I often think the importance of a social media strategy on an ongoing basis can be a little overstated. Too many people look at it as a mammoth bible that should be consulted at every twist and turn to make sure that social media is staying on track. There is some truth to this, but in my opinion, social media efforts need to be reliant on opportunities, trends and technologies which necessarily cannot be comprehensively covered in a social media strategy – simply because you may not be aware of them when you are writing it.

Before I get ahead of myself, I do have to clarify that YES, I THINK YOU NEED A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY. I am not advocating that everyone should run out and set up social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest and the rest with no clear vision as to how, why or what to do afterward. You need to write a social media strategy before you do too much in this space. However, it needn’t be a mammoth task or a 200-page document.

It seems like a lot of people put off writing their social strategy because they are not quite sure how to tackle it, exactly what information needs to be included, how much detail they should go into or even where they should start.  In actual fact, the very act of writing your social media strategy is probably more important than the strategy itself. It forces you to think about what you want to achieve and to do some genuine research into how you’re going to do it. You can consider the amount of money you want to budget and come up with the smartest ways to use it.

So, without further adieu, here are some tips for writing a comprehensive social media strategy – and the good news is that it’s really pretty easy, and you can do it within a day. If you want more detailed help, I am running a how-to-write comprehensive social media strategy webinar in a couple of weeks that takes you through the step-by-step process of writing the actual article. But here are some tips for a quick DIY job:

1. Consider your strategy audience. Who will be reading your strategy? Is it just for your reference, or do you need to submit it to managers, board members, CEOs, staff members or your mum? Like anything you do, shape the length, tone and language according to the audience.

2. Complete an audit of your current social activity first. If you’ve already started delving into the social media space, you should write up a quick audit of this. What have you done so far? What channels are you using? How have these worked? How are you measuring up to your competitors? What internal processes are involved currently? Which staff members have had input so far? Put together a couple of pages – either in a proper audit doc or even as dot points that give a good overview of your current social media situation and background. This will be very useful to start your social strategy off.

3. What do you want to achieve? Start thinking about what your actual social media objectives are. Do you want more sales? Better customer service? PR? Insights? Customer rapport? Map out what you’re looking to achieve through social media.

4. How much time do you have? Are you doing all the social media efforts yourself, or do you have a team? How much of your day can you devote to your social presence? You really need to use your time wisely, so if you don’t have much of it, you’re better off doing less but doing it really well instead of being across every single channel but doing none well.

5. Who is your audience, and where are they? Pretty straightforward. Figure out who your audience is and do a bit of research to determine what social channels they are using

6. What are your competitors doing? This one is important. Do some competitor stalking and figure out where they are in the social media strategy life cycle. Then aim to do better.

7.  What are the current trends in your marketplace? What about the social media space? Just like your normal business/marketing strategies, it helps to get a good idea of what is actually happening out there.

8.  What strengths does your business have? Weaknesses? What opportunities are there or threats? Yep, a good SWOT analysis always helps the strategy go down. The strategy goes down. The strategy goes down.

9.  What is your budget? Seriously, do you have any money you can put towards your social strategy? Because if you do, it’s going to help achieve your objectives and KPIs.

10. What does success look like? This relates to your objectives, but a good strategy should map out targets/KPIs or whatever you want to call them so you can actually figure out if you’re getting anywhere in 3-6 months or if it was all a waste of your time.

Once you’ve asked yourselves these questions, you then need to map out what your overall strategy is – and this may just be three or four key ‘approaches’ you want to take to get there like ‘expansion of social media communities’ could be one, with a few dot points underneath on how you propose to do it.

Just remember not to get too bogged down in detail – your social media strategy shouldn’t be about the number of posts you are going to do every week or even what is going to be in them (this could be included in a specific content strategy though)– it’s about who is looking after your social efforts, what channels you’re going to use and how you’re going to use them to achieve your objectives. It’s not that hard!

 If you want to find out more, you can register (there are about 10 spots left) for my ‘How to write a comprehensive social media strategy’ webinar coming up on 17 April. During the 1.5hrs I will go step by step through each section of your social media strategy so that once the webinar ends, you can sit down and literally write your own immediately. I will also answer any questions you have! So much value for so little time/money….?

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By shawn