What to include in a social media strategy

Learn how to create a complete social media strategy for your business from setting objectives and channel selection to engagement strategy and skills analysis. Discover the power of social media with SoCrowd Academy.

About Our Social Media Strategy Class

Our class will take you through 12 essential steps to help you create a social media strategy for your business.

Discover how to create an executive summary, set SMART objectives, establish your brand tone of voice in addition to nurturing your social media audience and outlining the resources needed to put your strategy into action.

Start your social media journey and see the benefits of a comprehensive social media strategy with your brand.

Hello, and welcome to this lesson on social media strategy.

I think that strategy is probably the most important lesson that we’re going to do in this whole course, because it’s basically your roadmap and we’re going to have a look at how you take a more strategic approach, but also actually what do you put into your strategy.

And I’ve got the 12 steps that you need to consider and include in your strategy too.

So as we go through this, have a little think about what we’re talking about.

We’d love to hear from you, so you can tweet us at @SoCrowd, you can tweet me at @HelReynolds, or tweet us both. Or you can mention us on LinkedIn, or wherever you like. Whatever is your social media of choice, we’d love to hear from you.

So let’s have a think about social media strategy. And the way is see strategy is, that it is something that doesn’t change. It’s your decisions on how you’re going to do things as an organisation.

So, we’ll go through the steps of all of those decisions you’ll make in a second. But let’s have a think about how that differs from tactics.

Tactics are your creative ideas, your content and your ways of getting what you want to get done, done. And those things are much more adaptable.

So if something doesn’t work very well, you can tweak it and make sure that it does work and achieve what you want to achieve, which will set out in the strategy.

So this will become a little bit more apparent as we go through, especially when we start looking at objectives.

One thing to think about with strategy is that it is, I suppose thinking about the reasons for why you want to bother to do it. Because it does take a little bit of time to plan this all out is it is essential forget it buy in.

So if you think of your leadership team and your organisation, they have lots and lots of things to think about. And if they don’t know what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve, then they’ll find it really hard to get behind your work and they’ll have their own opinions on what they think you should do and shouldn’t do.

So when you have a strategy, it does help to get people behind you because you’ve told them where you’re going with it. And once they’ve approved it, they can’t go back. That’s the way I see it.

And the other thing to think about with strategy is that it is your way of setting the direction of actually being able to make decisions quickly because there are loads of things that we can do.

And if you’re anything like me as a communications person, I just look at so many exciting stories that I want to share. There’s so many projects I’d like to work on. I’d love to do Pinterest more and all of these things. But you can’t do it all. It is impossible to do it all.

So a strategy allows you to just kind of have a bit of focus and really get that sense of achievement that you’ve done something at the end of the year or the six months or however long you want to plan your strategy for.

The first thing that you’re going to include in your strategy is the executive summary and that is basically your elevator pitch it’s the way that you can say maybe you’re not going to read my whole strategy, but this is the thing that I can tell you and show you that will help you understand everything that’s in here in a nutshell, and it’s probably the thing that you’ll write last in your strategy, but it’s the first thing that you’ll show in your actual document.

And that document could be an online thing, you could create an amazing app with it in, which would be unnecessary but you could, or it can be a paper document that actually lives on a shelf.

Either way you’re going to show someone your strategy to get it approved and your team is going to be working to that strategy.

So it is nice sometimes to have an executive summary that just kind of reminds you of what you’re here to do when everything goes a little bit bonkers around you.

In your exec summary, the number two thing that you’re going to do is probably linked to your common strategy or your marketing strategy.

So social media strategy doesn’t sit alone in its own right. It will obviously massively play into those other strategies that you have.

And you know you might well want to link back to your corporate strategy or other business plans around the place to show how your social media strategy fits in with that it is necessarily different.

You have different things to consider with social media. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not trying to achieve the same things on behalf of your organisation.

So don’t forget to link into the relevant places there or just take an extract of one of those reports and show how it fits in with what you’re doing with your social media strategy.

The next thing that you need to include. Number three in your strategy is where are we now. And I’ve done lots of fancy courses on strategy.

And this is often called things like environmental scanning and there’s all different ways of doing things for a social media strategy.

I think all you need to do is have a look at where you are at the moment with your social media what’s working well, what isn’t. You can do a full social media audit and just pull out some of the findings that you’ve done.

So what would you like to get better at? Where are your weaknesses? What is the point of you doing this strategy at this point? And it’s useful because you may not know yourself and sometimes it clarifies that.

But more than that it helps the people that are going to see your report understand why you’re doing things and where they are at the moment.

Number 4 is objectives. And it is the most important part of any strategy because it’s what you’re trying to achieve and you might find this, I know when I was in an in-house job, I felt a little bit like I was doing everything, and nothing that I did was brilliant. Everything was quite good.

I was coping with so much stuff going on that it wasn’t until I had a strategy in place that I realised, actually, if I highlight four or five things that I want to achieve over this year everything else will get done.

And I’ll do my best to cope with it. And my team will put out quick last minute stories if they can. But we’re going to really set some time aside to get these objectives brilliant, to use all our creativity to really plan out how we’re going to make this work.

And just to make sure that we’re having a really big impact  somewhere actually because it’s very satisfying as a team to look back and see what you’ve achieved and know that you’ve used all of your talents.

So think about your objectives don’t have more than four or five and make them SMART objectives.

So specific, measurable attainable, relevant, and time based, and those kinds of objectives will necessarily help you with evaluation later on. Because if they’re measurable then you can see how well you’ve achieved your goal.

And evaluation in any comms job is a difficult thing to fit in, but when you’ve got SMART objectives they’re just a part of the way that you do things and definitely have a think about doing four or five of those and really prioritise. Don’t try to do everything.

Number five in your strategy has to be tone of voice. You’ll have a completely different tone of voice on your social media than you will, let’s say, on a leaflet or your website or on a radio ad.

So you have to think about creating a tone of voice that is adaptable, so that in lots of different circumstances on social media, you can even use it and feel confident about the way that you’re talking but also it’s relevant to the platform that you’re on.

So if you write a letter you might say, dear sir with reference to your query on the 13th of July. Well, you’re not going to say that in a tweet are you. And so just making sure that you’re clear and your whole team and organisation are clear on the way that you say things.

And beautifully relevant to this is our lesson coming up on tone of voice, which will help you to work through some of those things you need to think about to get a great tone of voice in your strategy. Number six, audience segmentation.

Have you ever had that thing where someone comes in and says, oh, I’ve got this great story, I want you to promote it on social media. And you say right, who’s the audience for this? And they say, oh everyone it’s the general public.

No, you can’t do that. I can’t speak to you if I didn’t know that you were people who were interested in communications and social media strategy, then I wouldn’t be able to target my content in this lesson to you, and you’ll have the better conversations with people when you target and think about what they’re interested in and segment your audiences.

So if you know that with your objectives you’ve probably got to build up a bit more of a relationship with a certain group of people then prioritise that audience. And again, just think about the different segments that you’ve got and what kind of things they might be interested in hearing from you.

But generally and how you might influence them. I suppose. And build relationships with them. So that they become really behind what you’re trying to do.

Number seven, channels. Think about your strategy just laying out what your channels are for and sometimes you might find that with social media channels you just kind of put in all the same stuff across all of those channels. And that’s not really the most effective way to do things.

And it’s useful to set out in your strategy what your channels are for mainly. If you have a story and let’s say the stories about your organisation winning an award. It might work quite well on LinkedIn because you’ve got a professional audience there.

But maybe Facebook maybe your audience there isn’t as interested in that kind of content. So it’s about kind of saying on Facebook we talk to this audience mainly about these subjects. So that you don’t get into the habit of just posting everything everywhere.

How many of you have woken up in the morning and thought, I’m going to reach for my phone and then see if there’s any nice organisational news that I can read on Facebook. Not many of you can imagine certainly not me.

So just make sure that you know that the kind of behaviours, what people want and expect on each platform, is different. And that you’re making sure that you talk and and list out what you’re doing in each.

Number eight is the bit that everyone likes best it’s the creative approach. So this is where you can start to talk about campaign ideas you can talk about the kinds of videos or the style of communication that you’re going to have.

You can list out some examples of the kind of content that you’re planning and also linked to your content plan. And however you you plan your content just find a way to show that show your audience for this strategy.

Whoever’s reading it that you have planned things out and your content has to be a bit planned through the year. Otherwise, it all ends up last minute, especially if you’ve got objective.

So just have a look at planning that stuff out and given a flavour of what people should expect from the content when it gets published.

Number nine I call the nurturing part. What are your aims for nurturing people. If you’re creating content for great audiences how are you going to keep them liking your organisation. Keep thinking about you.

How are you going to make them not just like what you do, but delight them. And there’s a good example of this with Doubletree Hotels.

So whenever I go to a Doubletree Hotel they give me a hot cookie and it’s the only thing I remember because all hotels look the same to me. But I remember the cookie probably because I like cookies a lot.

But try and think about what are the things that you do to delight people if you think of Innocent the smoothies brand.

They do these little funny kind of shareable bits, like relevant and timely images and sometimes they’re poems or sometimes they’re funny little kind of ideas or cartoons and they delight their audience.

They’re not necessarily about their smoothies. They’re about just getting people behind them and keeping the chat going.

So what will be your ideas for keeping people interested in what you’re doing and nurturing them and making them feel special.

Will you get everyone who talks to you when you ask them what they’re doing today, if they’ve had a nice day? Will you begin to think about ways that you can compliment people?

Whatever it is that you want to do make sure you push this that you decide actually on a regular basis, we’re going to nurture our audience with these clear steps on what we’re going to do.

Number 10 engagement strategy. If you want people to talk to you and share your stuff you’ve probably enough have to think about doing that first.

If you expect people to behave in certain ways around your content on social media then you should kind of show people what you want from them by doing it first. So if you want people to comment on your blogs use your blog to comment on other people’s blogs.

If you love people joining your Facebook group and having conversations about a specific topic then maybe you as an individual or you as an organisation can reach out to moderators in other groups that are relevant and start to contribute to those groups too.

How are you going to find the people that you want to talk to and make that approach first? Because if you do this kind of build it and they will come approach, it’s much harder to grow your audience.

If you actively seek out the kind of people that you want to talk to and start to like and retweet their content start to talk to them, then your strategy is going to really help you make much bigger gains.

Eleven, your internal plan and a skills analysis. So an internal plan is about the decisions to do with your staff. Are they going to be staff advocates that use social media that on behalf of your organisation, they can talk to their own little mini communities. Or is it something that comes in and maybe customer service use only.

How are you going to keep everyone comfortable and confident in what they’re doing. Are you going to do internal training sessions, lunch time learnings and those kind of things.

They’re things to decide in your strategy as well to show and prove and be sure that you’re giving everyone all of the skills and guidance that they need.

Also have a look at your own communications team and do a skills analysis. Who’s great at making video? Who’s brilliant at doing analytics? Who loves writing? These kind of things, you know, you might kind of know it around the team.

But make a list of it and try and spot some gaps. Where do you need extra skills. And that might be bringing someone in or it might be just training up someone in the team to be able to do it.

But make sure that all of the skills that you need in the team are there, and the people who are enthusiastic about certain areas get to have a go at the thing that they’re good at.

If you feel like you’re a brilliant writer and you see someone else writing all the time is not great for morale and it’s a waste of that talent. So do make sure that you’re trying to give everyone a chance to shine on social media.

Number twelve comes quite nicely on from the skills analysis, resources. So what resources do you need to do this? And this is a brilliant opportunity with your social media strategy to say I’ve made the case for all the things that are going to do and here’s what we need to do it.

Much easier to ask for things like new equipment, social media management software, whatever it is that you want, training, after you’ve made a case for it, than to just kind of ask for it.

So make sure that you’re clear on the things that you need to achieve everything that you’ve talked about up until this point.

So there are 12 steps and 12 things that you need to have in your strategy. Are there any things that you’re thinking about that you could include in your strategy as well?

Tell us tell us on social media. We’d love to hear that. We’d love to hear as well what you’re doing as you make your social media strategy. How do you feel about it. What’s the internal response to it. What are the expectations that you have. Tell us all we want to hear it.

There is a checklist that you can download as well so that you can just as you go along, make sure that you’re comfortable, that you’ve covered all the bases.

And that’s it for this lesson, I’ll see you on the next one.

Your tutor – Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds is an award-winning social media and digital communications pro. Her social media training has seen amazing results for participants, who go on to be more strategic, create better content and grow engaged audiences for their organisations.

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