Use "A STAR" To Build Social Media Strategy

by Dan Harris on April 9th, 2010

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
Whether you’re a business owner, marketing professional, self‐employed or the person who’s been tasked with creating a social media presence for your organization, you need to know
how to best utilize the tools, tap into the conversations, connect with the right digital demographic and capitalize on networking to benefit your company, your cause or yourself personally. Attend a free webcast on this subject. Click here.

Using social networking well is similar to marketing effectively through any other medium. Every organization will have different goals, their own specific approach and unique results, but they can start with realistic expectations. That means you have to assess where you are on the networking continuum, define a purpose and strategy, implement that plan, analyze
the results then constantly correct and improve. Click here to learn more about Twenty 20 Questions You Should Ask and Answer Before You Begin Using Social Media.

Be Careful What You Wish For
Expect some key differences from your experiences with other media, however. Your social media audience will be a unique subset of your traditional audience. “By networking, you can explicitly define and unquestionably reach the specific target you desire,” says Harris. “You can hit the right demographic within a self‐selected community of interest and, with the right approach, they will become quality followers. But expect them to be extremely interactive and conversational. They’ll have questions. They’ll respond and react publicly. They’ll be quick to critique and even quicker to share their perspectives with others. Be prepared,every social media strategy should include policies, procedures and even legal guidelines to protect your business and move it forward. People tout networking as lower cost, but it’s not necessarily low risk. For example, consider the ramifications of too much response, either positive – more orders than you can scale to handle – or negative – viral criticism or complaints, and prepare your business strategically and operationally before you jump.

Time Is Money
Time is money Is the cost of social media really so low? Networking can represent true value with an extremely high return on financial investment, if you are willing to invest time in several
ways. Do not to expect immediate results. Even with the right infrastructure in
place, including an effective website and the tools to track results, it will take at least three to
four months to begin to realize SEO (search engine optimization), four to six months for results to build on web campaigns and more than a year to establish real brand awareness. Plus there’s
significant people time: Dedicate the right people – the ones with the passion to do the ongoing
research and work the connections, the communication skills to represent your organization effectively in real time, and the business savvy to analyze data, manage results and use them to achieve your goals. Then free them up to be a constant presence. And recognize there will be opportunity costs….

So, What Do You Want?
Clearly this is the question. Is your goal to build awareness? Collect qualified leads? You can take a proactive approach with your social media strategy, building your network over time, and constantly working it by engaging, connecting and communicating with a growing number of followers. Or you could choose a non‐conversational listening post approach, using your website as a brochure for corporate news, following competitors, tracking customer comments and being prepared for conflict… Don’t try either one if you’re not willing to commit, Ignore it, let it go flat, and your public will think, "If they can’t even keep up with a LinkedIn account, then how effective are they in their core business?" Whatever approach you choose, systematically capitalizing on social media will take structure. “So, if you’re not convinced networking will work for your whole business, choose one aspect or product and take it through all five steps: assessment, strategy, tactics, action and results. Even a test should be structured appropriately and deployed long enough for optimal results and real ROI.

How Do You Best Serve Your Customers?
Obviously your target clients have issues and challenges. To best serve them you ask, “What do they really want?” “How can I help them?” “How can I show them that my solution will make them more productive or efficient?” Those questions propel you to build the relationships from which you can sell effectively. They’re the same questions you ask to optimize social networking and build connections with your target audience. And the answers you come up with – your consistent presence plus materials and tangible resources that target your audience’s special concerns and needs – become a commodity of value that allows you to start conversations and exchange information. They help establish you as a thought leader and begin to build awareness and trust for your organization with a quality, connected constituency. Regardless of your product or service, take stock of where you are and where you realistically want to be, put the processes and infrastructure in place to implement your plan, and build in the metrics that allow you to assess your effectiveness. Systematically capitalizing on social media is pure common sense.”

Posted in Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy    Tagged with Social Media, Social Networking, Strategy, Marketing, SEO


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