I had lunch with some friends last week who shared with me that they often get asked to just “do some social media” for their clients.
Oh, if it were only that simple.
I think a lot of businesses think this way. They believe that simply throwing some social media icons on their website is enough or that they need to have profiles on every single social media site because “everyone else does”.
Newsflash: this is not the right way to approach it.
If you simply “do” social media without understanding the WHY behind it, your organization with fail miserably on the social web.
For small businesses that want to use social media, the number one question you should ask yourself is “what do I want to accomplish?” You have to understand the WHY before you worry about the HOW.
For instance, here are some reasons why you might consider using social media:
- Enhance customer service.
- Monitor and respond to comments about your business, product or service.
- Research what your competitors are doing and how you can do it better.
- Build relationships with your clients, vendors and prospects.
- Listen for trends, feedback and potential business opportunities.
- Raise awareness about your brand.
- Communicate to your stakeholders during a crisis.
- Drive traffic to your website or blog.
As you can see from this list, there are a lot of ways you can use social media. That’s why it’s incredibly important to determine your strategy before you get started.
Without a social media strategy, it’s like getting in your car and driving without knowing the destination. While that sounds carefree and fun, it’s not going to help you get the results you’re after for your business.
Before you dive into social media, you should ask yourself these questions:
- What are my business goals?
- Will social media help me attain those goals?
- Who am I trying to reach?
- Does my target audience use social media? If so, which tools do they use most?
- What do I want to accomplish through these tools (see list above)?
- What’s my message?
- Do I have the time and budget to use social media?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a clearer sense of what you want to get out of social media. From there, you can begin focusing on the the tools and the tactics.
What’s your biggest hangup in creating a social media strategy? Let me know where you’re stuck and I’ll help you think through it.
18 replies on “Do you have a strategy or are you simply “doing” social media?”
Good questions to ask, Laura–ones I’m constantly asking myself. Another important question to ask is am I still doing social media right? As the networks themselves grow, conventions change, and as our own communities broaden, we need to remember adjust our strategies as well.
Great point, Shakirah! People should definitely continue to examine their efforts to make they are staying true to their goals and strategy. Thanks for weighing in!
I am very new to the social media game and even going into a platform with a plan on how you will utilize it in your marketing strategy is not the end all. You must adapt that plan to fit each social media site and you may develop different purposes for different sites. But some plan is better than no plan. Just be prepared to adapt! Great article!!
Thanks for your weighing in, Heidi. You’re right – each platform is different, so your approach should be too. Great point and good luck with your social media efforts. Let me know if you ever any questions!
Not unlike any other promotional tool- is it right to use radio, TV, newspaper, emails, et al.
More tools in the kit, but you need to figure out if they are right for you.
Good stuff L!
Well said, Todd!
Timely post, Laura! I have one going up on the DIY blog this week (I think?) re: strategy and making sure it’s in line with your business.
I just returned from a 2 hour meeting/coaching session with a client basically going step by step over the how-to, they why and the what of social media.
We even learned how to use the #hashtag, which as simple as that sounds, can overwhelm a client when you suggest they use them in their tweets (Selectively!).
Or, how to go about connecting with the ‘right’ people! That’s tough for a lot of folks.
Just ‘doing social media’ is not a strategy! Well-said!
You said it, friend! There are so many details it’s easy for clients to get overwhelmed, so it’s our job to hold their hands and walk them through it. But, before we get to that, we need to make sure the strategy aligns with their goals first. I can’t wait to read your post – be sure to share it with me!
Hi Laura, First of all — loving the site! You have a ton of great content. So glad to be part of your tribe!
I’ve been there as a small business person. You setup your FB and Twitter pages because you “have” to have one, then they lie dormant while you go back to the million other things your business demands. Social is not easy, and to your point, it is even harder if you don’t have a purpose, goals and a strategy for achieving them. “Time and budget” — it’s amazing how many social media proponents leave those two words out of the discussion.
Social media is amazing and one of the most powerful tools at a small business’ disposal. But it’s not magic and takes a lot of work to do effectively.
Thanks for the kind words, Adam! I’m so glad you like the site. Glad to be part of your tribe as well! Looking forward to getting to know you better.
Love your comment! You’re right – social media is not a magic bullet. Like any marketing effort, it requires strategy, time, effort and some good, ole fashioned hard work to be effective.
I need to expound upon messaging here. There is no social media strategy without a fool-proof message that complements and integrates with all of marketing’s disciplines. Those peeps who believe they can “go it alone” without a coordinated effort are sadly mistaken and will fail.
Amen, sister! Thanks for that point!
Well, you said a mouthful with this line, Laura …
“Without a social media strategy, it’s like getting in your car and driving without knowing the destination.”
Oh, eventually you’d end up somewhere.
That’s for sure.
But you might end up out in the middle of the desert with no service station, diner, or rest stop in sight.
And in the passenger seat next to you would be sitting a ton of regrets. 🙁
A strategy, a plan, a direction for any aspect of marketing your business is paramount.
Thanks for setting me straight, Melanie! You’re right – you DO end up somewhere, but just not where you want to be. Well said. Love the line – no strategy, no success! I might have to borrow that from you. 😉 Thanks for weighing in!
Borrow away, Laura!
It’s the highest form of flattery.
Talking about social media …
Blogging is my all-time favorite social media marketing platform.
I’ve had a love affair with words since first grade.
So it makes sense blogging is my “thing”.
I’m always taken aback by fellow bloggers I meet who are wonderful writers but have no goal in mind (at all) for their blog.
Haven’t even given it one iota’s worth of thought!
I love reading the posts they craft but they come across to me as “scribblings” or “ramblings”.
Have you had that experience, as well, in the blogosphere?
Or maybe with a client you’ve worked with?
Melanie – I’m with you. I love words! Yes, there are plenty of great writers out there with no direction with their blogging. Conversely, there are also businesses out there who want to blog, and perhaps even have a direction, but struggle with it because the writing doesn’t come naturally. Blogging definitely takes work!
Yeah…it’s hard to describe this activity we spend so much time on, but “doing Social Media stuff” doesn’t seem to do the trick, does it? Then again, saying, “I tweeted, commented, Facebooked, blogged, guest-blogged, vlogged, and LinkedIned(?) is a bit of a mouthful. The English language needs an update.
As do many companies and people who think they can just “do” this stuff.
Great advice here, my friend 🙂
It’s not only how we talk about it that matters, it’s how we execute. If you don’t have a strategy behind what you’re doing, it’s all for nothing. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words, Margie!