The one question you need to ask before writing a Social Media Strategy is: Why?
The rise of social media is one of the biggest changes businesses have experienced this century. But I’m sure you knew that. And I’m sure your managers, colleagues and customers know that as well. What they probably don’t know is what to do with it.
These past few years, I’ve had a lot of meetings with companies looking to start using social media. During those meetings, one question has become very important.
If the customer doesn’t ask it, I will. Because it shows you what the customers knows, believes and expects and that is the groundwork of any successful approach.
Now it’s your turn. They just told you why they want to use social media but that might not be why they should. You can give them exactly what they ask for and they might be pleased with that, but that’s not the real challenge. The challenge is to find out together what they really need and give them that.
What do we really want?
Ask your customer what he hopes to achieve.
You might get responses like: “We want to increase the number of likes on our Facebook page.”, “We want more followers on Twitter.”, “We want to build a community around a certain topic.”
This is where you ask the all important question: “Why?”.
You may get a moment of silence as an answer, a (correct) reference to being top of mind and branding, even the need to satisfy internal demands.
But that’s not really the point. These things do matter, but aren’t the things that are truly important.
The company (or business unit) already has a specific goal and strategy. They are selling something to a particular group in a particular way. And this is where social media strategy should start.
Take the existing goals and objectives and explain how social media can help them with those. Suddenly, it’s not about likes or followers anymore. Suddenly it’s about existing KPI, data that they already track, leads, customer satisfaction. Suddenly, social media becomes a useful tool outside of the social media or marketing department.
If the company produces and sells umbrellas, the point of social media is to help them sell more umbrellas.
The core objectives of the company are the core objectives of the social media strategy
If you don’t start with the goal of the company (or business unit), your social strategy may be brilliant but pointless. You need to make it relevant.
So is it about likes or followers or community? Is it about funny cat videos and infographics? Maybe, if it brings you closer to your objective. That is the alfa and omega of your strategy. The everlasting, long term goal.
Using social media as a tool means that the social media strategy doesn’t need to be all that elaborate. By talking about the existing company strategy (often not written down!), it quickly becomes obvious what to do.
This is different for every company. A discounter has a different strategy than a luxury brand. Those focused on timeless classics have a different strategy than those focused on novelty products and high fashion. One size never fits all.
Enter the strategy
Now we know what the point is, let’s make a plan to achieve it.
This is where existing strategies and data become invaluable. Successful companies know their product and their customers. But this information may not be written down and is always spread over several people. So if necessary, go talk to sales and customer care. Figure out who buys the product, why they do that and how they respond to it afterwards.
Ultimately, you are taking the existing strategy and make a social subdivision. A social strategy needs to be part of a whole. On its own, there is little point to it.
Always, always ask why.