As a child, I grew up playing sports, card games and board games with my family, especially my father and brother. We were highly competitive and often wagered money (or chores) on the outcome of our matches, much to the chagrin of my mother.
Like most people, I liked money and hated chores, so losing really got to me. One day I applied a specific strategy in a game of Monopoly … and it paid off, I won. And I kept on winning, or giving myself a better chance of winning, whenever I applied a game strategy.
That was a great feeling and, more importantly, a life lesson– having a plan/strategy helped me succeed. That lesson still lives with me today as I try to apply strategic thinking to everything I do, including my work.
Why use social media
The financial services industry has been slow to adopt social media for various reasons, but times are changing, and just in time. According to a study by Pew Research Center, Internet search is the leading source of information for consumers making decisions with respect to local businesses. If you’re not there, you’re missing opportunities.
Why it’s important to have a social media strategy
So I’m surprised every time I hear about a business or individual using social media without a plan. Without a plan, how do you know:
- Who your target audience is?
- What content you want to share and when?
- Where to deploy the content (i.e. where are your customers)?
- Why you’re using social media?
- How to measure your results (i.e. determine if your time/money is being well spent)?
Creating a social media strategy can address all of these questions, so take the time to draft a plan. Yes, actually write it down and use it as your guide. Review your plan periodically and revise it as you go. You’ll learn that some things work, some don’t and some simply need tweaking.
What to include in your social media plan
- Background – this includes the current business environment, any research you’ve uncovered (i.e. what social platforms your audiences use most) and the opportunity.
- Objectives – what are you trying to accomplish? Be specific and be sure your objectives are measurable and time-bound if possible. Example: Increase our presence/voice on social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn) by 20% over the next six months.
- Audiences – identify the people you want to target with your social media efforts.
- Strategies – these help you define what and how you’ll meet your objectives. Example: Identify online discussion forums, chats and groups that prospective clients or influential stakeholders regularly use.
- Tactics – once you know your strategies, drill down exactly how you’re going to accomplish each strategy. Example: Participate in XYC Chat every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon using company Twitter account.
- Success Measures – identify criteria to gauge the success of your strategy. Consider hard measures, like the number of website views, and soft measures, such as participating in X online chats. And commit to a periodic, ongoing assessment or you’re not going to have a good pulse on what’s working and what’s not.
Creating a strategy does not mean success!
Creating a social media strategy does not ensure success, but it’ll give you a road map to follow — and a good one at that considering you’ve thought things through and done your homework. I am confident you’ll have a better chance of succeeding with a strategy than without one, much like I did competing against my family.
Completing a social media plan is just the first step in the process. Before you implement, you should also have a content strategy, which I’ll cover in my next blog post.
Have you had more success taking a strategic approach? What tips do you have for creating a social media strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter.
For more information, check me out on Twitter, where I regularly share social media tips, advice, trends and more, including how to build your business with social. Follow me at @jonferchen.
Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company, member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.
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