I often have people call me to ask if I can help them with Facebook. The simple answer is yes, but then I ask why they want to use Facebook. Usually, the response is “everyone else is doing it so I feel like we should too”. Er, no. Wrong answer.
Let me be clear. Facebook is not a business strategy. It’s a tactic. A tactic that can definitely help you achieve your business goals and fulfil your strategy, but Facebook alone IS NOT A STRATEGY. Sorry for shouting. Sometimes it’s the only way this message is going to get through.
It reminds me of one of my worst ever jobs. I was asked to produce a brochure for a massive change program I was comms manager for. When I asked why, my boss said the CEO wanted one. When I asked the CEO why he told me “everyone says we need one”. Everyone except the communication manager… Next, I asked him who the target audience for this brochure was. His response – everyone.
It was a nightmare waiting to happen.
You know what happened next, don’t you? That’s right. It took over six months to write a below-average four-page brochure that achieved NOTHING because they the decision makers couldn’t agree on what it had to say in order to please everyone. It was such a massive waste of time and money, not to mention all that paper that was printed and then just sat in boxes, unused.
I hear you asking, so how do I make Facebook work? Well, you need to make it part of your communication and social media strategy.
A well thought-out social media strategy is essential for organisations today. However, it should not be written in isolation – first and foremost, it needs to strategically align with your overarching business strategy and your marketing communication strategy.
Be aware that it doesn’t need to be 20, 30 or 40 pages long. Some of the more successful strategies I’ve seen, particularly for smaller organisations, are only three or four pages.
How to write a simple social media strategy
All social media strategies should include the following sections:
- Introduction and any relevant research. If your social media strategy needs to be signed off by your senior management team or board, and they don’t have a strong understanding of the value of using social media, then consider including data from the Sensis Social Media Report outlining how Australians use social media. Also include:
- an overview of environmental and market trends
- an analysis of your competitors
- how your social media strategy aligns with your strategic, marketing and membership plans
- a brief overview of the social media activities you currently undertake
- any internal issues you need to highlight.
- Goals. What do you want to your social media strategy to achieve?
- Target audience. It’s important you are clear on who your target audience is, as this impacts the type of content you create and where you share it. Segment your target audience into:
- Demographics: Age, gender, where they live/work, how educated they are, where they are in their career.
- Geography: Are they local, national or international.
- Psychographics: Look at what they value. What are their attitudes towards your industry, sector and organisation?
Know when and where your audience hangs out on social media. Be as specific as you can, as this will save you time and money when developing content to solve their problems.
- Digital landscape. Your digital landscape represents where you have a presence online. At the centre of this is your website, with all the other elements either driving traffic to your website or taking content from your website. Identify where social media fits in, and which channels you might use.
- Social media channels and tactics. There are many social media channels you can use, however, if you are new to social media, I strongly suggest you start with just one. And yes, it might be Facebook. But you need to know who your target audience is and where they hang out before making that decision.
- Risk analysis. A lot of the organisations I have worked with are highly risk-averse, so a risk analysis can help mitigate fear. Demonstrate you have thought about what could go wrong, and articulate the steps you will take to mitigate the risks.
- Resources. Although it’s free to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the rest, there is a cost in terms of time, and a financial cost if you choose to use many of third-party tools that are available – tools such as image-creation and editing sites; video-editing software; stock photos or photo shoots; scheduling tools; and social listening tools.
- An action plan. Arguably, the action plan is the most important part of your strategy. In its most simple form, your action plan is a to-do list. It should set out who does what, how content is created, where and when it is posted, and the metrics for each.
- Measurement and metrics. Your social media strategy should include metrics that gauge likes, comments and shares, reach, the nature of engagement (positive, negative, supportive, etc.), and how traffic is driven to your website.
Once you have done this, you can create your Facebook page. Or not.
If you need help with your communication and social media strategy, please get in touch.