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How to develop your best social media strategy

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Social media can feel overwhelming sometimes.

Faced with so many social networks and tools, it can be difficult to decide how best to use our limited resources. Should you be on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? If you have limited time, what should you be doing there?

Each person and business is going to use social media slightly differently depending on the nature of their business and their objectives. Rather than prescribe a universal set of actions for everyone, over the next several weeks, I am going to suggest five key distinctions that can help you prioritize what you should be doing with social media and why.

First, I’ll talk about the relationship between your social media tactics and your social media strategy. I will ask you to think about what you do on social networks versus why you do it.

Let’s get started.

Tactics vs. strategy

Social media without a strategy is like having a map and compass but no destination.

Many businesses become active on social media without a clear reason as to why they’re doing it and how it will help them achieve their goals. Maybe your business falls in this category. Perhaps you’ve set up a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business. Or you’ve been persuaded to start blogging. These can all be very worthwhile tactics to employ. But you must first answer the most important question: Why should you invest time and resources here? If you can’t explain why you’re doing what you’re doing in social media, you will never know if you succeed.  

Start with questions like these: Are your clients demanding to connect with you Facebook? Do you want to build your reputation as a thought leader? Do you want to connect with local online business networks?

Perhaps you’ve started along a social media path when you should be buying pay-per-click online advertising instead. Or perhaps you’ve positioned yourself perfectly to achieve your goals. You won’t know this until you ask the right questions.

Build your strategy before choosing tactics

Developing a social media strategy is not as complicated as it is often made out to be. Basically, your strategy should be informed by what you’re trying to accomplish for your business and your brand. Consider the following:

  1. Who is your target market? Describe in great detail who you want to reach through social networking. Try to develop a detailed persona for each type of person in your target market, including their age, life status, likes and dislikes.
  2. What do they care about? Note that I’m not suggesting that you focus on what YOU want to tell your target market about your business. Instead, focus on what topics your target market cares about and how you can help them get what they want.
  3. Where do they spend time online? Is Facebook the network of choice for your target market, or do they prefer LinkedIn? Do they use email or text messaging to communicate with each other? Are they active Twitter users that appreciate the value of thought leadership? Your answers to these questions will influence which tools you should use to reach your market.
  4. When are you going to find time for social networking? I have yet to meet a financial professional who says they have time on their hands. Everyone is always busy. But you find time to do the things that matter in your business. If social engagement is going to make a difference in your business, you’re going to have to find the time to invest in it.
  5. Why do you want to engage in social networking? Everyone wants new leads in order to grow their business — but that’s an outcome, not a strategy. Perhaps you want to grow your online network and strengthen your personal brand. Perhaps you want to attract a younger prospect or recruit. Perhaps you want to be seen as a thought leader around a particular topic. Whatever your reason, your answer to why you’re doing social will anchor your entire strategy.

Next up: Paid vs. Owned vs. Earned Media – Understanding the power of earned media.

For more from Jay Palter, see:

How to overcome 4 real barriers to social media engagement


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