Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Diagnose the Health of Your Social Media Strategy

When you’re sick it’s very easy to tell. You may have aches and pains, a fever, sore throat ... the list of symptoms goes on and on.
Online marketing ailments, however, may not be so easy to identify.
You may be posting on a regular basis and growing your list of fans, friends, and followers. But is it really enough?
A healthy social media strategy will take into consideration the needs of your prospects and customers, as well as finding ways to efficiently plan, track, and measure your efforts.
But the question remains, how can you really determine if your social media strategy has a pulse?

Social Media Health Checklist

What Do You Know About Your Audience?

If you have ever frequented a particular coffee shop or restaurant, there are likely a few baristas or waitresses that know you by name. In addition to knowing your name, you may find that your coffee is already made and waiting for you by the time you get to the counter. Why? Certain employees have a knack for remembering what their customers like and want to make them feel welcome and special.
Similarly, we can translate these real world in-person examples to our online interaction with customers. While you may not “see” them as often, you should be paying attention to how key prospects and customers are interacting with your social media profiles.
If a large portion of your audience always Likes or comments on images with interesting quotes or taglines, then you should probably be sure to include them regularly (in a meaningful way as part of your larger strategy).
A few key items you should find out about your customers:
  • What time of day are they most likely to interact?
  • Which social sites do they frequent most often?
  • What types of content seem to be the most engaging?
Score Yourself:
1 – I know nothing about my customers
2 – I know a little about my customers
3 – I know a moderate amount about my customers
4 – I know a lot about my customers
5 – I know everything about my customers

Are Your Fans, Friends, and Followers Engaged?

When you’re sitting around the table with a group of friends or colleagues chances are your dialogue consists of storytelling, fact sharing, asking and answering questions, and so on. Likewise, your social media strategy should involve a compilation of tactics that will appeal to your audience.
Different content types that you might consider sharing with your audience include:
  • Videos
  • Comics
  • SlideShare presentations
  • White papers
  • Links to webinars
  • Graphics
  • Questions
  • Relevant news articles
Discovering what types of information engage your online audience is only part of the battle. To truly have an impact you must keep your eyes open at all times and respond quickly to comments or questions posed by your followers.
Score Yourself:
1 – I never interact with my fans, friends, and followers
2 – I interact with my network occasionally
3 – I interact with my network a moderate amount
4 – I interact with my network regularly
5 – I interact with my customers online everyday

Do You Have a Plan in Place?

In order to determine where you’re going, you have to know where you are. While a portion of your social media engagement should be dependent on sharing breaking industry news with your audience, you can also plan ahead days, weeks, or even months to lessen the daily workload.
Hubspot offers a great social media planning calendar which allows you to input the date and time you would like to publish articles for particular social sites, and will auto calculate the number of characters in your post. Even if you are utilizing a third party service such as HootSuiteSprout Social, or SocialOomph it is still a good idea to plan out your strategy in a document such as the one mentioned above.
Creating a long-term social calendar will allow for planning that integrates with your overarching marketing and communications plan. By integrating with your marketing strategy you will be able to better target and predict social interactions and announcements.
Score Yourself:
1 – I do not have a social media strategy
2 – I don’t plan my social media posts
3 – I plan some of my posts ahead but most are found the day the publish
4 – I plan many of my posts a couple days or weeks ahead
5 – I already utilize a social media planning calendar

What Are Others Saying About You and More Importantly, How Are You Responding?

A recent Fast Company article describes social media listening as “an active process of paying attention to what someone else is saying.” The article also goes on to share that many companies do not do nearly enough listening because it is more complicated to take that approach, and it requires identifying the context in which things may be said.
Sometimes you may strike it rich and find a lot of positive mentions of your brand that can be reposted on company social profiles and those of participating employees.
Other times however, social media listening proves to be a great way to identify negative feedback or interactions about your brand. If you do stumble upon less than savory mentions of your brand it is imperative that you respond to those that you can instead of simply ignoring or deleting them.
Many organizations large and small have experienced severe backlash from either reacting too strongly to a comment or mention, or removing them entirely.
Score Yourself:
1 – I have no idea what others are saying about my brand online
2 – I monitor my brand occasionally
3 – I monitor my brand regularly but do not respond to comments
4 – I monitor my brand fairly regularly and respond to positive comments
5 – I monitor my brand regularly and respond to most comments (positive and negative)

How Healthy is Your Social Media Strategy?

While the items listed above aren't all of the pieces to the social media marketing puzzle, identifying how you measure up in each of these areas will put you down the path to improving your social strategy. Tally up your points from the sections above to determine if your social media strategy has a pulse, or needs reviving.
1 – 5: D.O.A.
Your social media strategy is practically nonexistent. As soon as you’re done reading this blog post, begin researching your customers and social platforms, and start putting together the makings of a social media strategy.
6 - 10: Barely Breathing
You put a minimal amount of effort into knowing your customers and creating content that appeals to them. While you may be squeaking by at the moment, it will be short lived. You will find that your competition will quickly begin surpassing your social skills.
11 - 15: Clean Bill of Health
You’ve done your due diligence to make yourself aware of who your customers are, what they care about, how to engage them, as well as what the perception is of your brand online. Keep up the good work and continue to evolve your social media strategy as you notice changes in your industry or the habits of your customers.


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