The need for getting involved in social media has become so important that many website and business owners are jumping in without properly defining their game plan, which as the saying goes, is pretty much planning to fail. In this article we’ll take a look at the steps to take in developing or refining your strategic approach to social media marketing.

Define Your Goals

Social Media Planning Mindmap

The first step in developing power social media strategy is to define exactly what you’re looking to accomplish. Without this crucial first step, there’s no way to tell where you’re heading, why you’re heading there, or if it’s good, bad or indifferent. Somehow, this is one of the most overlooked steps in the process, which leads to a lot of time wasted on social.

Your goals should be related to business goals, such as lead generation, sales, building authority and customer service. Define now what you look to accomplish. This can always change, but there has to be a direction to follow to make progress.

Monitor and Listen

Even though you may already be listening to your market, it’s always beneficial to step back and find out what your target audience is doing, where they are, what you’re competitors are doing to in terms of content marketing, and have a good overall grasp of how you can differentiate yourself.

Tools for monitoring:

  • Alerts – Use alerts through services like Google Alerts or Topsy.com to receive notifications to stay on top of new content on keywords related to your market on the web and throughout the social sphere.
  • RSS Reader – While Google Reader is being retired, it’s still a good idea to stay up-to-date on your market and competitors. An RSS reader allows you streamlined access to the content that matters to you in a consolidated location.
  • Stats and Analytics – Use a tool to track analytics and stats, such as Google Analytics or Clicky to monitor your site and social performance.

Pick Your Platform

There are plenty of social networks out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to be active on all of them. Pick the ones that make sense and be effective there, rather than setting up camp on all, but have little effect on any. It’s a good idea to focus on one as your hub or home base for social, and maintain some activity at secondary sites.

You may want to choose which one is your focus based on where your target market spends their time, as well as where you’re most active and comfortable. And while it helps to set up shop on a site that you’re comfortable on, make sure it makes sense for business purposes. For example, you may prefer browsing fun stuff on Pinterest, but if you’re dealing with B2B and LinkedIn makes more sense, then do what makes sense.

Stay Tuned

So there lies the first few steps in developing a plan of action on social. In part two, we’ll look into content development and tracking and measuring your efforts, which will tie back to elements that we’ve already covered.