While the execution of an omni-channel social media strategy can be bewilderingly complex, our overall strategy does not need to be.

We can sum up social media strategy simply:

social media strategy in one slide.jpg
click on graphic for larger versions

First, what is the business strategy? Recall from Marketing Blue Belt that strategy is a formula: goals x methods, limited by time and resources. What business objectives are we attempting to achieve with social media? What are our goals? This is a more difficult question than it first sounds; many businesses struggle with well-defined goals and objectives. If we do not have clearly defined goals and cataloged methods/capabilities, along with documented limitations, we don’t have a strategy. With no strategy, we must not proceed for fear of wasting our scarce time and resources.

Second, recall that social media is first about people, then about the content. Who are the people we want to reach, and where do they spend their time? Don’t skimp on your research or make blanket assumptions about your audience. Yes, almost two billion people are on Facebook; is that where your audience uses social media in the context of your products or services? It may not be. Pinterest or Instagram might be better choices, or even foreign networks like vKontakt. Invest significant time and effort to understand your audience.

Finally, consider the content, what you’ll be sharing with your audience. What does your audience already share? What topics are hot? What formats do they consume most? If your audience spends a lot of time on a network like Soundcloud, your format and message had better be audio. If your audience spends a lot of time on YouTube, of course your content should be video.

When we clearly answer why, who, and what – in that order – we have a social media strategy that’s far more likely to deliver the results and outcomes our business asks. Without these answers, we are likely just to flounder and make things up, hoping for lightning to strike. Serendipity is a marvelous, wonderful thing but a terrible strategy – and not something you want to pin your career or business on.

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