Before You Engage, Make Sure Social Strategy Supports Your Goals

by Eric Melin on June 6, 2011

This is the third in a series of posts about the 6 Steps to an Effective Social Media Program. The goal is to help companies sort out social media for business by giving them a step-by-step guide from the ground up.

In the introductory post a couple weeks ago, we talked about how good social media programs and campaigns don’t live in a bubble.

Being successful for your company isn’t about how many followers you get on Twitter or how many likes your page gets on Facebook. These statistics aren’t worth a thing unless you can capitalize on them for your business in a meaningful way. Being active on these platforms is only important if using them helps you reach your goal.

Knowing that social media isn’t the strategy, but rather a component of a bigger, overarching strategy is an important key. Understanding that allows you to move further on.

If social media is just a part of an overall strategy, then the first step to a successful social media program is a simple, but often forgotten one: Do some thinking and decide what goals and objectives your company is trying reach before you even begin to think about anything else. This step lays the foundation of step number two, which we’ll talk about today.

It seems like kind of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t connect the dots between identifying the company’s goals and this step:

Step Two: Align Social Media Program with Goals

This is where the real creative thinking comes in. You know what your company needs. Now it’s time to design a program and make sure that whatever you build, it supports the goals that your business needs to achieve.

In order to make these decisions, you need to survey the online landscape to see what’s out there already.

  • Where are your customers online?
  • What are they saying/sharing?
  • Who is influential in your space?

Small View of Brand

You have a lot of options here to figure this out. Set up Google Alerts for your brand. If you’re already on Twitter or Facebook, get TweetDeck or HootSuite and monitor brand mentions on Twitter. Look at insights from your Facebook page. Use any number of free social search tools for extra insight. These will each give you very specific, if limited, views.

Comprehensive Web View

But if you need to get a comprehensive view of the the relevant web data for your brand, your competitors, your market, or your customers, a paid web monitoring/listening tool (that brings in more than just social media, like Spiral16) is extremely useful. This will give you a clear picture of your digital footprint and surrounding areas, and these results should help to spark your creativity.

After you do some online research and look at the results, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How does that online picture compare with what you knew previously of your brand?
  2. How can you integrate social media to support/improve/change your existing marketing?

You already have research and results that backs up the traditional marketing you do, so why wouldn’t you research the web to find some online business intelligence before jumping into a social media program?

Some Ideas

Maybe your results helped you identify a customer need. How can your program support those needs? What does starting a social customer service program get you? Should you create an online forum or do you need to deliver a targeted online content strategy?

How will opening up a dialogue with your customers benefit your company? If you identified lots of dedicated customers, should you start a brand advocacy program and turn your fans into brand ambassadors who will spread genuine conversation about your brand?

If any of the above sounds like a good idea, before you run with it, don’t forget to ask how it will integrate into your current strategy and how it will support your company goals. Can this idea be designed to increase sales? Can it help acquire new customers? Will it increase customer satisfaction? These are specific goals that can be measured and reached.

If your social media program is lined up with your current business objectives, you are one step closer to implementing it and reaping the benefits. Before you put it into place, however, you have to go back to your listening tools to get some specific numbers so you can measure success.

We’ll cover that, in the fourth post about the 6 Steps to an Effective Social Media Program next…

Image credits:, Performance Improvement Blog, Cool Visualization of America Now and Here Twitter Presence


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