Not Your Grandma's Social Strategy Blueprint!
At first small business owners and entrepreneurs may be a bit intimidated by social media. They know they need to be utilizing social media, they may know a few reasons why, but at first, it's a bit foreign. When you find out a bit more about actually engaging on social media, many find the details a bit overwhelming!
This post is meant to break things down into a do-able plan and help you create a "social business." Following the steps, it will actually take you all the way into 2014, and your business will go from, "Oy, social media!" to other people saying, "Wow - you really rock the social mediasphere!"
A Map Of Sorts
Lets assume you already have a terrific website with an active blog. You've established your online embassy, and understand that social networks are outposts leading people back to your website.
For some, the plan below may seem an nontraditional route, but the 12-step social strategy blueprint will help you build a solid foundation that you can replicate to build your online presence with other social platforms in the future.
A 12 Step Program
The only things we'll "detox" are any thoughts that social media is hard. This is a 12-step you'll want to enter!
#1 - Look Within Your Organization
Evaluate your resources, size up your human talent.
Two questions to ask:
- Who can help you reach your goal of being a "social business?"
- Who is the right person to host your brand's online party?
Social media is your route to building a community. A community of people that will positively share your brand's message. Building online community is a lot like hosting a party.
As you keep that in mind, begin to gather ideas about social media from your human talent. Check their ideas with your thoughts. Do they realistically fit well?
If you are a solopreneur, you will need to perform a self-evaluation on your ideas and abilities. Consult trusted individuals to give you accurate feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. In any case, you may need to adjust original thoughts to those that support the reality of your goals and resources, or consider hiring a bit of help for training.
#2 - Research
We're talking due diligence. There is not a one-size-fits-all social media strategy out there. Each business will benefit from engaging on different set of social platforms.
Just because Twitter works well for one business or industry, does not mean it is optimal for all. The same for any other social network.
Look at your business, your business type, and examine what social platforms support your brand goals. If you're an interior designer with lots of photos of your work, you'll want to be on networks that support visual exchange, like Pinterest and Instragram. Real estate agents and consultants would benefit from Google+, where exchange of information is higher and interaction is highly tied to being found in the search engines.
What social networks fit both your goals and your brand talents?
#3 - Spy & Explore
That's right -- Spy on your competition! Find out what they're doing online. Note their strengths and weaknesses. Keep this on file, and log notes continually over time. Decide where you can flourish. Plan to do well what they do not.
This is also a good time to set up your chosen social profile. Come up with skeleton prose that can be duplicated later on other social networks. Establish a basic presence that can be tweaked when you're really ready to jump in. Invite trusted contacts as your initial audience.
Experiment with posting. Try different styles and explore various types of media: written word, graphic images, and sound & video files. See what works; fail fast and move on.
#4 - Thought Leaders
A thought leader is someone who has a solidly established online presence and is revered for their success on social networks.
At this point, you probably have gained some idea of who some well-respected brands and individuals are for your niche. If you have not begun to engage with them, now is a great time to get to know them, learn from them, and see if there are any opportunities for meaningful collaboration.
Continue to tweak your profile or page to polish your online presence, as well as your posting style. Look for best times, so you can catch your audience when they are online.
#5 - Author Elsewhere
Author posts and articles on websites, blogs, and in print that are considered authority outlets for your industry niche. Are any of the influencers of Step 4 willing to work with you?
Here, you will spread brand awareness, collaborate to promote, and share on your chosen social network. It is not necessary to that all of your efforts be published in this month, but that the arrangements are being made to make your cameo appearances. This should become a consistent, continual process to arrange going into the future.
Start with six. Build from there.
#6 - Editorial Calendar
Don't think I'm suggesting not to have a plan before this point, but previous experimentation with posts will assure you can make a year plan with less adjustments to be made going forward.
All sound social strategies include an Editorial Calendar. Britt Michaelian, a "momprenuer" has outlined solid points and great ideas for formulating a good editorial calendar. If you really like it, bookmark it for reference.
If you work with a lot of graphics and visuals, you may want to try Trello to map out a content plan. This platform will let you organize categories, to-do lists, and also store image files.
#7 - Balance
Now that you have a running start and an editorial calendar, nail your brand appearance online. Invite your key people to interact as ambassadors to your brand to nurture a know/like/trust factor. Focus on getting them to interact regularly. Even have a plan of who will discuss certain topics or perform specific functions. Create their niche within your social strategy.
Establishing the know/like/trust factor means being a source of good information and bringing value to your audience. The type of information you present makes a difference. If you are broadcasting "me-me-me" messages, it won't be long before people tune you out, and your social efforts fizzle.
A good recipe to follow: 80% credible sources in your industry niche and 20% your content.
#8 - Analytics
Now that you have made your path to credible posting habits, it's time to check your work. You may have begun utilizing this information before now, and if so, that is great.
Many use Google Analytics to track clicks on links and traffic to websites. This is a great tool. You may also want to look at results from the social network itself. You will use this information to post when and what your audience prefers. Let numbers guide your path.
#9 - Focus On Your Fans
The whole reason you hopped on to social media was to attract followers and build relationships. As the host to a long-term social party, what better way to make your "guests" feel loved is to feature them.
Give them a chance to shine in the spotlight. Ask their opinions and preferences, and bring them what they want after they tell you. Show them in pictures, share their successes. Be creative here. People see through artificial - even online - so do this in a way that comes natural to you and your organization.
#10 - Spotlight Hot Stuff
Remember in Step 5 when you were authoring elsewhere? Now it's time to collaborate a bit to offer your gracious collaborators some good vibes in return.
Feature experts in your niche. Give your fans and followers access to highly sought-after information. Remember, you want to offer value. Amp up your game & hone in on the know/like/trust factor.
#11 - Share The Wealth
Here you head to the top of your class.
Share others' information in the same way you share information that solidifies your brand. Share niche authority with your colleagues & contemporaries. Create multiple lines to your brand by offering helpful case studies, infographics, and even create products that will further establish your own credibility.
Share this strategically with your audience, including your key people, and observing the 80/20 rule.
#12 - R.O.A.D.
"Rip Off And Duplicate." No worries -- Emulate your own previous work!
Take the road you followed here, and re-create the process to step onto another network. Your choice should allow you to bring a different demographic into your sales funnel. You may choose to create a fun new type of content.
As you branch out, include sharing content between networks. Encourage multiple ways that you are connected with your followers, and create new ways to connect with prospective followers. This becomes a catalyst for moving your following through the sales funnel.
Your Social Strategy Blueprint
If you've followed the steps above, you will be working over a year to create a terrific online presence on one social network. This will give you a solid foundation to let blossom as you step onto new platforms.
Optimally, at the end of twelve months any overwhelm will be gone, and people will be complimenting you on your efforts and what you have accomplished.
12 steps in 2013
Did I forget anything above?
Do you have questions about any of the twelve steps?
Please let me know if the comment box below...
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Your Link Building Blueprint for 2013
I am the Founder and CMO of Idea Girl Media - A Social Media Marketing Agency that works with business brands, non-profits & public figures to achieve social media success and positive online reputation. I am humbled to have received a 2013 Small Business Influencer Honorable Mention Award, and a commendation for Outstanding Attainment in Social Media from the State of Ohio Senate. My insight has also been featured at Social Media Today, SteamFeed, AOL Small Business, as well as Forbes and Business Insider. Non-fat lattes, travel & quick wit make me smile, and I am always enthused to meet new people!