon to avoid getting run over by it. Now that the dust has settled and the free iPad they gave away has been shipped, they’re probably thinking, “Ok. Now what?” And that’s because so many companies approach social media without a strategy. Like any other marketing campaign, having a clearly defined strategy is key to ensuring longevity, connectivity to your community and overall success of a great social media presence. Here are five simple steps to make sure you’re keeping it strategic, stupid:
1. Define Your Goals – Brace yourself for this: Just because you’re the marketing person and your boss told you to do it isn’t a reason to start a Facebook page! I know, I know. It’s shocking. I’ll give you a moment to recover… All right, let’s talk through this. You have to have goals defined before you publish a Facebook page, agonize over your first 140 characters or do anything else on a social media site. Do you want to have 100,000 “likes”? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Increase foot traffic to your store? Improve customer service? Those are all great reasons to be in social media, but they have to be your company’s reasons. Your goals should be defined in terms of where you are and where you want to be – and you should give yourself a rough timeline for reaching those goals.
2. Measure Your Progress – Social media is still in its infancy. And just like the marks on the wall measuring how much your kids have grown year-to-year, you need to closely measure the progress your strategy is having. Are you meeting those goals you defined in step 1? Are you sticking to the timeline? Once you hit publish, start sharing amazing content and implementing great ideas; it’s time to make sure it’s all working. Utilize Facebook Insights to see what’s going on on the back end of your page. Sign up for a listening platform and use trackable links. When you’re defining your goals, you should define the metrics you’ll use to measure them and continue to do so along the way.
3. Listen to Your Community – You’ve sat around a boardroom table coming up with the best contests, the best content and what your higher ups think is the best social media presence possible for your brand. Then you go to launch and it’s crickets. No one is responding to your status updates or entering your contest or engaging with your brand. First, take a deep breath. Second, realize this happens. Then go back to the drawing board and come up with something else. Social media is all about trial and error, fixing what’s broken and moving fast. Listen to what your community is – or isn’t – saying, and adapt your strategy to meet their needs.
4. Re-Strategize – The plan you made in November for the following year isn’t going to be relevant for 12 months. It just isn’t. 12 months is 5 years in social media time. Facebook announces huge updates and changes to the layout and structure of pages, Twitter launches a new ad platform, Foursquare adds photos, Tumblr takes over the blogging world. You have to embrace these network evolutions and make it part of your ever-changing strategy.
5. Stick With It – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a killer social media presence. If you don’t hit 100,000 fans in three months, don’t give up. If you don’t hit 100,000 fans in six months, don’t give up. Stick with it. It’s that simple.