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How to create a social media strategy for your business

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A common social media mistake that many businesses make is rushing to create a Facebook page or Twitter feed without proper planning. The result can be wasted resources and poor results. A social media strategy is essential if your investment is going to pay off.

Here is a checklist of the key elements of a social media strategy.

Goals

With the help of key employees, determine the main goals of your social media presence. Are they to attract more customers? Boost recognition of your brand? Improve customer service? Based on your goals, decide how you’ll measure your social media success (e.g. number of visits, number of followers and comments, how much your content is being shared, number of new sales leads, etc.) and set targets.

Audience

Determine your target audience and its receptivity to various social media platforms. Focus your initial social efforts on platforms your audience likely uses most, experimenting as you go.

Content strategy and key messages

Think about what kind of content will appeal to your target audience. Shoot for a balance of entertaining and educational material. Above all, avoid being overly self promotional—hard selling is a huge social media no-no.

How do you develop your key messages? Use your market knowledge and research, organize a focus group, or seek professional advice. But don’t rely only on intuition, which could be misleading.

Engagement

Your content should encourage your fans and followers to engage with your company and ultimately become or remain your customers. To do so, it should present the human side of your business and provide followers with benefits such as information, advice or entertainment.

Periodically, you can go further and make direct calls to action—asking people to purchase a new product, take advantage of a special offer or sign up for your newsletter.

Social media action plan

Now you’re ready to create your action plan. Who will do what? Tasks to assign in your company include monitoring social media traffic, creating content, and posting to your sites and other social media sites. Allocate adequate resources to employee training, and consider hiring a social media manager. And be sure to communicate your social strategy to employees, working to secure the buy-in of staff, from top managers on down.

Publishing schedule

The lifeblood of social media is regular updates. Without them, you won’t build the kind of engagement with your followers that you’re looking for. Work out a publishing schedule, specifying how often each of the platforms will be updated and by whom.

Take stock of your existing digital assets. Interesting content that readers find useful is critical in building your social media following. But you don’t have to create all your content from scratch. You may have a lot in your files to get you started. Keep in mind, however, that existing content will only take you so far. Successful companies usually create fresh material geared specifically to each social media platform.

Follow up

Monitor your efforts to ensure you’re hitting your targets. Also, revisit and update your social media strategy regularly.


This article was adapted from BDC’s eBook, Social media: A guide for entrepreneurs.

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