Most people don’t plan to fail: they fail to plan.
~ John L. Beckley
I often hear this quote, but usually in the context of financial planning for kids’ college funds, retirement funds or even rainy day funds. This quote rings true within any aspect of our lives, when you start thinking about it. For example, have you ever attended, or even hosted, a lavish party which required the coordination of a venue, menus and entertainment? Would the party turn out differently if you had decided to just wing it, rather than plan the event? Probably so. Some social media marketers treat online marketing like a huge, never-ending party - but they do so without a social media strategy in place. Are they planning to fail? Probably not.
People who jump into social media marketing without a plan may either be ignoring - or may just be ignorant of - an important marketing fundamental. The fundamental? Remembering that a large difference exists between tactics and strategy. The tactics used in social media marketing are certainly fun and “sexy.” They make the “party” seem real and tangible. Creating a social media strategy seems very boring in comparison. No doubt, planning a party is usually not as much fun as the party itself, but it’s certainly necessary to make the party successful. Otherwise, you end up with a lot of disappointed people.
In many ways, creating a social media strategy is a lot like planning a big party. Organizations should create a social media strategy which not only meets their needs, but also the needs of their clients. These are a few suggestions to get started with a basic social media strategy.
(1) Set Goals
Understand why your business is online and on social media platforms in the first place. Know the results you want to achieve. Goal-setting is one of the first things you should do as a business when forming a social media strategy. Without goals, your tactics will be a waste of time for your business as well as for your potential clients.
(2) Know Your Audience
In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of any social media strategy. Some marketers or business owners crave traffic more than engagement when first starting out. One huge rookie mistake I see is where a business creates and posts content having nothing to do with their target market’s interest. A solid social media strategy prevents alienation of an organization’s best audience(s) - it should help guide the business to where its audience is, what those people are talking about, and what their needs are. People prefer to engage with brands online during the buying process; being visible online and being available to them could make all the difference in whether they choose to do business with you or your competitors.
(3) Measure Your Results
How will you know what is working and what is not if you do not have some sort of measuring system in place? A crucial piece of a social media strategy is measuring your results. Whether it be the number of retweets your post gets on Twitter, or the number of shares your blog posts receive - you now have an idea of how well your messages are doing. Some organizations choose to spend a lot of time and money on analytics tools as part of their social media strategy. That is fine, but know that simpler and less expensive (and free) measurement systems work well, too.
Tactics are fine…but are much better when part of a well thought out social media strategy. Remember the party analogy I made at the beginning of this article? The host, as well as the party-goers, seem to have more fun when they have a strategy in place.
How are you planning for success with your social media marketing? I would love to hear what’s working for you.
Purple Stripe Productions: http://www.purplestripe.com/2013/social-media-strategy-vs-social-media-tactics
Image courtesy of JanPietruszka / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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