By Alexandra Reid
I am a fortunate community manager because I get to both write social media strategies and carry them through. This seamless process allows me to have a firm grip on the day-to-day online activities of our clients with the foresight to effectively steer these activities to reach long-term goals.
While it is beneficial to have a team of professionals that handle the areas of social media in which they are specialised, there are some major obstacles to this approach, especially for new ventures that do not have bottomless budgets to devote to the cause. For social media to be planned and carried out in house requires a dramatic reorganization of the departments that would handle the accounts (usually a battle between marketing and sales) as well as a huge commitment of time and resources. Alternatively, if you wish to outsource social media to a large agency, you run the risk of paying a small fortune for senior professionals to handle your accounts, while, unbeknownst to you, the bulk of the tasks are handed down to the juniors.
The harmonious balance, in our case, is a consolidation of the responsibilities of a social media strategist and community manager under one job title. This is an affordable and effective solution for startups and small businesses that want to commit professionally to social media without draining their marketing budgets dry. In my position, I am able to have both macro- and micro-level views of a client’s social media plan, enabling me to do both jobs effectively and efficiently. Our responsibility to a client is largely dependent on its internal resources for social media. If a client can take on social media internally, we would develop a strategy and provide ongoing assistance to ensure it is followed effectively. The role of community manager could also be shared between client and agency.
To properly develop a strategy requires an intimate understanding of the client, its social media objectives, budget for reaching these goals and the specific processes that will be carried out to reach them. Having this intimate knowledge of a client’s strategy allows me to steer online management, monitoring and measurement activities to reach their goals. Also, being able to see a social media account from every vantage point allows me to provide a wealth of personalised knowledge resulting from the experience of managing an entire account from its inception, which could be shared with the client to provide insight into what they are doing well and what needs improvement in daily activities and long-term strategy. As I said in an earlier post, it should be no mystery how an agency carries out its clients’ social media work.
I’d be happy to debate with you on this subject, as I understand it is highly contested. Feel free to offer your comments in the box just a little south of here.
That all being said, let’s get into what you came here for:
How to write a social media strategy:
Before you get into your strategy, you must first ask yourself a few questions. Chris Brogan was bang on when he said that you must begin writing your strategy with the end in mind. There are a variety of ways you could ask yourself these questions, but I think Ignite Social Media does a great job of summing them up:
- What do you want to gain from a social media plan?
- What does your business offer that people want to discuss?
- What’s your current business model and how can social impact that?
Writing a strategy: The basics of what should be included:
Forrester’s POST methodology is quite helpful in the beginning stage of writing a strategy. Each strategy I write is tailored to the specific needs of the client and so can’t be listed in full here. However, I have built on each section of this methodology to include some key points that should be included in any strategy:
- Who are you? This report should include an analysis of what it is you could offer your community and why they would be interested.
- Who is your audience? It should also include whom your target community is, where they reside online, how they interact with others and what they care about.
- Who is your competition? A competitive analysis must also be included covering your competitors and what they are doing with social media.
- This is where you set out your goals determined by answering the preliminary questions. You could also determine your goals by looking at the successes of your competition and others in social media as well as reports and other key benchmarking data. organisations such as Marketing Sherpa, Marketing Profs and Forrester are great for providing this kind of information.
- How do you plan to engage an audience? This section should include your content strategy, which should lie out your editorial plan for at least the next few months. Who will be in charge of developing this content, sharing it and responding to engagement? How often will content be developed and shared? How often will channels be monitored and updated? What kind of training is required for these people to know how to use new tools effectively? Where will the information for the content come from?
- It should also include your strategy for measuring success. What will you monitor? How will you monitor? What are your key performance metrics? What are your benchmarks? In detail, how will you collect and analyse the data?
- Channels: A detailed account of what each channel will offer, the short term and long-term benefits of using these channels and the effectiveness of each channel.
- Monitoring and management tools: Assess the tools available and determine which ones work best for you.
Carrying it through: What you need to consider
Determining who will carry the strategy through requires a thorough analysis of your internal resources, budget and the qualifications of the agencies you could pursue. Developing a detailed strategy will help you determine the level of commitment you could award social media internally. In your strategy, you must assess your budget for each of your activities. How much will monitoring, management and analytics cost over the long run? How much will it cost to employ social media tools? Will I have to hire new employees to manage these accounts? How much time and resources will I have to dedicate to educating my team on new tools and techniques? How much would an agency cost? What can they take on and what kind of a commitment do they require we take on? All these questions are vital to determining if you can carry out social media yourself, or if you need to hire outside assistance. Your strategy should be a paint by numbers for carrying it through. It if isn’t, you have not included enough detail.
This post covers the bare bones of strategy development and execution, so if you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to ask using the comment section below, or by contacting us directly