How to Develop a Social Media Strategy

Article submitted by Lindsay Hunt of Lindsay Hunt Media.

Most businesses start their social media efforts without a critical element for success. They have custom Facebook pages and Twitter backgrounds. They created a LinkedIn Company page and are connecting with users on Google+.

So what's missing?

Businesses need to define their social media strategy before creating profiles and posting updates. The strategy informs where you spend your time, what you share and how you go about building your social media presence.

Many businesses create Facebook pages or Twitter accounts and expect customers to magically appear. They're disappointed when they create their accounts and don't see any activity. Social media can help you expand your reach and develop a community around your business or brand, but you need to approach it strategically if you want to see results. 
Social media strategies look different for each business. You can start crafting your own strategy by answering the following questions:

1. What business objectives do you hope to achieve with social media?

If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time. The first step to seeing results with your social media efforts is to figure out how social media can help your business.

Some businesses share articles, tips and information to educate their fans.

You might want to drive traffic to your website where people can find out more about your services.

Your business may want to share photos and interesting information in order to reach new customers through referrals.

There are a variety of different objectives you may have, but you need to get clear on what these are before you start. Your objectives inform all of your other strategic decisions about social media.

2. Who are you trying to reach?

The next step is to think about who you're trying to reach. If you're an assisted living facility, you probably want to reach adult children, not seniors specifically. Maybe you're focused on a specific demographic or geography. Get very specific about who you're talking to so that you can determine what content to share with them to help you reach your objectives.

3. Given your business objectives, on which social media sites do you need to create an active presence?

You don't need to be active on every social media site. You should focus on using the ones that will help you achieve your business objectives. If you're a business that targets other businesses, you might focus on LinkedIn and Facebook and ignore Twitter. If you want to share photos and videos of events at your Adult Daycare, Facebook will be a better place for you to connect with your customers. If you have the time and resources to build a dynamic presence everywhere, great.

If you have limited time, the key is to figure out where your customers or target audience spend time and interact with them there.

4. How will social media integrate into your other marketing initiatives?

Social media shouldn't replace your other forms of advertising. You may decide to reallocate spending as you see results from your online presence, but it's important to note that social media isn't the same as online advertising.

You may have seen companies on Facebook that only talk about themselves all the time. They want you to buy their new product, they only talk about their events, they're always selling to you. If you're like most people, you're not very interested in their content. You want to connect with businesses that share information that's relevant to you.

Social media enables businesses to create online communities that encourage two-way communication, reshares, comments and interactive discussion. You can certainly promote the activities, services and events, but if you're using Facebook as a form of "free advertising", you're not approaching it with the right mentality.

Think about how to integrate social media into your other marketing efforts. Put social media URLs on your print advertising or online advertising. Link to your social profiles in the monthly email newsletter. Post signs in your facility that encourage people to connect online.

Social media shouldn't be separate from your other marketing, but it should complement it and integrate with it.

5. What information will you share?

Once you know what you're trying to accomplish and who you're trying to reach, you need to figure out what to say. There are a variety of types of content you can post: photos, videos, links to blogs, contests, fan generated content, coupons, company updates, FAQ, etc. You'll likely want to share a combination of all of these types of content.

It's helpful to create a content calendar that determines what to post and when to post it. Make sure to include a mixture of different types of content so you can reach people in different ways. Only posting links to your company blog won't be very engaging, but if you mix those links in with videos and pictures, your fans will stay interested.

6. How will you measure your results?

You need to measure your results in order to know whether you're making progress towards the objectives you set in the beginning. The problem with social media isn't finding enough data to measure. It's sorting through all the many types of data available to figure out what will help you understand your results.

Unlike traditional forms of advertising like TV commercials and print advertising, you can measure the results of what you're doing online. If something isn't working, adjust your tactics and revise your strategy. The real time data allows you to be quick and nimble with your adjustments.

7. Who is responsible?

When you have an event, who is responsible for marketing it on Facebook? Who takes photos and posts them after the event? Who writes blog posts and tweets and manages your Facebook advertising?

This can be one of the biggest challenges for businesses who can't dedicate a full-time staff member to focus on social media. You have other tasks you need to complete and can't spend your whole day focusing on social media.

As you're figuring this out in your organization, think about what type of time investment is necessary to see success. Think about whether it makes sense to outsource part of your tasks to someone else. Create an action plan. There are many social media tools that can help you get more efficient with your management, but someone needs to take charge of implementing the strategy.

About the Author and Lindsay Hunt Media

Need help with your social media strategy? Lindsay Hunt Media can help you develop a customized strategy for your organization. If you don't have time or resources to execute the strategy online, we can help you manage your social media presence on an ongoing basis. For more information, contact Lindsay / 303-335-9454 /

© 2012, All Rights Reserved by Lindsay Hunt, Lindsay Hunt Media