Strategic Thinking: A Social Media Checklist

by Eric Melin on February 12, 2013

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There’s a lot of people brands talking to their customers on social media, but what are they getting out of it?

We all know it feels good to be acknowledged. And it feels good to give people something they want — whether that’s interesting information, coupons or discounts, advice, or an actual solution to a problem. When brands form solid relationships with their customers, it can be the basis for loyalty that will pay forward in spades.

But once companies start engaging with their customers (or before they even start), there is a ton of social and web data that can bring useful insight to the forefront and help mold all business strategies and communications. With this information at your fingertips, brands can plan better social strategies and engage and act more efficiently.

Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and author of the bestselling books Open Leadership and Groundswell, knows this. A recent Charlene Li interview that I found at the Social:IRL blog is almost a step-by-step “how to” of what that will look like for most companies. These steps are right in line with the same social advice that I blog about here at Spiral16, so it’s great to hear someone like Charlene summing it all up so well!

Social Media Checklist for Strategic Thinking/Planning

  1. Great advice to start off any social strategy brainstorm: Be “thinking ahead of what you want to do in social.”
  2. “Listening is the foundation.” It’s easy to say “I want to engage” but you have to learn and understand from the vast terrain of the Internet.
  3. “Action is important but sometimes you have to pull back and look at the big picture.” If you’re not monitoring your brand and competitors online, your strategy won’t be based on real intelligence.
  4. You “need to be strategic and (have) a plan with very specific goals in mind.”
  5. Create a “three-year vision” for what you hope social to be accomplishing and frame it in the context of the relationships that you have with your customers today. How will that look different in three years’ time?
  6. Go beyond likes, retweets, shares, etc to figure out what is the business impact of social media. Make a case for how all these social activities are making a difference in the business. That’s how you get buy-in from the top for your social media program.

Thanks, Charlene, for this awesome, plain-spoken advice. Every brand should go through this long-term, strategic-thinking checklist before jumping in with any kind of social action.

If there’s one thing we know from our experience helping brands and agencies with social media monitoring, it’s that you can’t measure if you don’t know what you’re measuring.


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