This month, my Social Media MBA students are working on a project that involves a website, blog, and multiple peripheral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective of this project is to give them a virtual sandbox of sorts to put into action what they have learned in my previous two social media courses. The project involves creating a social media strategy from the ground up. Quite a challenge with the limited amount of time in a semester. However, they are moving right along and will pass the torch so to speak when their course ends in December.
The first hurdle we faced this term was setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. This is often the case for many businesses. Initial goals and objectives are either too broad, not specific enough, or not measurable. Once we clearly defined our business objectives, the social strategy fell into place.
Regardless of the type of new business venture, organizations should evaluate their business objectives, strategies, and tactics beforehand. The world of social media is no different. Each organization is unique, and their approaches to social media strategy will vary according to set business objectives.
Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?
A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:
- Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
- What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
- When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
- Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
- Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
- How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.
A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from searches, and mobile use for these searches will soon exceed those done via personal computer! Given this trend, having timely and relevant content on the web is paramount. Also important is making all of this content easy to view on a mobile device. Brands can build their web presence with the creation of a blog, videos on their webpage, or even providing downloadable information. When creating or curating this content, always add share buttons and even schedule tweets (or live tweet) about interesting posts to increase reach.
Content with value will drive social influence. However, content must also directly relate back to the business goals and objectives. Great content can be a source of Internet traffic as well as assist in building authority and trust that ultimately leads to social influence. With this social influence, an organization can leverage this it to drive growth and sales.
Do your social media goals and objectives directly relate to set organizational objectives? Specifically, can you align each social tactic you employ to a social goal or objective that relates to a business objective?
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