Creating an Actual Social Media Marketing Strategy

Let’s get right to the point. Posting occasionally on your Twitter account or writing blogs for the sake doing so doesn’t constitute a social media marketing strategy. And that’s why I believe so many people turn sour on the idea of social media marketing; they don’t have a strategy in place when they start a social media campaign. As a result, they make no headway with their social media marketing.

Think about it. You create detailed goals and strategies for every other facet of your marketing campaign. If you send out direct mail sales letters, you identify your target audience, create a targeted list, write a call to action to achieve a certain response, and measure the results.
Doesn’t it just make sense to do the same type of strategizing for your social media campaign?

Start with the Goals

Before you can create a strategy, you need to identify what you want to accomplish with social media marketing. Here are some common goals to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Build authority
  • Learn more about your target audience
  • Gain inbound links
  • Educate and inform customers
  • Improve customer service
  • Monitor brand reputation

This list could go on forever, but you’ve got the idea. Don’t start your social media campaign until you’ve clearly established and made a written record of these goals.

Create a Strategy Based on Research

Again, blindly jumping into social media is a terrible mistake that can create major setbacks. You need to spend time doing detailed research and creating solid strategies that will enable you to reach your goals.
The research process includes:

  • Determining if your target audience is online
  • Figuring out where they are
  • Examining the successes and failures of other social media campaigns
  • Creating realistic timelines
  • Establishing a method for tracking results

Once you’ve done all this research, you can start building the actual path (strategy) for reaching your goals.

  • Building Relationships- At the end of the day, social media is all about building relationships. Whether your goal is to simply increase brand awareness or to gain inbound links for your website, you have to build relationships to do it. This means you don’t just show up on the social network of your choice blasting your marketing message. That’s not going to get the job done. In fact, it’s going to make everyone hate you. You have to treat social media users just like you would people in real life. Get to know them. Interact without promoting. Help each other out. Only then can you start to achieve your goals.
  • Creating a Schedule- Remember what I said at the beginning of this post? Tweeting, blogging, or posting on forums haphazardly isn’t a social media strategy. You need to set up an actual schedule. Not only will this help you stay committed and on task, but creating a social media schedule also improves your campaign’s efficiency. You’ll no longer be wasting time getting on sporadically and making up your strategy as you go.
  • Staying the Course- Too many times, companies view social media as a quick fix. The reality is social media is a marathon not a sprint. Remember, it’s about building relationships. This requires constant connections over a long period of time, just like any other relationship. You can’t expect to gain valuable insight, increase brand awareness, or build relationships with people who will help promote your content in a matter of days. It takes months. Years even. Stick with it!
  • Measuring the Results- How you measure success depends on which goals you’re trying to achieve. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness and to maintain a positive reputation, you can track results by using conversation discovery techniques. Whether this is setting up Google Alerts for any time your brand is mentioned or paying a company to do it for you, the point is that you need to have a strategy for monitoring your results. By taking the guesswork out of your social media monitoring, you can see exactly how your campaign is performing.
  • Making the Right Tweaks- Now that you have a strategy in place for monitoring your progress toward your goals, it’s time to start tweaking your campaign for maximum efficiency. For instance, if your goal is building links and you see you aren’t gaining any back links, you might need to alter the style of your content. Or perhaps you need to promote it differently (maybe you’re promoting it on the wrong social media sites.) The point is if your strategy just isn’t working (assuming you’ve given it time to work,) you need to make some changes. No one achieves perfection on their first try. It requires constant fine-tuning.

What are your social media goals? What strategies do you use to achieve them? Share them with us in the replies!

About Eric Brantner

You can follow Eric on Twitter at @Eric_Brantner.

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  • http://www.dottedi.biz Bob Meetin

    As much as anything I think that the real key is understanding personality types, business types, and developing a plan that is implementable based upon the business, budget if any, and thought process.

    You can make up the greatest plan in the world but if cannot be implemented because of lack of budget and the business owner(s) is too distracted to take the time to learn and follow the 1-2-3 step guide then it will never succeed.

    Interviewing the business principles must be part of the plan.

  • http://www.gutzmarketingblog.com Holly Powell

    I was enlightened by this post. I definitely agree that creating a social media strategy is needed in your social media campaign. But needs to be implemented in order to achieve success. I believe monitoring the results will also be a great idea to keep track of your marketing strategy what is good, or what may went wrong…

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  • http://www.OneStopWebSupport.com Jeff Baas

    Excellent points. Thanks for helping me piece together some random thoughts that hadn't coalesced in my head.

    I think a lot of us look at social media tasks from an employee mindset — complete the task and receive a reward, regardless of what completing the task achieved.

    That leads to the tendency to to do those tasks just for the sake of doing them and bailing out when when we don't see immediate compensation for our efforts.

    It also leads to the failure to measure results, and the unwillingness to tweak and improve, that you described.

    If we see social marketing as a task for which we expect compensation simply because we put some time into it, we'll never see any benefits.

    If, instead, we start by defining the results we want and then focus on getting the output of our efforts to match the results we seek, we'll start to see real benefits from those efforts.

  • http://www.thedotcomlifestyle.com Justin Brooke

    Social media should be part of the internet marketing strategy of the person who has a business online. And this content definitely helps.

  • http://www.guitarhype.com/ Jack W Armstrong

    Social media marketing really demands managing and planning before and during demonstrating.

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  • http://www.bomi.org Megan Lochte

    We just started our social media planning and this article was a huge help in simplifying the whole process. There is so much out there that your head kind of spins and you lose perspective. We are an educational institute and found LinkedIn and Blogger are probably our strongest outlets, yet Y! Buzz and Youtube are also smaller manageable outlets that we can continue to spread awareness and increase credibility to our brand. Thank you again for your help!

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  • http://www.experienceadvertising.com Evan

    Great post! Thanks for the social media tips.

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  • http://www.JaclynBoruch.com Jaclyn Boruch

    This is a great post! These social media tips are great and clearly explain how to properly use social media. Great Job!

  • http://www.buxtons.net Phil

    A really informative article. I have been researching how social media can help our business and since pretty much all of our marketing is inhouse by people who have no experience of marketing this really helped me nail down what we need to do, what we need to establish and how social media website can help out business. Thank you

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  • Anonymous

    Hay! Thank you for wonderful social media marketing strategies , guide and information. I agree that using the power of it properly can make any business successful. Because it has good potential which needs to be figure out for our use.

  • http://www.intesols.com.au SEO Australia

    Social Media Marketing, if not understood well, can be tough but if you know the basics, then it is very easy to climb the top with SMM, but one of the most important thing in doing SMM is that its all about building relationship and not just, selling your product.

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  • Cayleigh Parker

    I am
    grateful for the hundreds of hours each of you put into your blogs. Much
    success to all of you in the future!   I recently read a great post
    by Andrew Hunt about how to drive actual revenue from social media for B2B
    companies, Is
    Your B-2-B Social Media Strategy Full of B.S.?, http://www.inboundsales.net/blog/bid/48273/Is-Your-B-2-B-Social-Media-Strategy-Full-of-B-S check it out.