Third Step – To Create a Social Media Strategy

So you have decided on your audience and asked the question “Who is your Audience?”.  You have decided on your Objective, what you want your audience to do and now what. Well you have the information you need to move to the next step. Keep in mind that the first two steps take a little bit of time. You may have never asked yourself “Who is your Audience” or “What is your Objective”. So even if you do not desire to have a Social Media Strategy the first two questions are great ones to find out when you are in business. You would be surprised at how many businesses struggle with those two questions. But that, as I said previously, is for another series of blogs.

So now you need to decide where to put your message, right (No sorry that is Wrong). This is where people get bogged down. They think they have all the information to move forward, but not quite yet. This is one of the most important steps. It is the step where you decide how you are going to become a  “Trust Agent” (If you haven’t read the book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith you need to.)  We will spend some time on this in the next few weeks, but if you get the book you will be ahead of the curve.

The third step to creating a Social Media Strategy is to decide on your Strategy. You need to ask yourself another question. How are you going to fulfill your objective to meet your audience needs? You need to have a map and that is your strategy. This is how you become a Trust Agent to your audience. Don’t make the mistake of so many and begin selling your wares, whatever they are, before you build the trust. This is just one part of the strategy. So for those of you who want a very detailed definition of “Business Strategy” please follow the link by clicking on Business Strategy.  For this blog we are going to use a much simpler definition.

Alternative chosen to make happen a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
When we talk about strategy I have narrowed it down to a very black and white statement.
What will be different when you are done? What will success look like to you?
If you can keep those questions in mind you will be able to narrow your strategy to an achievable action of time, resources and effort. The strategy that you decide on is as important as the first two steps. It will guide you on what communities to join and become part of the conversation, it will help you with your messaging, and it will keep your messaging consistent throughout your entire Social Media Strategy.
For some reason this step is a hard one for most. It is the step that people spend the least amount of time, but it should be the one that you spend the most time on. Coming up with a great strategy will help you succeed in the least amount of time. Remember that Social Media success goes to the Tortoise not the Hare. (If you don’t know the Tortoise and the Hare story ask your parents or your kids or what the heck click on the link).
Here are  a few hints to help you start developing your strategy (Remember it is a Social Media Strategy)
  1. Research where your audience is spending their time in social media.
  2. Ask colleagues and customers what social media sites they use and more importantly which ones they count on for good information.
  3. Start keeping a record of the answers you receive from the above.
  4. Set up a “listening station” See “Listening Station” for step by step details.
  5. Don’t develop the strategy on your own,  have a team or colleagues help you.

(These are just a few ideas to help you get started. You can go as deep as a SWOT analysis if you want.)

There is only one more step so stay tuned.

Les Adkins, Founder and CEO of Orange SMS

Navigating the Social Media Playground

Found this interesting take on Social Media. Very insightful information.

by Sherry Heyl

Social Media is an ever-changing, overwhelming sea of possibilities. For most people the biggest challenge is figuring out where to get started with social media.

We all have heard the familiar and sound advise to start by listening. Listen to your customers, listen to the community, listen, listen, listen.

Everyone says to listen! Listen to what?

The reality is that there is so much information or noise being generated every second that you could spend an entire career listening and never do anything else.

The trick is to not just listen, but to participate, as well as be able to adapt the voice of authority.

Think back to being a kid on a playground, or go visit a busy playground for and observe for a while. What you will notice first is that it is a noisy place. There are little girls having a secret conversations in one corner, groups of boys raiding each other on the equipment, and a group of boys and girls building castles at yet another section of the playground. Each of them are living in their own world and are tuned into their own activities, but the call of an authoritative voice raises their attention and will cause all activities to change directions.

How does this relate to developing your own social media listening program? The social media world is very similar to a child’s playground (in oh so many ways!)

When a child arrives at the playground they will first glance around to see what is going on and who they know. I relate this to casting a wide net to gather a high level insight of conversations that are happening related to:

* Your Brand
* Your Competitors
* Your Services
* Problems you Solve

Once we understand the landscape and ecosystem of all the activities going on, we will begin to focus in on what we know best and where we feel most comfortable. On the playground this would be equivalent to saying hi to our friends and checking in on what they are doing. In the social media world it is very much the same thing. We will check in on our customers, prospects, and people who know us that we should get to know.

As we play we begin to learn the rules of the playground. Who is in charge of which activities and which children are committed to those activities as well as which children are just exploring various areas. In social media we call the leaders of certain circles influencers. Social media influencers, like the children leading various playground activities, were never appointed as leaders and they have no real authority, but they have a personality that entices others to follow along. As we play with them we strengthen existing relationship bonds as well as make new friends.

In business this would be equivalent to understanding the context of each conversation, the sentiment within each community and the connections among different social ties. Look for who is the center of influence within your market.

The child who wants to lead his own little tribe will be successful only if he or she has tapped into areas of play that children are most drawn to and story lines that they want to act out. Similar to the business person who needs to create messages that resonate with their customers needs and desires and to attract an audience who are willing and able to respond to various calls to action.

Once you are not only part of the community, your community also becomes part of the ecosystem and you will be tapped in to new opportunities as well as potential threats to your playground enterprise. You will be able to respond to these opportunities and threats to the best of your ability.

However, there is always the inevitable call from the voice of authority that changes the game. On the playground it is the voice of the parent saying it is time for your best friend to leave, thus shaking up the connections within your group. Online it is the voice of a social networking site enticing your community members away from your chosen channels with promises of better tools, friendly user interfaces, or more efficient ways to track the enormous amount of information we are all keeping track of. The child must be prepared to rebuild or move-on, as does any business investing in social media.

However, to keep up with it all, you have to continuously be listening.

Twas The Night Before Christmas Social Media Style

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house you’re on Petville and Zoo World using your mouse
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care and hoping your latest YouTube video soon would be shared
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, flirting on MySpace and texting instead
And mama in her ‘kerchief’ and I in my cap when both of us heard a laugh and a snap
Our children ran laughing exclaiming with pride will share this on Flickr and they ran away to hide
When then on my laptop there arose such a Twitter I sprang from my bed to ReTweet the matter
Away to my blog I flew like a flash to write down my thoughts before they had passed
The light from my laptop gave the room a slight glow I belonged to so many groups I didn’t know where to go
When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Holiday Card from Plaxo this year
The card stated clearly with marketing bliss may you be profitable this year, please pick from the list
We’ll show you the way but make sure to pick us
We are social marketing experts go ahead you can trust us
The confusion I felt in this technical world made me almost fall down while my head just swirled
I remembered the time when email was it and out for the Holidays was all we needed to fit
So in spite of the beeping another text had arrived and all I could do was just sit down and sigh
More rapid than eagles the messages came, there were tweets and comments and all were the same
My dog is too tired, join my cause, a fan page is waiting, do you need a job
What happened to Christmas where did it go
I’m writing this down and still I don’t know
The world it is changing we have to agree on the night that we call our Christmas Eve
So don’t fret or shudder the next time you hear the sound of a text on your iPhone so clear
For all of the native’s, digital true we want you to join the community that fits you
This Social Networking is not going away its changing the power with each passing day
So this Christmas remember no matter what you perceive we are coming together as a world, yes believe
And all of your gifts electronic or real remember the change has happened regardless of how you feel
We are here to guide you relax it’s not the end
All we really want is just to be friends
So although we did not mention, all of the Sites
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Les Adkins
Social Media Solutions
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