Figuring out the hows of social media shouldn't be complicated. These are just a few guides to build a social media strategy piece by piece.
Wouldn't it be great if you could answer 5-10 questions about your social media goals, your staff time and your audiences and poof - get set up on the social media channels that will be perfect for your organization?
Yeah, me too.
Unfortunately for all of us - there's no secret formula. What works for you doesn't always work for me. But there are a few things you can do to make the channel selection process less painful than a year of A/B email testing.
6 things to think about before selecting a channel:
1- What are your goals for social media? Are you hoping for one on one interaction? Do you plan on sharing a lot of photos? What product or services are you trying to promote and to whom? Knowing what you want to do (or what you think you want to do) will help you narrow down your choices. This is usually called "Define your objectives" in business speak - it means, figure out what you want to do. If you want to create a space for interacting with your community or if you want to have a 24hr customer service line - define it here. While you are at it- set up a few metrics or benchmarks to refer back to every month or so - things like, increase referrals to our website or get 100 followers is fine.
2- How much staff time will you be able to devote to developing content? With the development of tools like HootSuite and SocialOoomph - we can treat social media like that Ronco Rotisserie: Set it and FOR-GET it! At some point though - you do have to develop content. If you only have an hour once a week - Facebook may be ideal for you. But if you are a news junkie and can take 15 mins at awkward times each day - Twitter might be perfect for you.
3- Where is your audience? No really. It's all about the user experience. Where is your audience? You wouldn't try to sell a TV at McDonalds or a Big Mac at Best Buy right? Best way to find out where you should be is ask people. Ask staff. Ask donors. Ask volunteers.
4- Make a content calendar for the year. If you can't roughly estimate the sort of topics and content you'd have on the channel for the next 12 months, you need to do one of two things: a) learn what your organization is doing for the next year or b) pick a different channel.
5- What is your competitor doing? What channels are they on? What sorts of things do they talk about? You should be able to list your top 4 competitors, the channels they are on, the types of things they post and how often they push their product or services. Keep in mind their staffing and budgets as well - you want to know what the competition is doing but if you are a mom & pop diner you don't want to pull out your hair trying to beat an international chain. The key is figuring out how to own the market in your area.
6- What channels do you like to use? These will be the easiest channels to work in, because you already play a part. Before I decide on a channel, I ask people who are in that space what they think and do. For example, for months, I couldn't figure out why Pinterest would be cool for anyone who doesn't run a blog and need a place to tag webpages. Then I talked to a mom who used it to organize craft ideas, home renovations and wedding planning. Talking to people who fully embrace the channels you are thinking about helps you figure out how you would use it - without the hours of stumbling around the channel.
If you've already selected a channel, but aren't sure if you made the right choice, take a look at Idealware's list of 10 Things You're Doing Wrong before making any rash decisions like cancelling your account.