social media strategyIt is a given that your business needs a presence on social media. The benefits are simply too great to ignore. It is also a fact that you cannot simply launch a social media marketing plan without a strategy in place.

So, what exactly are the crucial elements of a social media strategy that will serve to take your business to the next level? Let us find out.

 1. Know your objectives: You need a clear answer to the question – what’s your purpose for being on social media? Only by having a clear idea of what your purpose is will you be able to formulate a strategic plan. For instance, “To provide our customers with timely customer service 24/7.”

2. Know your audience: Know where your audience is and establish a presence there. You don’t have to be on every social media platform out there. If your product or service is aimed at industry professionals, the best returns may be realized by focusing on platforms such as LinkedIn and Slideshare. If you’re in the travel space it may be Facebook and Pinterest.

3. Measure your performance: You should be able to define and measure your activities on social media. Success in achieving your objectives depends upon wise decision-making based on quantitative and qualitative analytics. Are you getting enough shares and retweets? Do your contests, discount-related announcements and promotions create the expected buzz? Are you achieving the targeted ROI on your ad spend on social media? Again, set goals for each measurable and gather the info that’s going shape how you evolve your campaigns. These need to be actionable metrics.

4. Keep your ears to the ground: The audience you engage with and your competitors that are on social media will tell you a lot about the direction in which the wind is blowing. Learn from the information and signals that emanate from social media. You have to be sharp and informed enough to predict scenarios and pre-empt situations.

5. Create a USP (Unique Selling Proposition): If you wish to stand out in the crowd and get noticed, you need to be able to project yourself in a unique and memorable way. Give your audience a reason to check out your company, and then to engage with you. It could be price, it could be a gap in your niche that you fill, it could be a special experience or it could be a location-specific advantage.

6. Develop a content marketing plan: You communicate with your audience via content. Initial research coupled with an idea about the kind of message you wish to deliver will inform you on the nature of content you should employ. Data and experience will reveal more on what works best and for which situation. What type of content drives leads? Which posts elicit maximum likes, shares, retweets? What does your audience profile reveal about content preferences? Once you have the data and customer feedback, tweak your editorial and publishing guidelines accordingly.

7. Know what not to share: From the outset, your social media strategy should be clear on the nature of information that can be shared with all, information that should come out only when the time is right, and details that are not to be shared. Poor adherence to this strategic aspect can very easily hand over competitive advantage to your rivals. News of a high profile appointment, an expansion, withdrawal of a product, financial information, and personal details of employees are examples to consider.

Remember, hope is not a strategy. Define your own success criteria and start working toward it. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the beginning. The worst thing you can do is nothing, so get out there and start experimenting. The returns could be extraordinary!

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