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If you’re thinking about creating a social media strategy for your business you may be tempted by jumping in straight away, picking all the latest en vogue social media platforms – and you’re done. Before you jump in it’s always worth spending some time to think through your social media strategy.  With that in mind – we created The Talking Model© – which gives you a systematic approach to help you build out your social media strategy.

Tribes

Define and build your segments and personas

We’re obviously giving a nod to Seth Godin’s reference to people being part of tribes of like minded people, all connected with shared goals and interests. The first step before you dive right into your strategy is to create your persona for your ideal customers.  Find the hooks, the pain points, the problems, that they’ll have and think about how your product or service is going to solve that problem for them. Basically, be empathic, do the human thing.

Activities 

Understand their social activities and footprints

Once you have identified your personas and segments you need to have a better understand of what they are actually doing online, if you’ve identified the main social media platforms that your target audiences are using, how are they using those platforms? Does your target audience just simply maintain a profile on network sites? Do they read a lot of content, maybe sometimes repost or share? Do they actively post reviews? Are they doing the content creation?  

Having an understanding of what your audience is doing on social media will help shape the content that you need to create and publish. For example; if your audience are mainly spectators, then running a lot of competitions where you’re asking people to load up images or interact may not be the right path. Be commonsensical, it’s surprisingly not that common.

Listening 

Taking the time to understand the conversation landscape

When you know where your tribe hang out and you have a confident indication about which social media channels they are using, and how they are using them – you need to start listening! I do mean listening, I don’t mean reporting on all those retweets.

If you jump right in and start talking at people with no thought to what content will hook or engage them you are simply shouting at people who will ignore you and won’t be afraid to publicly tell you that you’ve missed the mark.

Equally, this is the time that you want to find groups and see what the hot topics are, do your homework and find out who the influencers are, who do you need to engage with, and don’t forget to listen to what your competition is saying on these channels. Nothing wrong with a bit of borrowed genius.

An overlooked and inordinately simple tip at this stage, is to use Google Trends to map out the hooks and pain points you identified in your personas and listening activity and plot out a calendar and/or topics for your social media conversations.

If you have social monitoring tools (free or paid) set that up now and monitor the conversations based on your target keywords, brand names, and the issues/ paid points your target audience are interested in, discussing and so on. Keep those ears to the ground.

KPI

Key performance indicators measuring your efforts

You need to measure your efforts. Social media can and should be measured and have key performance indicators which demonstrate social media impact on the business and its bottom line.  

Social media can have a bad reputation about being fluffy and not an overly magical value driver for a business- but it can, and should, be measured. In any event, you must demonstrate to your boss, or your investors, or whoever, that your marketing efforts on social media can, and will make a difference to the bottom line.

The only way you can do that is to measure it with the metrics available to you. Both the challenge and the opportunity here is that there are literally hundreds of metrics that you can measure. Start by focusing on the ones that matter for your business, how does social media impact the bottom line? Avoid blowing your trumpet too hard about how many thousands of followers you have on social media, instead tie this into the bigger picture in a meaningful way, how does social support your business objectives?

A very useful thing to do here, and one often neglected, is to get familiar with Google Analytics (GA) and the attribution models therein. The Acquisition report in GA works on the last click model, which means social media can sometimes look a little bit rubbish, as it isn’t necessarily getting its due credit. We have a handy guide on Tracking campaigns in Google Analytics and an explainer on how Attribution works, you should check them out in the resources section.

Investment 

Identify resources technology and time to implement

Social media might look really easy to some but it is a large group of marketing channels in their own right, and you are going to need to invest in it, both time and budget. Social media platforms may be ‘free’ to set up, but many companies fail in their social media strategy by underestimating the resources needed overall.

Do you have a dedicated person who is going to monitor and reply to your tweets, who is going to write your blog posts? What’s the process if someone posts something bad? What would your social media policy be?  Do members of the team need additional training and development? Will you outsource some campaigns to agencies?

Network 

Discover and engage with influencers

Your social media efforts will be improved if you are partnering and working with influencers in your space. You should have an idea of who to work with and follow, or collaborate with from the listening part of this social media journey.

Use comments and conversation to improve your reputation and brand image. Inspire posts, and create an opportunity to deliver your content and amplify this through influencers. If you have listened well, and invested time in this, it will come across as genuine and not shouting on your soapbox. I’m under no illusion that influencer marketing is considerably more nuanced than this, but you have to walk before you can run.

Goals 

Set smart goals for your business

Why are you doing this? What, at the end of the day, is the whole point of this social media strategy? Is it for awareness, sales, loyalty, retention?

Google Analytics provides a number of reports to help you analyse how much your social media efforts are impacting your goals and bottom line. They are not necessarily off the shelf and ready to go however.

That said, if you want to get some idea of the impact of social media, there are some musings here.