10 Steps to develop your Social Media strategy

I’ve seen a lot of social media guides recently, so in many ways this article is perhaps just jumping on the bandwagon, but one of the common themes I’ve encountered in a lot of these presentation is the lack of broad strategic thinking behind why and how to engage your customers with social media. They have tended to focus very heavily on the tactics - let’s use Twitter, here’s a great Facebook fan page rather than focusing on objective driven goals.

The first thing that strikes me in preparing this is that social media actually isn’t media, and while definitions are not clear and you’ll see as many different descriptions of what it is as you’ll meet people to discuss their opinions. I’ve worked with clients in the US, Europe and Asia on what we call social media (note: earlier than 2006 we just called it web2.0, and before 2004 we called it emerging media). Essentially social media is a true reflection of the 2-way media that the internet promised since it became commercial - and we’ve seen this in the earliest bulletin boards and web forums for the last ten years so it’s not really that new..

..the point is that the social part of the internet has always been around, the fact that new platforms and technologies have made it easier to share our thoughts (blogger etc), show our lives (flickr etc) and describe our activities (facebook etc) have led to this explosion in social media for the masses. 

There is however a temptation for social media experts to rely too much on their own personal experiences - I’ve encountered many more self proclaimed experts than genuine thought leaders, most of whom relate to their having a Facebook and Twitter account and thinking this is the start and end of the conversation. That’s not to say this isn’t important, but without experimentation and customer research and listening posts chances are you’ll be not making the most of the opportunities.

Rather than try to list out my recommended process using text, I’m turning to a social channel, one that I use a lot for business because it provides a rich platform for sharing ideas to clients and prospect clients: Slideshare. By uploading presentations to Slideshare and sharing on their site and syndicated through Linkedin to my contact database and through this blog I’m able to share creative ideas to you the reader, which for me is far easier than writing dull text.

The ideas presented in this deck are intended to highlight the similarities between developing a digital strategy and developing a social media strategy - it’s all related and I encourage you to explore your existing processes to extend your use and leverage of the [social] digital platforms. The ideas are based on a framework that integrates a measurement planning process and is intended to help frame ideas under a research / observation based umbrella.

Note I don’t cover off everything here, notable exceptions include: stakeholder buy-in and budget allocation as well as deep insight into the various forms of communication and the platforms available: for this I encourage you to explore relevant channels for your business keeping the customer at the centre of your ideation process. Enjoy! I’d recommend viewing the deck in full screen to ensure all text / images can be seen.

It looks like this is a timely article as Google shows us that 2010 is the year of social media! Hope this helps you develop and crystallise ideas that are not only strategic, but also measurable. 

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