We hear so much about strategies for running a successful social media strategy, but how are you supposed to run that strategy if you don’t get started properly? Before you can get to the day-to-day successes, you need to set yourself up. Here are a few things to consider as you are building your social media strategy before launching to the public.

Consider your overall strategy

Any marketing strategy you have should integrate with your overall business strategy and goals, including your social media strategy. Your marketing should help you work towards successfully achieving your business goals.

Spy before you try

Watch for what everyone else is doing on social media in your industry – and even beyond that. Competitor research will be your best friend when it comes to getting your social media set up. By looking at your competitors’ social channels, you can get a good sense of what is working for them versus what isn’t working. Keep in mind that you don’t want to copy anything, you still want to be unique to your brand, but if they are competitors you will likely have similar audience targets. You can get inspiration from competitors and influencers, but make it your own.

The other thing to keep an eye on is trends on social media in your industry. Trends have to start somewhere even if it is in a niche industry. You can either start them once you have a larger following or follow the flow and join in on the conversation as you are getting started.

Don’t make assumptions

While you may not have any data yet, social media and your audience behavior on it isn’t new. Don’t make assumptions about your audience and their online behavior. Get in there and learn about them by interacting with them, or at the very least – lurking and listening. It has been proven that your audience wants three things from you:

  • Special offers/deals
  • To learn something new
  • To hear about new products/innovation

That is a good place to start when it comes to content planning!

Start small

You don’t need to be everywhere online. In fact, it’s better to pick one channel and excel at it than be on 4 or 5 channels with inconsistency and low quality content. You will have a smaller digital footprint, but when it comes to your audience and consuming content, quality is always better than quantity. Spend the time necessary to set up and optimize your chosen social channels, and remember, when you are preparing your content strategy keep your content on each channel unique to the channel itself so you can build a better community and utilize each of your channels to their fullest extent.

Define success

Defining success is so important before starting any marketing initiative. Figure out your social media goals, whether it’s community growth, engagement, website traffic, etc. That way you can set up metrics to monitor over time. Have tracking in place BEFORE you get started, even if it’s just a simple excel spreadsheet with basic reporting metrics. You should also figure out how often you will create internal reports, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or a combination of both. It will save you time in the long run when you need to monitor your daily strategy.

Be realistic about your time

While it doesn’t cost anything to use social media platforms organically (not for paid social media advertisements), it does take time to do it properly. And time is a resource that isn’t infinite. If you can’t commit the time, hire a third party to do it for you, otherwise, you will be wasting what little time you do have to spend on social media and you likely won’t see the results you had hoped.

Another option is getting a third party to help you build the strategy and help you find ways to implement efficiently on a day-to-day basis.

A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.