9 Building Blocks to a Social Media Strategy

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Social media marketing requires proper planning. It does not matter if you are selling chocolate-covered cherries, custom manufactured products, automobiles, financial services or anything else. Your social media marketing will be far more effective if it begins with a well thought out strategy that looks further down the road and focuses on the bigger picture. If you were selling chocolate-covered cherries, you probably could create a Facebook page and sell a few, but you might also consider your audience on a larger scale, where they are spending their time online, and how to reach them through their preferred social channels.

Your social media marketing strategy will be far different from mine, as your product or service, and what differentiates you, is unique. Your SM Strategy needs to be as unique as your offering. The questions I've outlined are not the end-all-be-all to writing your social media strategy, but they are 9 questions (or building blocks) I looked at in detail when mapping out my social media marketing strategy for 2011.

Good luck!

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9 Building Blocks to a Social Media Strategy

  1. 1. 9 Building Blocks of a Social Media Strategy March 2010
  2. 2. 9 Steps: Overview 1/7/2011 2 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 I am Wendy Boyce, Social Media & Marketing Manager at SIGMA Marketing Group. Social media marketing requires proper planning. It does not matter if you are selling chocolate-covered cherries, custom manufactured products, automobiles, financial services or anything else. Your social media marketing will be far more effective if it begins with a well thought out strategy that looks further down the road and focuses on the bigger picture. If you are selling chocolate-covered cherries, you probably could create a Facebook page and sell a few, but you might also consider your audience on a larger scale, where they are spending their time online, and how to reach them through their preferred social channels. Your SM strategy will be far different from mine, as your product or service, and what differentiates you, is unique. Your SM strategy needs to be as unique as your offering. The questions below are not the end-all-be-all to writing your social media strategy, but they are 9 questions (or building blocks) I looked at in detail when mapping out my social media marketing strategy for 2011.
  3. 3. Step 1: What are your goals? What are you trying to achieve through the use of social media marketing? Are you a B2C company trying to generate sales? Are you a B2B organization looking to grow your sales funnel? Are you leveraging social media on a campaign-by-campaign basis? 1/7/2011 3 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Consider what your ideal conversions might look like 12 months from now as a result of having leveraged social media channels. When setting goals, however, be realistic. If you are just jumping in now, don’t expect the gravy train to roll on into the station- it takes time to build relationships…Which is what social media marketing is all about. Define you’re your goals, whether it means 50 new leads in the sales funnel or $50,000 in new sales attributed to social channels.
  4. 4. Step 2: Who is your audience? 1/7/2011 4 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 If you don’t know the answer to this one - stop now… Go back and look at question #1. Your messaging and the content you push through social channels will be determined by WHOM you are marketing to. This will vary for B2B and B2C social media marketers. For the B2C marketers, make sure you have a solid understanding of your primary customer personas. In the B2B social media space, you should have an idea of what your target business customer looks like. What are the vertical markets your B2B organization, serves and so on.
  5. 5. Step 3: Do you have a content strategy? 1/7/2011 5 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Your content is what will begin the dialogue that will build relationships via social channels. Once you know your goals, and whom you are talking to, you can begin to build a strategy to develop relevant and engaging content that supports your products and services. For the B2B social media marketer, if you are serving multiple vertical markets, you’ll want to develop content tailored to each market. Having a strong keyterm strategy provides a solid foundation for your content. You’ll be able to monitor your keyterm/content success (see measurement) and determine how to improve (see adjusting your strategy) future efforts.
  6. 6. Step 4: What tools will you need? 1/7/2011 6 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Your social media marketing toolbox will be entirely unique to your needs. Once you have determined your audience, your goals, and the type of content you’ll be pushing out there, you can begin to build a list of the tools you’ll use to make that happen. Your toolbox will include things such as the social networking sites you manage profiles on, your social media browser, social listening platforms, blogging tools and software and so on and so forth. This list will continue to evolve, as new tools and social listening platforms continue to be introduced daily.
  7. 7. Step 5: What will your ongoing process be? 1/7/2011 7 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Once you’ve determined your content strategy and social media tool set, you can begin to map out your day-to-day social media marketing process. What will your Twitter usage look like? How often will you publish blog content? On which social bookmarking site will you maintain a library of links? How many videos will you produce? Which videos can be produced in-house versus outsourced? Consider what will need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and so on. Get it down on paper so you can begin to see how much effort will be required to meet your goals.
  8. 8. Step 6: What are your human resource needs? 1/7/2011 8 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 This is a difficult question to answer… You’ll need to really define your tools and process to understand the bandwidth required to accomplish the tasks. In many cases, this may require an investment in head-count inside your organization, or use of an outside consultant. This can get tricky, as social media can easily be a full-time or round-the-clock activity. The social media world never sleeps. You’ll need to develop some criteria and objectives that don’t focus on every minute detail, but optimize the human resource hours you spend on social media activity. Important to remember, leverage the right employees with the right skill sets. Don’t ask a highly technical resource to upload tweets, when perhaps someone in an administrative support role can complete that task effectively.
  9. 9. Step 7: How will you engage your employees? 1/7/2011 9 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 If you haven’t thought about this… you should...   Your employees are a HUGE asset to you in helping your content become more viral. Each of your employees has their own social network - why not look to leverage that? Be smart about your company’s social media policy, but encourage and properly train your employees to help with activities like social bookmarking, blog sharing, “liking” Facebook posts and so on. Employee social profiles are a valuable entry point as well. Be sure your key employees have properly optimized profiles where necessary. (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  10. 10. Step 8: How will you measure your social media activity? 1/7/2011 10 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Measurement of your social media activities should include a combination of things - now defined by the first 7 questions... Web analytics, tied together with social listening, conversion measurement, strength and size of your social network, offline touchpoint metrics and a whole slew of other things custom- tailored to your business objectives. You may be measuring your SEO efforts to determine how well your content/keyword strategy is working ( I recommend that anyway). How will your measurements be reported and to whom? Your stakeholders will help determine what you measure and how it relates back to your goals, and ROI of your social media marketing.
  11. 11. Step 9: How will you adjust your strategy? 1/7/2011 11 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Your social media strategy will be a living, breathing entity. The marketing landscape and available social networking channels continue to evolve with every sunrise and sunset. Just because you’ve written a lucid strategy document does not mean you should not make adjustments from time to time. You may discover things in your analytics and measurement that are working where you thought there would be no activity- this could lead you to pull resources from one social media activity and focus on another. As you measure, you can adjust- but be careful not to take huge leaps. With each new social media tool that comes out, there are advantages and disadvantages. Tread lightly and test the waters with each new site before jumping in with both feet.
  12. 12. Does it seem there was a question missing here? You may be wondering why budget was not one of my questions. Simply put, many companies are just now diving into social media marketing. 1/7/2011 12 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Budgeting this type of activity is certainly possible after you have clearly answered the previous nine questions. Just the social listening platforms alone have such a wide range in costs on a month-to-month basis. You really need to have a solid understanding of your business requirements, human resource needs and tools before you can throw dollar amounts around. I recommend not focusing on the end number, and really understanding your needs, and the ROI of the effort. You can then begin to piece together a realistic budget, which may in most cases be uncomfortable because it’s a new investment for many companies.
  13. 13. In closing… Having a well developed social media strategy that outlines your goals, tools, and processes will better equip you to present your budget to the decision makers. With all the right measurements in place, you’ll be able to show the return on your social media investment since you’ve documented what truly matters and how you’ll measure that. 1/7/2011 13 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Because your business is so unique, you may have other questions you need to explore that I’ve not listed here.
  14. 14. Engaging your customersthrough analytics, strategy and technology 1/7/2011 14 Confidential © SIGMA Marketing Group 2010 Our Blog: FifthGearAnalytics.com Web: SigmaMarketing.com Twitter: @SIGMA_MktgGrp Call Toll Free: 888.277.9837 Email: SIGMAinfo@sigmamarketing.com

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