Strategy and Tactics of Social Media

Posted: April 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Read Lee Ogden's Post at Online Marketing Blog

Does social media strategy need to come before tactics?  Great question posed in a recent post by Lee Oden on the Online Marketing Blog.  To simplify the debate, let’s assume that the definition of “strategy” is planning, and the definition of “tactics” is doing or executing.  Lee asked this question of several social media luminaries and as you might have guessed, most said strategy was extremely important and should come before tactics.

The lone dissenter was Guy Kawasaki, one of the original Apple employees responsible for launching the Mac in 1984.  He’s currently managing a venture capital company, a successful blogger, and author of nine books on business start-ups.  His advice – focus on tactics:

“Social-media strategy” is over-rated if not a downright oxymoron. The goal is to do more business. Social-media is a means to that end. Maybe you’ll use it to establish warm and fuzzy communal feelings. Maybe you’ll sell excess inventory. Don’t focus on some kind of high-level strategy because no one really knows how to use social media yet. Focus on tactics: Get more followers, make them happy, promote your stuff to them every once in a while. That’s all you need to know about strategy right now.”

George Patton, the noted American World War II general had a similar philosophy.  He said, “a good plan executed violently now is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Note that neither was saying you shouldn’t have a plan…they’re just saying you shouldn’t plan yourself into paralysis.  So, what should your social media strategy (plan) include?  I’ve been asked this question several times over the last few months and here is my answer:

SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY OUTLINE

1)  What is the purpose of your social media efforts?  Brand awareness, sales, loyalty, etc.

2)  What types of people do you want to talk to?  Where do you find them?  What are they talking about already?

3)  What kind of relationship do you want with your audience?  Awareness, single transactions, repeat business, or advocates selling on your behalf?

4)  What is your value proposition…your 30 second elevator pitch?  What differentiates you from all of your competitors?

5)  With whom can you partner?  Suppliers, resellers, industry / trade resources?

6)  How will you be human?  How will you be useful to your audience and earn their trust?  At what point is it safe to point conversations towards your product or service?

Answer these questions and you’ve got a good strategy ready to execute violently!  Now you’re ready to act and here’s how you do it:

SOCIAL MEDIA TACTICS

1)  Establish a blog. Social media is not for those who are unwilling to write!  If you want people’s attention you’ve got to provide content.  You don’t have to develop it on your own – you can provide commentary on other people’s content (like I did by referencing Lee Oden’s article above.) You’ll want a single place to place to house all of your content where you can point your traffic and see the results.  Blog software (I use WordPress) provides all the analytical tools you’ll need to know who’s visiting your site and what content they’re viewing.

2)  Join social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.  Join multimedia sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr and social bookmarking sites like Digg, Del.icio.us, and StumbleUpon.  Use the search tools on each to find groups and people that match the answers to question #2 of the social media strategy outline above.  Also find forums and other online communities where your target audience hangs out.  A quick Google search should help you find them.  Spend 30-60 days listening to what your audience has to say.  They’ll tell you (and anyone else listening) what kind of content they want.

While you’re listening you can work on your branding, incorporating your logo and business information, but don’t get too hung up on that.  Social media websites are designed to be simple.  One of the reasons Facebook is poised to swallow the Internet is because the design is relatively uniform from page to page.

3)  Set up your dashboard and find analytical resources.  Almost every social media site has these already.  Some tools, such as HootSuite attempt to mash multiple social media sites into one platform.  They can help you get a quicker world view of what others are saying, but it may not be enough.  You’ll still want to monitor and track everywhere you’re visible.

4)  Build your community. Ask questions, share your content, post links and comment on content from others, and get involved in discussions.  Follow (or “like”) those that follow you.  Guy Kawasaki has over 225,000 followers, yet follows over 250,000 people!

It is also important to note that some people get turned off by others with big networks.  They feel that the bigger the network, the less likely you are to engage them personally.  You’ve got to fight that stigma by sending personal messages, thanking people for their comments, recognizing people on their birthdays, and doing whatever else you can to be personal.

5)  Measure, analyze and adapt. You’ve spent a huge amount of time building your social network.  It’s time to ask what you should start, stop, and continue doing.  The proof is in the print-outs.  Use your data to get better.

6)  Celebrate your failures as fervently as your successes.  People love to say (and I agree) that social media is a great equalizer for small businesses because it can be done so inexpensively.  However, what you don’t spend in dollars you will spend in time.  It is important to spread that cost as much as possible by engaging everyone in your organization or sphere of influence.  Give them the power to spread your social media message and reward them for their efforts.

Social media is new and there is no tried and true formula.  If you have a good plan and focus on activity you’ll get results.

Need help developing your social media strategy and putting it into action? CONTACT US TODAY!

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Comments
  1. Judith Copeland says:

    This is a good roll up your sleeves here’s how to get it done post. Good especially for those who need somewhere to start. So much of the strategy plan involves the same questions you must ask using any media type.

    Although it sounds as though everything in social media happens overnight, it does not. Building a community takes time, remember you must know what audience you want to reach and the best way to reach them. Twenty -year -olds are into Facebook and mobile apps for example, so those are the platforms I would target most heavily, as well as U-Tube and Stumblupon, etc…I would still be out on Twitter, but wouldn’t use e-mail marketing campaigns for this demographic. Be patient, a lot of things are quantifiable, and measurable but some are not.

    Know what you want your audience to do: Is it just to join your community, go to a product website. buy a product, make a donation, spread the word?

    And to repeat what should become a mantra – be authentic

    My2cents,
    Judith Copeland
    Communications Professional

  2. maverickmindonline says:

    Great comment Judith!

    Looking for an example of how another company employed their social media strategy? Check this out – http://tl.gd/11ti83. A TX real estate developer figured out that their ideal clients were mostly 20 somethings that were highly involved in social media. They listened first and now they are acting! Great job LOL…you’ll have to view the link to get the reference.

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