A lot of people and companies decide, after using social media for a while, that they need a strategy. Of course, that approach is like putting the cart before the horse. To ensure success, you should think about your social media strategy in the context of the seven Cs.

1. Community

Like all good communication, it is best to start by determining your target audience.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • How do they communicate on these social media channels?

Before your social media efforts can take shape, you should listen and learn about your community. For example, one of the top social media communities for a brand such as Oreo is Facebook. Their salute to the Mars landing was a huge hit with their Facebook fans. For a job seeker, he or she will most likely find his or her community on LinkedIn because 93 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates. Finding out where your community interacts on social media is the first step of a successful social media strategy. It is important to first determine what type of conversations are taking place about your brand and in your industry before engaging in a community or building a community from scratch.

2. Content

After you figure out how your community engages with social media, you should next figure out what content you are going to share with your followers. For example, if you are looking to grow your personal brand, what articles are you going to share to highlight your expertise about your job or personal interests? If you are a company, how can you show your clients and prospects that you are a thought leader or that you are trying to make their lives easier?

3. Curation

You can’t think about content, without mentioning curation. Curation is a way of sharing other people’s content. You should act like a museum curator does with art. Beth Kanter in her post Content Curation Primer says content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way. Rohit Bhargava in Manifesto for the Content Curator post defines a content curator as someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content a specific issue. Content curation is one of the easiest ways to share content because you don’t have to create anything. This leads well into the next C.

4. Creation

Creation is the act of creating content online, whether it be in the form of text, images or video. If you have posted a blog post, uploaded a video to YouTube or took a picture and posted it to Instagram, you are in the creation business. One of the ways to help you create content is to create an editorial calendar. It may be helpful to use this editorial calendar template. If you don’t like spreadsheets, then you may want to consider using an application such as Divvy. For the more advanced content creators, using a content marketing software platform such as Kapost should be something you consider. What is the sweet spot between content creation and content curation? According to research, the sweet spot of content curation to content creation is a 60/40 ratio: 60 percent content curation and 40 percent content creation.

5. Connection

After you have either curated and/or created content, the next C is the physical act of sharing content. This C is about connecting with your community and getting a deep understanding of what your target audience likes about your social media activities and strategy. Based on measurements and data, what content are your communities attracted to and willing to share with their friends and colleagues? Many brands today have created buyer personas so they can better understand and connect better with their target audience. In other words, personas are fictional representations of your ideal clients, based on real data about demographics, online behavior, along with educated assumptions about their history, motivations, and concerns. On the personal branding side, you may want to use one of these 10 free tools to manage your relationships online.

6. Conversation

This C is all about having a conversation with your community. This C is very similar to the community, but the important difference is the actual engagement part of communicating with your communities. To help you with this concept, learn the three key social media conversation starters.

7. Conversion

The seventh C is conversion. You can’t talk about social media without having a return on investment (ROI) conversation. The important thing to remember here is that your social media strategy should be tied to your business strategy. To help you get started, you may want to look at the 14 social media ROI metrics. When thinking about this from the company perspective, it is important to remember to look at it two ways: external view (clients, prospects, and partners) and internal view (employees).

To develop a successful social media strategy, it is important to communication, convince, and convert social media into action. Whether your social media metrics are at your company, they will boil down to three main categories: awareness, sales, and loyalty. On the personal branding side, social media is a way to help you advance your career—whether it be successfully climbing the corporate ladder or launching a successful business. You can judge the success of your personal social media strategy by whether or not you are top of mind with your network and whether it helps you get that interview or land that perfect job. One of the ways to maximize conversion with your social media strategy is to develop a social media maturity model. According to Forrester Research, there are five main stages of social media maturity and adoption.

More than 7 Cs

In conclusion, a successful social media strategy should include: finding and engaging your communities and/or building a new community; making sure you have the right mix of content curation and creation; connecting well with your community; having relevant and meaningful conversations; and converting on your goals.

The 4 Ps of successful marketing has grown to the 9 Ps of successful marketing so there are probably more than 7 Cs of a successful social media strategy. What Cs would you add to this list?

An earlier version of this post appeared on Knowledge Enthusiast.

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