Creating the perfect social media strategy

Social media for some people is a bit of fun for posting opinionated blogs, photos of Ibiza 2009 and talking to friends, but for others it’s serious business and if you don’t know what you’re doing you can spend an awful lot of time getting not a lot done.

By this we mean if you don’t know how to market yourself and your company correctly then you’re never going to see any rewards for your effort, whatever you consider success in social media to be.

So before you even set up a Twitter account or start getting involved in online discussion forums you need to know exactly what you want to get out of social media and how you are going to get it. This may seem obvious but you’d be amazed how many businesses launch themselves into it like a headless chicken and hope for the best. If you do this you are guaranteed to fail and spend eternity wandering through blogs and forums where no one wants to be your friend.

Know what you consider a success for your social media strategy because this means different things to different people. For some their goal is getting more traffic flowing through their website, others look to generate new leads, while some just want to engage better with their customers and learn about them. Whether you just want to raise your brand awareness online or get more subscribers to your blog, be sure to have a set goal in mind when you launch your strategy.

Once you’ve stepped out of the comfort zone of your office and into the ever-changing, multidimensional world of social media you need to establish yourself and your brand so internet users know who you are and what you do. Promoting a united message across all fronts makes it easy for customers to identify you and feel connected with what you are doing.

If your message is loud and clear this becomes easier. There would have been no point in Barack Obama getting thousands of people to chant “Yes We Can!” if they didn’t know what it stood for. By making it obvious what your brand stands for through a social media strategy it becomes easier to achieve your goals.

With your brand established you need to know where to focus your efforts. There’s no point a salesman praising the power of a new 4x4 to a group of environmentalists, and the same is true with social media. You need to figure out where your customers are, what they’re interested in and identify the best way to please them.

People behave differently online to how they do in person, so you need to be prepared to deal with digital demands and trends. It is crucial in the early stages of your social media strategy to spend as much time as possible listening to what your client base has to say before trying to do anything.

There are so many different opinions bouncing around on the internet within small groups that you need to be able to split them up and deal with individual needs. By jumping in with an opinion or offer of help too early without fully understanding what people are after you may simply end up alienating potential leads. The more time you spend listening, the better.

When you are confident you have a full grasp of the environment then you can begin to engage with people however you see fit. Comment on blogs, retweet people’s messages, answers questions on Facebook groups, get involved in discussions on LinkedIn.

You may even find yourself referring people to your competition. This might sound like a strange thing to do, but a successful social media strategy is all about building your reputation online. You won’t get new customers every time, but you’re presence will start to be felt and respected. If people trust your opinion they will trust you and your product, remember who you are and refer you to others.

Social media is the ultimate network and just like the real world success will come when what you do is held in high esteem. However, even when you have achieved your goals the work does not end. Social media is always changing and growing new limbs, so you need to be ready to adapt your strategy to make the most of this.

Social media never sleeps, so be sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

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