It’s opening night, and your theater company is ready to take the stage. The hum of the audience chatting as they take their seats mirrors the nervous excitement of the ensemble. As the curtain opens and the actors start reciting their lines, they quickly realize they had been reading from different scripts.
The resulting cacophony is a mix between Shakespear’s Othello, Phantom of the Opera, and The Play That Goes Wrong. The audience leaves the theater in utter confusion, not sure of what they just heard.
In actuality, this theater company would never take the stage without reading from the same script and rehearsing their performance. Your company shouldn’t either.
Many businesses take the stage of social media without scripting and rehearsing their performance. Before you step on that social stage, a social media strategy can be the difference between a collection of seemingly unrelated posts, and presenting a compelling brand story that weaves seamlessly through all of your content.
What is included in a social media strategy?
At Wildfire, we call our social media strategy a social media playbook. Much like a sports team uses a playbook to dictate how the players should operate, our playbook includes guideposts that set consistent vision, strategy, and tactics across channels. It should define your goals, audience, brand voice, channel and content strategy, and more. Our clients have greatly improved their social media performance with a strategy playbook, content development, and execution. No two playbooks are identical, because each company and audience is unique. But there are a few guiding principles that always apply.
How a social media playbook benefits your business
1. Align your social media strategy to your brand’s values and business goals
We’ve all seen the results of brands trying to increase engagement without considering business goals. Of course cute cat videos are going to generate tons of likes and shares! But what is the end result for your brand? Unless your company sells cat products, you won’t build an audience who cares about you or wants to learn about your product or service.
Social media strategy should flow out of shared vision, values, and goals – not the other way around.
2. Create consistency of voice and visual aesthetics across channels.
Stylistically, a social media feed is a little bit like a patchwork quilt. Each block is unique in itself, however it has to fit into the broader pattern, color, and style of the entire work. Together, each part contributes to the beauty of the whole picture. If each team member is using a different style, your quilt might be a mix of shabby chic and New England traditional.
With a clearly defined voice and aesthetic, your audience will quickly recognize and relate to your brand in the crowded social media environment.
3. Identify and understand your audience, their motivations, and behavior on each platform.
Who are we conversing with? The answer to this question informs what you share, how you share it, and how often. Make sure everyone on your team understands this, and your content will more successfully reach your business goals.
Fulfilling the expectations of YOUR unique audience leads to more meaningful engagement for both the brand and social media community.
4. Outline a content strategy and tactics for creating, sourcing, and/or obtaining that content.
An effective content strategy will engage your target audience, addressing their wants and needs, motivating them to go further with your brand. Once you decide what topics your social media will feature, you should clearly map out who will collect, create, and publish the content you need.
A popular management adage goes something like this: “When it’s everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job.” The same applies to social media content – get specific on roles and responsibilities.
5. Set community management guidelines and a critical and crisis communications plan
Building a community doesn’t happen by accident, and social media is a two-way street. How will you go about attracting new followers and cultivating those relationships? Additionally, how will you respond when people don’t engage the way you thought they would or should?
Set a plan for how to respond to your advocates as well as those with genuine complaints – and the dreaded trolls. If every social media contributor knows the plan, there is less opportunity for a misstep.
How to use your social media playbook
Present the playbook as training for those who are managing social media. Also, share with every person in the organization so everyone can begin to think about contributing content – through the process set out in your social media playbook, of course.
We’ve all been asked the question. “How is social media affecting our bottom line?” Many times there are tangible connections between social media and sales, but sometimes the impact can’t be tracked directly with UTM codes and analytics. Since your playbook aligns with your business goals, show them how social media fits into your marketing stack as an important and valuable contribution.
Use it. Evaluate it. Evolve it.
Now that you have this playbook to guide strategy and execution, don’t just put it in a drawer and turn on the autopilot. Periodically review and evaluate your efforts to make sure they are staying true to your strategy. Likewise, review your playbook and adjust and change as needed. If a particular strategy isn’t getting results, try something else! And lastly, make sure to update your playbook as the world of social media evolves.
Taking the next step
If you know you need a social media strategy and you’re not sure how to go about it, Wildfire can help. We’re proud to have helped many businesses set their course for success through strategy, content development, and implementation. Contact us for a complimentary social media consultation.