Most of us are pretty close to convinced that we need to be on social media to market ourselves and our business. Some of you have put your toe in the water, polished up your LinkedIn account, maybe played around with Twitter. Perhaps you’ve set up a Facebook fan page and upload a video or two to Youtube. If you really love adventure, you are probably blogging about your industry. You’re doing what you can to get on top of it.
If you’re like many, the integration of the entire process remains a mystery. Having a cohesive plan to really use social media effectively has not yet solidified for you. Doesn’t this sound familiar?
Don’t feel alone if this is your story, because you’re not alone. I speak with dozens of well-intending business people who just don’t quite feel confident that they are doing all they can in social. If you’re a consultant or even working in a corporation, you see first hand the struggles both in and outside organizations trying to get their hands around using social media effectively.
To assist you, here is a 10 step process to create a great social media strategy. This post is rather extended, but it’s hopefully what you need to really begin to start sketching out how you will fully roll out social in a way that works. Take it step by step, go easy, and have some fun with it. You can do it if you are willing to start.
Step 1 – Decide What You Do & Know How What You Do is Unique
What do you do that no one else does better? Answer that today. Don’t be afraid to look at how others are doing what you do in your industry and do it better, differently, faster, easier, sooner. Don’t just focus on doing it cheaper – that’s a race to the bottom for commoditizing what you do and often a losing proposition. Try again if that’s all you come up with.
Understand the emotional payoff of your offering. A bed gives rest, not sleep. A security system gives peace of mind, not an alarm when an intruder attempts to break in. Get to the heart of what you give so that you can begin to know the heart of your consumer. That heart is what you’ll need to talk to via social.
Step 2 – Investigate Who Needs What You Do
You can do this several ways. You can review your past clients. You can understand the problems you solve and find people with that problem. You can ask. Asking is going to be a big part of developing your strategy and you need to exercise that muscle. Ask sooner, ask more often, and listen, listen, listen.
Step 3 – Research Who Influences Your Audience
You can deduce this logically in addition to simply asking. Are you marketing to 6 year olds or their mom? Are you marketing to men or their wives (who often wield huge amounts of influence to the actual purchase)? Stay aware of the people who surround your ultimate customer and know the differences in communication they might need to assist you in convincing a purchase.
Do the influencers enter the conversation directly before the credit card number is handed over or early on in the research stage? How you engage with these influencers on social can shift depending upon the answers you get.
Step 4 – Understand the Problems of Your Audience (and Their Influencer) & Discern Their Triggers
Every great sales process has objections to overcome. Answering these objections can be at the heart of your editorial calendar. You’re going to share information openly about how you solve problems. To get there, you need to fully understand the problems.
Once again, asking is big here but so is logical observation. It’s sort of the concept that no one admits to watching porn if you ask them, but as a multi-billion dollar industry, clearly lots of people do watch. You want to make conclusions from actions not just self-declared behaviors.
Uncover the real problems, their real causes, and the trigger events that bring the problem to that “need to solve now” stage. You’re over half way to a sale if you do.
Step 5 – Discover Where Your Audience Hangs out Online & Observe Their Languaging
You don’t fish in a desert. You don’t usually find camels at sea. If you (like me) are a Twitter freak, expecting that you will find everyone you need to connect with there is, well, unrealistic. Use search, polling, and empirical research to identify the key influencers and where they hang out and go where your audience is at already. Not everyone on LinkedIn even has a Twitter account.
Additionally, use the words your audience uses. Don’t get all tricky and clever, inventing new phraseology so you sound cool. Getting searchable traction on an invented phrase can be tough. Use the words your audience does to find you and to solve their problems. Being found by the right people is job #1.
Step 6 – Identify the Processes for How You Will Engage With Your Audience
What will happen to your sales intake process and lead follow up and conversion process if you are wildly successful? Will it cave in from the pressure? If so, fix that. Social will only enhance your revenue model if you understand what to do with new relationships.
Know the full process which new relationships will be handled – by whom doing what in which way. Make sure your sales staff, employees who are typically rewarded by sales close, understand and respect the lighter hand approach to the social process. Drive social ethics throughout your organization through scripting, processes, and training. Know your processes.
Step 7 – Determine How You Will Measure Your Success
Metrics are big for most executives and can potentially make or break your social media program. To derive ROI measurement from social, tie it to your revenue model, not things like Facebook likes and number of fans. Understand the lifetime value of your customer, the sales cycle, the per-transaction value, conversion rates, and retention numbers.
Create metrics that show cost savings, revenue development, and increased market share to really get the c-Suites attention. They don’t actually care how many friends you have on Facebook.
Step 8 – Commit to How You Will Integrate What You Learn
Your audience is talking about you and once you start listening, you’ll know first hand what they are saying. Taking that feedback and systematically incorporating it into your business is crucial to building your brand on social.
Engaging to push your message but then not responding to feedback will not work. At least, it won’t work well or for long. As a company, it
will be important to discuss and decide what the feedback and corrective action loop looks like it.
Step 9 – Identify Needed Resources
Survey your current employee base to see who’s into social, who’s doing it, and who can recommend resources. You will probably, in the least, need a dedicated social media manager. Get one sooner rather than later so they can help build the pieces of the puzzle we’ve discussed here. Use a contractor if you aren’t ready to commit to a full time resource. They can help you build the road map, determine the budget, and help you implement.
Step 10 – Plan on How You Will Build Culture and Community
Being on social media is about being social. Driving the tenets of social – openness, transparency, deep relationships, helpfulness, generosity, kindness – throughout your organization’s culture will be crucial. This will include creating and/or changing policies, creating learning opportunities, and leading.
There’s no short cut to this part. Know your brand and live your brand from start to finish in your process. This will be a marathon, not a sprint. Invest in your future by building a social culture.
Yes, It’s Called Work for a Reason
Social media takes time, talent, and resources. It’s also not going away. Do the work, do it well, and you will reap the benefits. And, yes, you can find dozens of fantastic, qualified social media professionals right here at SocialMediaClub.org. We do this for a living and are happy to help.
[graphic by jphilipg]