Social Media Strategy: Look for successes AND Failures

When planing a social strategy, we want to consider:
Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
When? When will you evaluate the social media strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

Beantin webbkommunikation / / CC BY-SA

As we prepare for a social campaign strategically, one of the first, and arguable most important steps we take is identifying what we will measure, and how. These directly correlate with our set objectives. I make sure to stress to my graduate social media marketing students that we will not (and should not) simply measure our social presence, or the number of fans and followers of our profiles on various platforms and blog. Social media revolves around the notion of engagement, not just activity. Engagement with your social network or tribes will ultimately be affected by the perception of “value” in what you post or share. Via social, I have surrounded myself with like-minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter I follow because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce. This holds true for B2B and B2C social relationships as well.
Measure and Review

Measuring value makes significantly more sense than passive “likes” and quantity of followers. Measuring value can be done by considering “action”. What actions occurred because of value offered: Did visitors to the blog subscribe? Did a subscriber convert to a customer? Was a donation made (non-profits)? Did Facebook fans or Twitter followers share content from the blog? These build sustainable relationships that for businesses can increase revenue.

Clear, specific objectives, and measurable KPI’s need to be identified early on. Over time, effective social reporting can illuminate the impact (or lack thereof) of social media actions on customer activity. There are several very useful dashboards that give the user the ability to track and measure multiple platforms. Such as Hootsuite and Google Analytics (two of my top 3) Others worthy of mention (various levels of analysis and reporting) for you all to consider are:
Buffer (one of my top 3)
Facebook Pages Manager App
LinkedIn’s Skills and Expertise page (formerly known as Pinerly)

Measurement is an ongoing process, compare numbers weekly, or for some monthly. Plans must be flexible and be easily modified based on results and analysis.

Analyze Social Actions to Identify what Works and Identify New Opportunities

Look for the successes as well! Of course, acknowledging failures is a great learning tool, but identifying successes allows you to also identify possible opportunities you may be overlooking. Also consider missed opportunities. Both missed and overlooked opportunities are most often a result of lack of monitoring and/or engagement. Social media is two-way dialogue. Listening and replying when appropriate are key! Consider a classic missed opportunity to engage during Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s speech and sip of Poland Springs Water in February 2013. This was a huge missed opportunity for the brand to engage with the public, tweets that included the terms ‘Rubio’ and ‘water’ peaked at 57,466 mentions. This particular case would be best addressed in real time, but other not so obvious opportunities can be missed such as the opportunity to create loyal customers, nurture brand advocates, or even benefit from un-intentional crowdsourcing of ideas on a Facebook page.

By systematically reviewing data and comparing it, brands are better able to understand their fans, followers, and customers. In the case of my MBA students and our blog, previous semesters have found many opportunities for our “brand” to flourish! For example, some blog posts were shared and commented on more than others. By reading the comments carefully it identified a topic our readers really were interested about and wanted to know more about. We also looked at what posts were shared more on Twitter than others. It was found that some of our posts were more shareable than others.

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