10 components of a social media strategy (Part I)

  • The 10 components of a social media strategy for your brand, starting with the first 5
  • Be clear about your objectives, do research … and make sure you have rules of engagement!

10 components of a social media strategy (Part I)THE C-suite and management teams have bought in to your idea. It’s been decided which department will ‘own’ social media (Marketing, PR, Communications – sometimes even IT).
 
Everyone understands that in-your-face marketing is a no-no and social media requires long-term commitment and resources. You’ve selected an agency or consultant to work with.
 
Exciting, isn’t it? I remember it felt like I was embarking on an adventure into the unknown back in 2010, so keep up the excitement because the fun is about to begin!
 
Strategy! What is a strategy? For the purpose of this article, I’m going to quote Michael E. Porter on strategy: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
 
Often easier said than done, let’s look at the 10 components of a social media strategy for your brand. I’ll start with the first five and the remaining five will be shared next week:
 
1) Be clear about your objectives:
 
What do you aim to achieve by being on social? Common objectives are listening to what your customers are saying about you (and your competitors), increasing positive sentiment, acquiring relationships, building brand presence, providing customer service and increasing traffic to your website (or other digital assets).
 
The advice here is simple folks, keep it SMART (you weren’t expecting this 1980s acronym, were you?): Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (sometimes Relevant) and Timely.
 
2) Do your research
 
I know it’s obvious but some clients completely skip this step. Read, read and read some more.
 
You’re probably not the first amongst your competitors to get into this space, so take a look around. What’s happening? How are they playing the game?
 
For example, if you compare how CIMB, Maybank and OCBC manage their presence on social, you’ll notice they’re quite different. Widen your scope and look at Chase in the United States or Commonwealth in Australia and you’ll see what I mean.
 
How do they manage customer complaints? What topics do they use to engage with their fans? Remember to look across industries as well for inspiration!
 
10 components of a social media strategy (Part I)3) Decide which platforms you need to be on
 
I like Porter’s quote because going out and creating a profile for your brand on every social media platform isn’t recommended! Very often brands are struck by excitement and someone in a planning meeting says: “Let’s create a profile for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Foursquare ...”.
 
Maybe you’re that guy? While that is a smart move (reserving an account on key platforms is a good idea to prevent ‘hostage’ situations where opportunists book the unique URLs and then wait for you to pay them), don’t rush off to start engaging on every platform.
 
The reason for this is simple: Being on every platform would not be the best use of your scarce resources! For most brands, the top three are sufficient – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

4) Content, functionality or both

Being successful on social media requires brands to provide engaging content. Period. Functionality as well, if you can.
 
Let me break it down for you – why do YOU go on social? Cat memes and stalking aside, most people get on social to connect with family and friends. That makes it tough for brands because like it or not, brands are secondary or not even important to users.
 
You need to provide content that will engage the majority of your fans; like I wrote before – content is queen, jack and king!
 
In addition, you need to know how Facebook’s EdgeRank works.
 
How do you decide what content your fans want? Survey or research followed by trial and error is the answer.  Ask your fans what they want; if you’re a subject matter expert, then perhaps information on that topic which can improve their lives will be valuable.
 
Come up with content pillars for each day; for example, Monday (Motivation), Tuesday (Fun), Wednesday (Quiz) … you get the drift.
 
The next step is to measure the performance of the content. Your research will tell you how to measure the performance. All of this will also help you decide your tone of voice on social media (keeping it as personal as possible is best in most cases).
 
Valuable functionality is important because that would encourage your fans to visit your page regularly. For example, CIMB Malaysia launched OctoPay on Facebook which allows users to transfer money to other OctoPay users (no more remembering account numbers FTW!), top up their mobile prepaid account, and more.
 
Isn’t that amazing? I think it is! So what functionality can you offer fans through social media? It has to be something special and different from what’s on your website, or provide an added incentive if it’s already on your website.  Read more about applications on Facebook to understand how this works.

10 components of a social media strategy (Part I)5) Rules of engagement 

I mentioned tone of voice above. What will it be for your brand? Fun? Friendly? Adventurous?
 
If your brand has a mascot, that would allow you to personify it on social. One remarkable example is Flo, the Progressive Girl. Ensure you have SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place to handle different types of posts from fans and followers – complaints, compliments, questions, etc.
 
What will you say in each case? It would be best to have an SLA (service-level agreement) with your customer service teams to provide prompt resolution timelines for complaints based on severity.
 
Check out ASB Bank’s Virtual Branch on Facebook for an example of customer service on social.
 
Jagdish Singh Malhi is an ex-banker turned marketing and communications specialist with a deep interest in brands using technology and data to meet business objectives, and has been on both sides of the client/ agency divide.

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