Social Media Needs Strategy

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Before you hire someone to “do” your social media, make sure they have a profound understanding of communications strategy and human behavior.

For social media to be effective in your business, it must be a good strategic fit for what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to use social media in your marketing mix because you think it makes you relevant, or because you think humble bragging on Facebook is your road to success, or you think a 12-year-old is the perfect person for the task because they grew up with digital technology, STOP!

For social media to be powerful in generating brand equity and raving fans, it must be woven into the fabric of your entire communications plan. And it must be managed by a skilled strategist who understands what it takes to grow a business using sound communications principles and what motivates human beings to respond to your message. Consider these five pieces of advice:

Just because a person is young doesn’t guarantee proficiency in the strategic use of social media. Social media is a channel for the distribution of content that’s interesting and appealing to your target audience(s). If you’re going to hire interns or recent college graduates to work on your social media, be prepared to provide strong, strategic guidance. Be sure to keep an eye on the level of engagement they’ve achieved and how they’re branding you. (The more inexperienced ones go overboard on the humble bragging.)

If your audience isn’t using Snapchat, then you shouldn’t, either. Go where your audience’s attention is, and slant your messages according to the tone of the channel. Pinterest is a whole different world than LinkedIn.

Share content that has value to your audience. No one really cares about you unless you’re sharing something that’s relevant to them or is share-worthy. Offer lead magnets that attract people to your website. Do a mix of content types — written content, video, podcasts, pictures, etc. Share tips and information in your blog. Earn their trust in your skills and expertise. Share (curate) content that’s industry specific. If your wealth management clients aren’t interested in the latest sock market reports (ask them), stop sending them.

Have a strategy for preventing, and especially handling, social media crises. The Internet is full of stories of how crises were poorly handled by young, inexperienced people who were given sole responsibility for the social media function. Don’t hand over the car keys to your social media person and walk away if they don’t have a solid background in public relations, or in direct communication with an organization’s stakeholders.

Don’t abandon all other forms of marketing communications and use social media as your only outreach device. Social media is only a slice of your marketing mix. Focus on reinventing your website as a media outlet, and load it up with free downloads, video, images, a great blog, articles and more. Use relevant social media outlets to share this content and drive people to the source: your website. Don’t neglect networking, list building, public speaking, live events, media coverage and other attention-getting, trust earning tactics.