Do you need to develop a social media strategy for your business?
Are you looking for some guidance to help you get started?
If so, then here are some questions that you will need to ask yourself to help you get started.
Develop A Social Media Strategy - Questions

What are your overall business goals?

Do you have a business plan or a marketing plan (even if they are out of date)?
If so, dust it off.  Or better so, update it!  Your overall business goals are going to inform how social media can be used to assist your business.
What are you trying to achieve? 
Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Are you looking to generate more leads? Do you need to sell more products/services to achieve your revenue targets? Is customer service and nurturing current customers a priority? Are you trying to gain more customer referrals?
Chances are you want to achieve a combination of the above and maybe even something else. However, lets not spread ourselves too thinly here. Take a moment to work out what the priority is and in what order you need to tackle each of your business goals. That direction will inform how you use social media further down the track when you get to the content planning and implementation phase.

Who is your ideal customer?

You want to use social media to attract more of your ideal customers. You know, the ones that buy everything you have to offer and are always raving about how awesome you are, rather than those that zap all your time and energy for little or no return.
What do they look like?
How old are they? Where do they live? Where do they hang out, both on and off-line? What are their interests? What are their major issues and pain points that you can assist them with?
The more you know about them the better. In you are not sure, ask them!

What is your voice?

Do you have branding guidelines, brand personality, logos and images that reflects your business?
If so, compile it all – then humanize it! Imagine your business as a person.
What does he/she look like?
Create an Avatar of that person through a combination of words and imagery and then do your best to consistently be that person whenever you are representing your business via social media, regardless of whether it is one or many people posting as your businesses.
If this persona you develop for your business shares common beliefs and interests to your ideal customer, then you are better placed to achieve success. If there is a disconnect, then stop right now and review this.

What have you already done?

Are you already on social media, even if you are doing such as dismal job that you would prefer not to admit it? 
If so, what are the URL’s for all of your social media platforms and other on-line presences (e.g. websites) that you currently have set up for your business.
Now, lets look a little deeper and find out what systems you currently have in place for lead capturing, email marketing and other customer relationship management tools, including measuring the marketing source of sales within your business. Don’t forget any other social media support tools you use to support and measure your social media and on-line activities, such as HootSuite, Google Analytics, etc as well.
What about off-line marketing activities?
What marketing material do you issues to prospective customers? Do you have an information booklet, brochures, business cards? Grab a sample of each.
Then think of other promotional opportunities. What does your current and/or potential customers see? This may include, and is in no way limited to, your office, your car, your quotes, your receipts, your menus, your store, your events, your banners. Your turn! What else?  Write them all down, as these may become potential opportunities to promote your social media efforts down the track.
Think forward also. What other marketing/advertising is your business undertaking or planning to undertake in the near future. Maybe you have a big launch coming up, a PR campaign in the works or are considering dabbling in Google Adwords. Document it! You want to make sure that this is acknowledged and supported within your social media strategy.
Is that all you’ve got?
Is there any other relevant documentation (e.g. Social Media Community Guidelines, Social Media Usage Guidelines, Social Media Monitoring Guidelines, Social Media Content Sharing Guidelines, Content Calendar/Plan) that you have developed or at least started. Don’t let that hard work go to waste. Let’s check out if any of that is salvageable.
By this stage you should be pleasantly surprised that you are further down the planning track than you first imagined.
All of this information you have compiled should now be audited to determine what is working, what isn’t, what improvements can be made and what just needs to be ditched! A SWOT will assist you in determining this.

What value have you got to offer?

What is your value proposition?
When it all boils down, what is the real value you offer your fans? Why should people Like, Follow or Subscribe to your business?  Is it to:

  • Receive the latest news;
  • Get discounts and special offers;
  • To learn; or
  • Something else that provides significant value to your ideal customer?

What do you have to offer in exchange for people Liking, Following, Subscribing, etc?
Unfortunately in today’s WIIFM (what’s in it for me) culture, people don’t do much for nothing. If you are going to develop a following, then you are going to have to dangle some carrots. Will your carrots be:

  • Vouchers;
  • Free e-books;
  • An entry into a competition;
  • A training video; or
  • Something else that your ideal customer is desperate to get their hands on?

What are the “key messages” that you would like to communicate?
Stop! Before you answer this, ask yourself “what does my ideal customer want from me” rather than “what do I want my customers to know about my business”. Once you have figured out the answers to the first question, you can go about forming the key messages that you plan to communicate to your customers that add value to them and at the same time assist you in achieving your overall business goals.
If that sounds hard, you are right! This is where your content plan/calendar, combined with your engagement strategy kicks in. IMHO, this is where the majority of your resources should be allocated as this is where you create engagement and raving fans, which ultimately lead to achieving your overall business goals!

What resources do you have?

What human resources do you have available to support the development and implementation of your social media plan?
If you intend to be awesome on social media, then you will need to fill the following roles as a minimum:

  • Social Media Manager – someone who understands your strategy (once you develop it – or better still, is involved in developing it) and is proficient in the use of social media for business that can confidently and successfully steer this beast called “social media” to assist in achieving your overall business goals
  • Blogger – someone who can create a constant source of awesome content that drives people back to your website
  • Copywriter – someone who is good at making sure that your words count
  • Photographer – can be anyone with a camera phone (to some degree)
  • Image Editor – can be anyone that can use image editing apps on their phone (or PicMonkey)
  • Designer – someone that can develop banners and imagery for use on your social media platforms that are consistent with your brand
  • Videographer – again, anyone with a camera phone could potentially do this (to some degree)
  • Advertiser – the organic nature of social media is not what it used to be – investing in social media advertising can save you big time in the long-run, provided you have the budget and know-how
  • Techie Guru – that person that doesn’t run screaming, but instead works out the problem and fixes it when something isn’t working on-line
  • Teacher – you are going to embark on a steep learning curve, make sure someone can guide you along the way

Chances are there isn’t one person with all these skills just sitting around in your business twiddling their thumbs with nothing else to do that you could assign all these tasks to. These responsibilities could (and probably should) be allocated to several people, each performing a different role based on their knowledge, skills and interests.
A team of people creating content on behalf of your business on a regular basis is a good strategy. And don’t just limit yourself to your own team. Are their any industry colleagues who could potentially contribute also? Guest bloggers and blogger outreach might be something you wish to consider as part of your strategy as a way of increasing your capacity.
How much time are you willing (or able) to commit?
Be realistic as to how much time you can allocate to the development and implementation of your social media strategy. Don’t over commit, as chances are it will take you much longer than you expect!
Outsourcing some or all of the above roles might be a consideration for you also, particularly if you don’t have the time and/or skills to do it in-house.
And what about your finances?
What is your budget for developing and implementing your social media strategy? No doubt this will be the biggest factor in determining how much you can and can’t do. So don’t go nuts adding in all the bells and whistles if you can’t afford them!

What are your competitors and other businesses doing?

I put this toward the end because as I am not a big believer that you should get all hung up about what other people are doing, but that’s not to say that you should ignore them either.  Find out what your competitors are doing and then harness that competitive intelligence to assist you in developing your strategy.
But don’t just look at your competitors.  Go out and actively source examples of businesses that are using social media effectively that you would like to emulate and then put steps in motion to do so.

What is your action plan?

How are you going to implement your social media strategy?
What is your plan for:

  • Deciding which social media platform(s) you need to be on;
  • Setting up your social media platform(s);
  • Developing your offers/value propositions;
  • Building your fan base;
  • Developing your content plan/calendar that incorporates a content creation and sourcing strategy;
  • Setting guidelines around social media usage, monitoring and community engagement;
  • Identifying any skill shortages and undertaking the appropriate training;
  • Setting up any additional tools to support your objectives; and
  • Measuring your success!

This action plan should include:

  • Objectives for each action item;
  • What actually needs to be done;
  • Who is responsible;
  • What resources need to be allocated (human, materials and financial);
  • When each item needs to be completed by; and
  • How you will know when each item is achieved

What are you waiting for?

Develop A Social Media StrategyDon’t miss out on all the opportunities social media can provide for your business any longer!
If you can collate as much of the above information as possible, you are well on your way to developing a Social Media Strategy. The format it takes should be consistent with what works for your business.
So what should you do now?
Get started!
And if this all sounds too hard, then you can always find someone who can assist you in pulling this altogether.