An ad-hoc approach to using social media often results in infrequent activity and inconsistent messaging. Without a firm strategy in place, it’s nearly impossible to gain traction with an online audience. Successful implementation of a social media strategy depends on planning. Before you get started, here are seven things you should consider:
What do you want to achieve?
At the outset, decide what you want your social networking activity to deliver. Ideally, you want to create a network of people who communicate with you and share your core message through their extended communities. Instead of simply broadcasting information about your event, you should aim to start and lead conversations around any number of topics being covered in your conference.
What are you going to say?
The hallmark of an ad-hoc approach is lack of quality content. Without content, all you’re really doing is chatting. Broadcasting links to your event isn’t good enough, either – to be truly effective, you must deliver informative content to your prospective delegates. The more entertaining you can make it, the better.
Who’s going to run your social media activity?
One of the biggest – and potentially disastrous – errors is having the wrong people manage your social media activity. Often the youngest and most inexperienced staff are tasked with this, but while they may understand how to use a specific tool, they do not have the wisdom or business sense to manage your brand with a global audience.
How are you going to handle criticism?
Make no mistake, you will find detractors in your digital travels. Whether it is the topic of an event, a controversial speaker or a disgruntled delegate, you need to decide how you’re going to handle criticism before you enter the cyber fray.
Are you prepared to invest the time required?
You need to dedicate both time and budget to benefit from social networking. Current research shows a minimum investment of six hours a week is required to influence your target audience. The most successful practitioners are spending more than 20 hours a week. Initially, you should plan to allocate at least 11 hours a week on social media split into segments of 2-3 hours per day.
What channels are you going to use?
The four most popular channels for business are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogs (see chart below). But each channel has its own personality and conversations. You must discover where your potential delegates spend most of their time and dedicate your activity to that channel. Once you’ve achieved engagement and feel confident about the health of your network, start a new network on a different tool.
How are you going to manage it?
Do not link your tools to each other. Social media users expect you to be engaged and that won’t happen if you’re posting to several points from a central location. You’re in a far better position if you master one or two channels really well.
How do you measure success or failure?
Like any good marketing activity, you should be tracking your progress – in each channel, and overall. Most tools now offer analytics, making it very easy to tell what’s working and what isn’t.
Sarah Mitchell is a content marketing consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org