It is important to understand that planning a successful social media strategy is a multi-faceted endeavor. Many of you likely have urgent messages that need to be communicated with your community, and I can help you plan out those most immediate objectives. But the long-term, healthy and effective way to plan any organization’s social media program is to take it from the top.

That is what we are doing here. We will go over a 4-step program for getting your social media strategy under control.

These are steps you will want to re-visit regularly as you move forward, a conditioning program for your social media strategy to keep it fit and working for you.

The four steps of planning your strategy are: analyze, plan, create, engage (and then do it all again).

Step 1: Analyze

It’s important to begin with what you already have in place. A lot of you probably already have social media activity underway, so start by taking a look at your existing profiles.

Perform a search for your organization on ALL major social media platforms (even those you “don’t use”).
Find all of them – I mean all of them. You may even have some that you’ve stopped maintaining or some created by past employees or well-meaning volunteers. It’s time to track them all down and see what needs to be done to get them aligned with your goals.

Bring each (official) profile up to date
Some important things to check:

  • Links to your website or landing pages
  • Freshness of the photos
  • Posts that are pinned to your profile
  • Messaging that is current and contextualized

Prune (deactivate or delete) profiles that you no longer intend to maintain or do not control
If you come upon a profile that purports to be your organization, is inaccessible or outside of governance, take note. You will want to round those up and deal with them. Most platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) have guidance on how to report accounts like this.  Anything you can’t control (but should) – try to get shut down.

Once you have updated your social media profiles, it’s time to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • Who is your audience?
    Before we can create content, we have to know who we are creating it for. It is common to have more than one audience to communicate with, so it is important to understand each one individually. You can go so far as building out personas for each audience, or simply understanding who your customers are most likely to include.

  • Where is your audience?
    We also need to know WHERE to put this content we are creating so that the people who need to see it do actually see it. Identify which social media platforms are most popular with your intended audience(s) and where you should focus your efforts.

  • What does your audience want?
    Is the content we are creating what your audience is interested in or looking for? Does it capture their attention or keep them engaged? While the content you create needs to serve your goals and objectives, it also has to resonate with your audience(s).

  • What do you want from your audience?
    What are you trying to get in return? Do you want them to click through to your website or visit your location? Are you looking for newsletter sign-ups? It is important to have a clear call-to-action for each of your posts. Focusing your strategy around what you most need will bring the greatest return on your investment.

  • How do you want your company or organization to be perceived?
    It’s important to understand the voice and tone of your company or organization. Ask yourself if the content you are creating positions your organization the way it needs to.

You don’t have to be everywhere
I want to stress that it is not required to have a profile on every platform. In fact, it’s not even advantageous. An outdated profile can be far more damaging than simply no profile at all.

Consider your strengths, your budget, your team. Focus these on doing something well rather than doing all things not so well.  Start with the platforms where your audience already is and put your efforts there. When you feel like you have the resources or energy to move forward, start adding platforms where (and as) appropriate.

Take a look at your peers – heroes – even your competition
Take some time to identify both competitors and peers, as well as aspirational organizations or brands, that you believe to be successful or dynamic on social media. 

Be an educated observer.

Look for things getting traction—a lot of likes, comments, shares— and ask if it’s something you can do, or do better.

Review your existing content
If you’ve done any work at all on social media, check to see how that content has performed. If something got a lot of engagement (likes, shares or comments), that’s good content. Maintaining a list of good content will make it easier later, when you plan your content calendar, go back to your best content and fill in the calendar.

Know which metrics matter
There are a lot of areas to track performance in social media campaigns, but you need to know which metrics are most important to your organization and make sure to track those. Generally, engagement, awareness and conversion are the top areas to monitor as they can best help you understand what is, and is not, working.

Now what?
At this point, we have an idea of what has or has not worked and our channels are ready to receive fresh content. We know the answers to the key questions. We are ready to make a plan.

Approach what follows like you would a yoga class. Make modifications based on your comfort level, resources, and budget. You can dive deeper in some areas, and gloss over others, depending on your needs.

Next, we plan.

Want to take your social media strategy to the next level? Contact us for a demo to see how Inkbench can streamline your workflow and reduce your costs.