insider secrets: how to build a social media strategy

If you’ve been listening to all the buzzwords that circle around in social media, one stands taller than the rest: social media strategy.

Everyone is talking about it, and most people say you need a strategy.

While some may say the phrase is used too often, it is because strategy is the core of a plan to success.

You can’t get great results without knowing where you’re going (your goals and objectives). Your strategy is a map to get you to your destination—whether 100,000 followers or more engagement and leads.

If you desire success in any of the social medias, create a specific, actionable strategy and use it in your business.

Many blogs talk about the idea, yet few explain how social media strategy can be used with real business examples.

Let’s dive into a real life showcase of how to use a social media strategy for your business.

This “show and tell” will spark enthusiasm in your own business and inspire you to enter the social realm.

Social Media Strategies in Action

Create Clearly Defined Goals.

Let’s start with the core of any social media strategy: your goals. You must have clearly defined goals in place before you create any content.

If you are unaware of your destination, then it is impossible to get there. The solution? Create a solid goal based on your experience in your niche. This helps develop an effective plan for your social media marketing.

After you define your goal, create a list of tactics and actions that will lead you in the direction of your prize.

Real Life Example: Edinburgh West Police

Goal: Raise awareness for teens and personal security.

Strategy: Partner with influencer brands to reach the market in a fun, captivating and informative way.

Edinburgh West Police had a specific goal when they ran a campaign on Twitter. They wanted to help teenage Twitter users avoid being robbed. They teamed up with an influencer brand that had significant reach in the young market already: Lego. They worked together to create innovative tweets.

The Tweets are simultaneously educational and entertaining. They worked so well that they inspire kids and teens to share the tweets with their friends.

Outstanding content that is created natively for an audience can easily go viral.

Even the language in the tweet was constructed with the accent in mind, making it that much more entertaining.

Sometimes your goals need a refresher. Times change and social media platforms update frequently.

Audit Your System.

Social media platforms update and change frequently. One day a social media can be all the rage, and within a few short weeks the audience can change.

Everything is always changing on social medias. Brands are always adapting and changing to the pulse and condition of the market.

Consequently, this affects goals and strategies.

Occasionally goals become outdated. Your business or technology changes and you need to reassess your situation, strategy and tactics.

This happened to a number of established companies who were not prepared for how social media would change their business.

It will continue to happen, as mobile marketing becomes such a vital part of a brand’s marketing mix.

If you are sensing the need for a change, start by auditing your previous position. Then redefine the goals you believe are essential to your business.

In the past year, no one did that better than A-1 Sauce.

Real Life Example: A-1 Steak Sauce

Goal: Connect more intimately with users, and raise awareness for creative consumption of the sauce.

Strategy: Create entertaining video content to spark a discussion.

A-1 realized that by labeling themselves only as “A-1 Steak Sauce,” that they limited their audience to only steak-eaters.

They sought to bring more awareness to the variety of methods their audience could enjoy the tasty condiment.

They developed a video social campaign that was engaging. It stimulated a method for connecting with users.

The quick video created over 3,100 likes and 250 comments.

The effect went viral.

The free publicity alone has been a goldmine in promotional material for A-1. It all transpired because they needed a change, and they jumped at the opportunity to create an on-brand quirky video that captured their fans’ attention.

The viral video: From A-1 steaksauce

Create a Content Strategy that Wows.

One of the biggest components to social media marketing is solid content. The ability to not only to be interesting, but also informational can be a challenge.

Effective content strategies require a dose of creativity, and a real understanding of the audience (their worldviews, beliefs and values).

When it comes to effective content, few can compare with the original Dollar Shave Club video.

Real Life Example: Dollar Shave Club

Goal: Raise awareness for their monthly subscription product and create lifetime value with entertainment and humor.

Strategy: Create a unique, humorous commercial video advertisement with a strong value proposition.

Were they successful? Absolutely!

The video now has over 20 million views with over 100,000 likes, and 14,000 comments. It propelled the company, and generated the majority of the initial customers for their business.

Plus the “shave time, shave money” deal is fantastic as well!

Dollar Shave Club shows how your corporate ads can be entertaining, humorous and invigorating. There’s no need to be boring while informing customers why they should purchase your products.

Boring doesn’t sell—innovation does. Think of how you can do something entertaining and different for your own social media marketing efforts.

The humor combined with the information is a great textbook example of how to create viral content.

Create Community Engagement and Involvement.

A few years ago, National Geographic wanted to celebrate their 125th anniversary. A monumental accomplishment, the folks at Nat Geo knew they had to do something special.

Real Life Example: National Geographic

Goal: Celebrate the 125th anniversary in an innovative way that encourages community engagement.

Strategy: Partner with industry experts and influencers to give insight and value into the next 125 years.

National Geographic created a series of Google Hangouts with some of the biggest experts in the world. They invited people like Jane Goodall, Dr. Robert Ballard, and Kenny Broad. These influencers all participated in the live video chat as they discussed what they see as the next 125 years of exploration.

The chat was live, and audience members had the opportunity to participate.

As CMO Amy Maniatis stated, “If Alexander Graham Bell was imagining the National Geographic Society today and not 125 years ago and was trying to figure out a way to tell stories of exploration, he’d probably suggest a Google+ hangout.”

The series added 150,000 new followers to NatGeo’s Google+ and over 50 million social impressions across their entire social network.

It all started because they engaged with users through social media.

Practice Social Listening.

The social equivalent of analytics for websites is listening.

It is vital that you listen to what your social network wants, and then improve based on those ideas. Follow the market.

One business that engaged in social listening with backing results is Avaya.

Real Life Example: Avaya

Goal: Gather in depth understanding of the market and their audience.

Strategy: Monitor brand mentions and conversations and jump into the discussion.

Normally, a business like this would just tell people what they do, and then sell their services.

What’s their approach? They started monitoring 2,500+ weekly brand mentions, conversations, competitor names, and product names on social media.

They listened to the market.

Avaya then provided customized responses to all of these different conversations across Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and forums.

In the midst of doing this, one tweet made this a very profitable decision.

The tweet: “shoretel or avaya? Time for a new phone system very soon”

Their response led to a $250,000 sale 13 days later.

The moral of the story: listening is as important or even more important than communicating on social media.

Build a Customer Service Strategy.

While it is vital to listen to what prospects desire, it is even more important to listen to your clients on social media.

Around the world, customers are turning first to social media now for customer service.

Real Life Example: Herschel Supply Co.

Goal: Have a supportive customer service environment on social media channels.

Strategy: Monitor customer questions and support across all social media channels and respond intelligently to every customer.

Herschel Supply Co. is just one example of a business that benefits from customer service support on social media platforms.

They supply quality backpacks, bags, travel goods and accessories. Herschel’s tech-savvy audience is enthusiastic about social media.

Herschel started using Hootsuite to monitor their customers’ questions across multiple social networks. Hootsuite (if you haven’t heard of it yet) is a marketing platform that connects all your social medias, mentions, hashtags and the like.

This strategy resulted in a 20% “lifetime customer service satisfaction rate” and a 60% increase in overall positive brand sentiment.

Their strategy is simple. Respond to every question a customer has and create an environment of support.

This is where software like Hootsuite becomes beneficial. This online software monitors not only Herschel’s company name, but also related hashtags and keywords.

Keep in mind that not all customers will tag you in their questions. It is best to be proactive when keeping up to date with them. This is why Herschel asks their customers to use tags like #Herschel and #HerschelSupply to track customer service inquiries.

Create Something Memorable.

With these real-life examples, now you can see that social media strategy is more than just a few buzzwords.

When used properly, it’s an engine to drive targeted traffic to your business using social media.

The companies we discussed above did not just follow the “normal formula” for social media. Instead, they built strategies and used innovative solutions in social media platforms to create a unique brand experience.

They created something memorable.

Utilize the guidelines above to customize your own social media strategy and stand out from the crowd.

Thoughts? We’d love to continue the discussion in the comments…