7 Things to Include in Your Brand’s Social Media Strategy

It’s a new year and I’m excited to see what brands will do on social media platforms in 2014. From amazing campaigns and content to crises, no doubt brands will again show us the good, the bad, and the ugly side of social media. By now brands should have their marketing strategies in place but what should a brand include for its social media strategy? Every brand is unique, but there are some basic things every brand should consider:

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1. Your objectives

Let’s start with the basics. Why is your brand on social media? Are you working towards something in particular? Every brand should have clear goals and objectives that its social media activity is trying to achieve. If the brand didn’t achieve its 2013 objectives, ask yourself why and adjust 2014 objectives accordingly. If you over achieved last year’s objectives, consider making the 2014 objectives more rigorous. When reviewing social media objectives, ensure they follow the SMART criteria of being: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

2. Where your customers are talking

Communications 101 – go to where your customers are. The same applies to social media and how a brand engages with its current (and potential) customers. A lot can change in a year, including how and when people use different social media platforms. As new social media platforms continue to grow in popularity and gain more users, perhaps your brand need to consider setting up an official presence on these emerging platforms. For example, Medium, Chirpify, Sina Weibo, SnapChat, etc? Begin the year by spending some time using whatever social media listening tools you have at your brand’s disposal. Listen to consumers to determine what social platforms they’re chatting on, what they’re saying about your brand, products and services. In order to do this effectively you’ll also need to clearly define your target audience for 2014. If a significant amount of people are no longer mentioning your brand, products or services on a particular platform, ask yourself if your existing strategy and objectives are still relevant for that platform. There’s no point in a brand setting up an official presence on Instagram, Pinterest, or a forum if none of your target audience are there.

3. Your un-owned and earned social media strategy

A brand should never underestimate the power of a brand-related user generated blog post or a forum full of advocates/detractors. Too many brands these days are ignoring un-owned and earned media online. Instead they focus their efforts on owned media they can strongly influence and control. By now the large majority of brands have their own official and controlled presence across social platforms but what about those online platforms that the brand doesn’t control? Are there certain influential bloggers that the brand should consider reaching out to in 2014? Are there advocates with their own social influence that the brand should consider reaching out to ? Brands need a social media strategy for un-owned and earned channels, not just owned social channels.

4. Your ability to quickly publish content

Last year saw a lot of brands “newsjacking”, quickly posting up content relating to a breaking news story or a trending topic. One of the most popular newsjacking examples from 2013 was Oreo’s reaction to a power outage during the Superbowl. Social platforms are also changing to favor this type of content. Last December, Facebook changed its newsfeed algorithm to start favoring more timeline relevant posts in the newsfeed. When it comes to social content in 2014, brands must have the ability to quickly produce timely and relevant content. Access what listening tools and human resources you have in house to help identify newsjacking opportunities. Also ensure you have a rigorous process in place so the brand can quickly create content, get it approved, and post it.

5. Your budget

For a brand to “do social media” properly, it does require some budget. The obvious one is resourcing, which should include budget to train and further educate the brand’s social media team. A brand can spend tens of thousands of dollars on big social media tools and applications, but if they haven’t got the right staff using them, then it’s a waste of money. Content (whether responsive or broadcast) may also be expensive to produce. In order for a brand to execute its 2014 social media strategy, it will need some allocated budget to make it happen. Social Media Today suggests budgeting for social media by splitting costs into variable and fixed.

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6. Your crisis management strategy

Altimeter Group reports that year on year social media crises are on the rise. As more brands do more on social media, the likelihood of crises occurring increases. Ask yourself if your brand has strategies and processes in place to identify, acknowledge, communicate, and deal with social media crises. A brand can plan whatever social campaigns they want, but when they have a crisis on their hands, those campaigns can be worthless if the crisis is not quickly identified and dealt with in a timely manner. The brand’s Public Relations and Corporate Affairs teams need to be aware of potential social media incidents that could occur and should be involved in any response.

7. Results and ROI

How is your brand measuring social media success in 2014? More importantly, what social media metrics are you measuring and how often? It’s time brands start to get serious about tracking the real results of a brand’s social media activities. A couple of questions worth asking: can the brand track online traffic and direct conversations? If not, is there a way to put a dollar figure on the amount of online reach the brand is achieving on social media? Is there a strategy to build more infrastructure and analytics capability in order to be able to help track either direct or indirect online actions? Are there direct actions a brand can track as a result of a social media campaign that can be attributed to revenue? These days brands have access to more and more social media data and 2014 should be the year brands start to put values (direct or indirect) to their social media activity.

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