How to develop a social media strategy – part four

If you’re going to get the most out of social media then you need a clear strategy.

Social Media is a great tool – and potentially a great time swallower too! So it’s a good idea to have a strategy for your business social media campaign – before you start.

Over the last three months we have gradually gone through the steps needed to create a coherent strategy, and in this, the final part, we’ll look at automation and measurement.

Once you get started with social media you can soon realise that if you’re not careful it can really eat into your time. Most people’s initial reaction is “I don’t have enough hours in the day!” After all you have work to do to run your business – the sort of work that pays the bills! You need to make social media work for you but not let take over your life.

And this is where automation can come in. As with so many things in life there is a balance to be had here. Some activities lend themselves to automation, others are best executed with a more personal touch!

Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) is a great automation tool. At its entry level it is free and it has lots of useful functionality. You can schedule your Tweets, as well as your status updates for Facebook and LinkedIn from one interface. So it’s a great time saver.

You can also create lists within Hootsuite so your feeds become easier to read. For example create a list with all your clients so you can quickly scroll through and see what your clients are saying without getting distracted by updates from friends and other people you follow outside your business.

It’s worth spending a little time getting to know Hootsuite – even at the free level it can make quite a difference to the management of tour social media activity.

I use it schedule non-time-specific tweets, read and retweet updates from friends and clients, and direct message people I’d like to talk to.

Another automation tool to check out is Social Oomph www.socialoomph.com . The feature I find most useful (and yes, it’s free) is the ‘keyword digest’. You can select up to 50 keywords (or phrases if you put the words within “quote marks”) and each day SocialOomph will email you a list of the tweets containing these keywords. I use it to track mentions of my company and my clients.

Another time saver (although not strictly automation) is to set up the ability to tweet from your mobile. Either do this within Twitter or, if you have a smart-phone, then download the Twitter app. Then you can tweet on the move – this is a great way of using “down time” and also making your tweets very personal and topical!

There are apps for most social networking sites, so make a point of downloading to your phone the ones you use most often for your business.

There are lots of little ways to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media so keep your eyes open for new developments and spend a little bit of time exploring the options.

Finally, you really need to measure the impact of your social media…

There are tools that will help you do this and of course it’s tempting to base your measurements on the number of new followers and friends, but is this really a useful measurement?

Go back to the very start of your social media strategy plan (see article one) and look at the reasons you decided to use social media in the first place. What did you want to achieve? Use this is as the basis for creating measurements that actually mean something to you and your business – not just a score of “popularity” to massage your ego.

Klout (www.klout.com) can give you an idea of your impact on social media. It’s an interesting and, to some extent, useful measurement based on criteria like the number of times your tweets get retweeted. Personally I think it’s worth keeping an eye on, but I don’t think it’s a “one stop” solution. It’s far more important to measure criteria that tell you what you need to know. If your target audience is mums, then 1000s of retirees following you and retweeting probably isn’t getting you the results you want from your social media.

So pick the criteria that mean most to you and then track how you score against them.

Keep a record of your “scores” and revisit and revise your strategy accordingly. I’d recommend giving a new activity time to bed in and develop results. Chopping and changing very week won’t give you time to really measure results and will confuse your audience. So make a decision and commit to it for a period.

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Read the whole series:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

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About Chantal Cooke;
Chantal is an award winning journalist and broadcaster. She has been using social media to promote her work since 1996 and has been helping clients harness its power for the last 3 years. Chantal combines her journalistic skills – to createcompelling and engaging content – with her knowledge of social media platforms. Together this delivers an effective social media strategy that works for both the client and the audience. Chantal believes that using social media is not about creating noise, it’s about creating content and then delivering that content to a targeted audience in a format they wish to engage with. See: www.prdemystified.com

 

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