Overview Social media has now become an everyday part of your customers’, your competitors’, and your own personal and professional lives. The amount of time spent on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and email demonstrate the extent to which these technologies draw participants into a world that is beyond instant gratification. To initiate or improve your use of social media as an organization, you need to develop a social media strategy that cuts through the hype, and uses the medium in an effective and resource-savvy way. Social media should be one of your most powerful marketing, customer service, and evaluation tools.
Overview This guide gives you a framework for setting an appropriate social media strategy, and selecting the right external partners or tools to support you in implementing it. Using this template, you will be able to create a written document that details your social media strategy and clearly maps your wider organizational and business plans.
Social Media Strategy Framework Below is a strategy framework, which is covered in further detail in the following sections. Working through each of these sections will help you gain a clear understanding of what your social media strategy should be and what you need to do to implement it. • Executive summary: Here you put a brief synopsis of what the plan should address and the timeframe involved in carrying out the plan. This sets the scene for why your company is investing in social media.
Social Media Strategy Framework • Situation Analysis: This provides a description of the context your plan is trying to address, including; • Organizational Context - What is the situation of your organization? How does it compare to its closest competitors? • Social Media Audit - What is your current social media presence? • Target Audience: List the primary audiences you want to impact through this plan.
Social Media Strategy Framework • Objectives: Three or more objectives that underlie the organizations goals. These should be specific, measurable, attainable, and have an exact deadline for completion. • Key messages: List no more than three key messages you want to impress upon your target audience. Too many messages create “noise” and confusion, reducing the possibility that your most important messages will get through. • Strategies: What methods will you use to get your message across?
Social Media Strategy Framework • Tactics: The specific action items you will take to support your strategies and meet your objectives. Each should include a deadline and cost estimate. • Timing: What parts of the campaign will happen when? How long will they last? How often will you report on progress? When will you review progress?
Social Media Strategy Framework • Budget: This looks at tracking internal and external costs – it’s essential you understand the true costs of running a social media project to ensure you measure ROI accurately. • Measurement: How are you going to measure the success of the campaign? What targets and tools will you use to measure against these targets?
Understanding the Framework Components Executive Summary Your strategy document will begin with a short comment on what your plan is trying to address, and the timeframe involved in carrying out the plan. Useful things to include are an overview of the current situation, where you want to get to and how you’re going to get there. When writing this section, think about what senior management would want to know to be able to understand the commercial context of the social media plan.
Understanding the Framework Components Situation Analysis This section of your strategy must be both broad and concise, setting the context for all that follows, but providing focus. Reference out to internal and external documents often, to convey the breath of research/context without reiterating detail. There should be two main components to this section, Organizational Context and Social Media Audit.
Understanding the Framework Components Organizational Context Your social media strategy must be built from your organizational/business plan and the relevant marketing and communications objectives within that. The value in simply having a presence on the big social platforms, if they’re not maintained or planned with a foundation of organizational/business goals, can have negative implications, and certainly won’t be delivering for your organization.
Understanding the Framework Components Organizational Context Therefore, the first step before beginning your social media strategy is to understand where and why it fits into your organizational/business plans and goals. Taking the time to map out why you are doing this, in the context of your organization, will lay the foundations for the entire social media strategy.
Understanding the Framework Components Organizational Context • What are your key organizational/business goals and events in the next 1-2 years? • What does a “5c’s” analysis look like for your organization - Company, Competitors, Customers, Collaborators, Climate? • What are your SWOT factors for the next 1-2 years? • Who are your key audiences and how do you communicate with them (existing and planned)? • What organizational/business goals and communication programs do you see social media supporting? • Are you ready as an organization to support a social media strategy?
Understanding the Framework Components Social Media Audit It’s also important at this stage to review where you currently are in your social media activity: Existing Activity: – What tools/platforms are you on and active with? – Are you monitoring online mentions of your name or brand? – How do you measure the success of your social media?
Understanding the Framework Components Social Media Audit Customers – What social networks do our existing customers and target customers use? – How would our customers want to interact with us using social media on and off-site (involves surveys)? – What value are you adding to your customers with social media?
Understanding the Framework Components Social Media Audit Social Media Goals – Where do you want to be in X years based on expected audience evolution/migration? – What are your commercial goals and objectives (financial and non-financial)? – What is the commercial angle – knowing when to sell?
Understanding the Framework Components Social Media Audit Resources – What resources do we need? – What internal/external resources do we have? The answers to these questions will form your situational analysis, from which the next few sections of your strategy will flow. Complement this analysis with your own evaluation processes, questions, research and knowledge from elsewhere in your organization.
Understanding the Framework Components Target Audience Through your situational analysis you will be familiar with your target audiences. At this stage, you need to identify the most relevant audience(s) for social media activity by answering the below: • Who are your target audiences? Customers, Employees, Partners, Government, Business, B2B/B2C, Donors, etc. • Where are they online? Blogs, Forums, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn?
Understanding the Framework Components Setting Objectives Your social media objectives must fit comfortably as sub- objectives in your organizational/business and marketing plans. They must be SMART objectives, and result from a corporate desire to: • Be evident online. • To extend your “digital footprint.” • To add to your asset base (online presence/relationships are significant assets). • To establish relationships offering products or services, knowledge, meeting of needs and satisfaction.
Understanding the Framework Components Key Messages At this stage, you should be able to list a maximum of three key messages you want to impress upon your target audience. Too many messages create “noise” and confusion, reducing the possibility that your most important messages will get through. Example Messages: – <Organization name> is a trusted expert on X topic. – <Organization name> enjoys a dialogue with its expert online community. – <Organization name> shares unique news with its online community and provides ways for them to become more involved with the brand and sector.
Understanding the Framework Components Strategies This is where you describe the broad who, how, and what of accomplishing your social media objectives. It’s here you will define the elements listed below: • Platforms/Channels: which ones will reach your target audience best - blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, bookmarking, photo sharing, video sharing, podcasts or forums. • Contexts: Which contexts are creating the key restraints or opportunities.
Understanding the Framework Components Strategies • Resources: Time, skills, and financial - what capacity do you have in house, what can you afford to buy, or become trained in. See more in subsequent sections. • Technologies: What is appropriate for your market and skill sets?
Understanding the Framework Components Strategies Key factors to remember: • Strategy is adaptable by nature. • Strategy will consider skills and responsibilities. • There is an imperative for good, clear employee communication inside the organization. • Strategy will include methodologies for monitoring and reporting. • Strategy will be realistic.
Understanding the Framework Components Tactics The specific action items you will take to support your strategies and meet your objectives. Each should include a deadline and cost estimate. This resource could be essential to assist in the likes of blog creation and design or social media training, see more on this in the assessing external needs and providers section. • Content planning and creation. • Social media training (twitter training, for example). • Benchmarking and measurement planning.
Understanding the Framework Components Timing Your social media timing needs to be mapped against your wider organizational and communication plans, and incorporated into their own communications calendar. This will help you answer: • What parts of the campaign will happen when? • How long will they last? • What preparation is required - content, technology, staffing, training?
Understanding the Framework Components Timing • How often will you benchmark them and report on progress? • When will you review progress? • Other timings to manage - internal, external, awards, events, launches, etc.
Understanding the Framework Components Budget As part of your strategy development you will have evaluated where your internal capacities lie and where you need external support. Where you’re hiring support, this can be plotted into your marketing budget along with tactic-based expenses (see Assessing External Needs and Providers Section for more on this). You should also track and evaluate staff time spent on these new activities.
Understanding the Framework Components Budget • Blog Content Creation: 2 hours per day • Twitter Management: 1 hour per day • Facebook Management: 1 hour per day • Measurement: 2 hours per week • Internal Reporting: 2 hours per week
Understanding the Framework Components Budget • Strategy Meetings: 2 hours per month • Quarterly Review: 2 hours every 3 months This will mean you can genuinely evaluate the costs to your organization of this activity against progress.
Understanding the Framework Components Measurement It’s essential that you decide how are you going to measure the success of the campaign from the start. You must think about what targets and tools you will use, and properly benchmark your starting point. Measurement must be tied back to organizational/business objectives, not PR objectives. For example, increases in sales or new business enquiries. It’s also valuable to measure progress.
Understanding the Framework Components Measurement Quantitative: • Number of followers or fans. • Number of comments, likes, re-tweets. • Number of competition entries. • Number of views. • Number of clicks through to your website. • Most importantly, number of actions taken against your business objectives (e.g. purchased product, sales inquiry, made a donation).
Social Media Strategy Checklist Component Requirement Status Executive Summary Has this been written? Key messages included? Commercial context provided? Situation Analysis Organizational context Social media audit Target Audience Are target audiences defined? Which are your priority audiences? Objectives Are your objectives set? Do they satisfy SMART criteria?
Social Media Strategy Checklist Component Requirement Status Key Messages Maximum of 3 key messages Strategies Which platforms will you use? List of technology required Monitoring and reporting techniques Definition of resources required Tactics List of tactics to support strategies Content requirements Interdependencies of tactics
Social Media Strategy Checklist Component Requirement Status Timing Social media campaign delivery plan Review cycles Key launch dates Budget Budget for internal resource Budget for external resource Investment plan Measurement Quantitative Qualitative Tools and technology Reporting requirements
Social Media Strategy Checklist Component Requirement Status External needs Social media strategy gaps Identify solution providers Define roles and responsibilities Identify costs and include in budget