Do you have a social marketing strategy? If you’re not sure, then you probably don’t. Do you know the difference between a strategy and a tactic? If you aren’t sure about either question, this article will steer you in the right direction.

Imagine, Inc. is brought into a new social marketing initiative for one of two reasons:
1) A company realizes the value of social marketing, and they want to proceed with expert guidance, or
2) A company has dabbled in social marketing with poor or no results.

social media strategy artIn all cases, our discussions start with the company’s marketing strategy. A strategy itself is probably one of the hardest concepts to define or explain, and many marketers struggle with how to create one. Without a clear definition, the strategy too often becomes a goal with a list of tactics. Yes, goals are one element, but they are only part of the picture, and a list of tactics without a strategy becomes just an exercise without the means to measure results.

When a company has a marketing strategy, our first job is to see if is in alignment with their business strategy. Because marketing and communications strategies are a subset of the business strategy, the lack of business alignment is the cause of social media campaign failure.

Perhaps the easiest differentiation between strategy and tactics is that strategy is the ‘what’ and tactics are the ‘how.’  What is your business trying to accomplish? Sales are part of most equations, but what are your plan, timeline, and goals to position your company for better sales? With those answers, you will be in the best position to choose the most appropriate tactics.

marketing strategy chartWith the “What & How” concept in mind, let’s consider these three levels of business strategy as a guide to the planning process. These levels will directly impact your communication and your social marketing.

  1. Corporate strategy – this level answers the question about what your company is trying to accomplish. Is it retrenchment, stability, or growth?
  2. Business unit strategy – this level addresses how your company wants to compete. Will your business strategy for growth be through market penetration, or diversification, or product and service development?
  3. Market strategy – with the first two levels defined we can better choose the tactics that will accomplish those goals.

Your objective should be to create a social media marketing campaign that assures organizational alignment with your company’s communications strategy which in turn supports the company business strategy.

Here are a few questions to help you define your social media strategy.

  • What is your overall business strategy
  • Determine what strategies social media should be in alignment with:
    – Communications
    – Marketing
    – Human resources
    – Customer service
  • Ask what do you want people to experience and do when they interact with your company online
  • Determine if your strategy is reactive or proactive. Will you wait for people to find you or will you actively seek them out?
  • Where do your prospects hang out?
  • What are your prospects conversations?

There are more considerations to developing a social media strategy and discipline is required to stay focused on the essentials to achieve organizational alignment. With these answers in hand choosing and executing tactics will be clear and measurable. Too often conversations stray from strategic, ”how will social media achieve organizational objectives?“ to tactical, ”we should be on Facebook.” Tactics are just a lot more fun.

Let’s say your social strategy is to focus on two goals: client/prospect engagement and brand awareness. Everything in your plan should relate to those two goals. Anything outside of that focus will be distractions spinning you in too many directions and ending up going nowhere. A well thought-out strategy creates a road map that can keep everyone on track with measurable results.

Missing from the social media strategy questions is who will drive your social marketing initiative. If your company is too small for internal execution, we are here to help at any stage of the process. We help businesses develop their social marketing strategy and we can be part of your implementation team, or we can do it all.

Call us at 954-257-7066 to get off the ground with our free audit of your social media marketing. Our research also analyzes what your competition is doing.

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