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How to Approach Your Social Media Campaigns, Intelligently

You wouldn’t dream of starting a business without a plan. So why do so many business owners start social media campaigns without any real planning or strategy? Typically, they start blogging, Tweeting, building Facebook pages and checking in on Foursquare simply because everyone else is doing it.

In other words, they approach social media marketing as if they were kids playing with a shiny new toy. Ask a six-year-old what his “strategy” is in playing with the toy truck and he’ll look at you like you were crazy. Ask a small business owner what his social media strategy is, and you are likely to see the exact same expression.

“I’m looking to get more customers” is the most common answer.

The only problem with that statement is that “getting more customers” is a goal, not a strategy.

Social Media Marketing Strategy
Effective social media strategy begins with self-reflection. Ask yourself:

  • What is the core of my business?
  • What differentiates my business?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • Once I get an audience, what messages do I plan on delivering?
  • (Most importantly) How can I turn my audience in revenues?

Once you have clear answers to these questions, you’ll be able to look at a variety of social media platforms and see which ones are best suited to deliver your message.

For example, if you are looking to establish yourself or your business as experts in your field, blogging and social community involvement may be the best way to go. If you are looking to enhance your customer service or make specific offers to your target audience, Twitter may be the best platform. For businesses looking to work with other businesses, LinkedIn may be the best bet.

In virtually all cases, though, a combination of platforms and campaigns is the best option.

What will work best for your business?
Unfortunately, many businesses go the “trial-and-error” route. They dip their toes in the social media waters and fail to achieve their desired goals. They fail for any number of reasons: misunderstanding the etiquette of a particular platform, poor messaging or even a failure to commit time and resources.

This “trial-and-error” method costs companies (especially smaller companies) time, money and credibility. A poorly executed social media campaign can literally destroy your company’s hard-earned reputation. That’s why it is so important to either have social media experts in-house or to hire a company with social media experience—a company that has produced quantifiable results for clients.

Getting started
There is no single social media platform or combination of platforms that will work for every business. When my agency works with clients on their social media strategy, we start with a detailed question-and-answer process. The objective of this process is to understand short-term and long-term business goals, to uncover other current marketing and advertising efforts, and to determine what results the client expects from the social media marketing campaign.

Some of the questions we typically ask are:

  • What is your commitment to the social media campaign (manpower, time investment, budget and duration)?
  • What are the goals of the campaign?
  • What are the criteria for measuring the success or failure of the program?
  • How do you plan on measuring the success or failure of the campaign?
  • Who will be at the “steering wheel” of your social media campaign?
  • Does anyone in your company have social media expertise?
  • More importantly, does that person(s) have the skills to deliver your key messaging through social media?
  • To what extent are you willing to outsource your social media campaigns?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you can build a better social media campaign, either in-house or through an agency such as ours.

Visit the Yahoo Advertising Blog to read this article: How to Approach Your Social Media Campaigns, Intelligently