Talk presented 14 Septemer 2012, Lincoln, UK
6 simple steps
My approach is to produce a strategy for online social interactions in 6 simple steps:
- Research: find out what your customers want and what your competitors are doing
- Define your brand: establish what you want to portray to people
- Produce strategy: see below
- Invest time implementing your strategy
- Review: judge your performance against some specific KPIs
- Adjust and repeat: adjust your approach and continue
Researching Your Customers and Competition & Defining Your Brand
Before you can write your strategy, you need to know your customers and know your company. You need to be honest about your current position; if you can’t be truthful, this process won’t work. We want the actual position, not some fantasy world that your company lives in.
I’ve found that getting an outsider to ask the questions to someone in senior management over the phone (or in person) works well: having an outsider asking the questions means they can probe a little bit deeper to ensure that the truth is obtained. But, you could do it with someone internal if you can trust people to be open and honest.
Here is my list of generic questions that I use as a starting point. Feel free to add your own too. The answers to these questions will give an outsider an idea about your company: what you do, where interactions between the company and users would benefit both parties, etc.
- Does the brand currently have a social media strategy of any kind? If so, can I have a look?
- Does the brand currently use any form of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Flikr, Tumblr, WordPress…)? If so, what?
- Do you personally use any form of social media?
- What do you think of social media in general?
- What has stopped you using social media (more) in the past?
- If you used to use social media in the past, but stopped, why did you stop?
- What problems have you experienced when using social media in the past?
- What outcome of using social media tools would you see as justifying getting involved? Do you have any thoughts on what you hope might happen?
- What do you expect to see change as a result of using social media more?
- Who are your customers? Trade and/or public? What is the split?
- If you are you a global brand, what is the split by countries in terms of customers and revenue?
- What is the profile of your typical customer (age, gender, nationality, etc)?
- Who do you want to engage: public customers or trade or both?
- Is there a market/demographic that you’d like to engage more? Why?
- What do your customers currently talk about in relation to your brand? This doesn’t necessarily have to be on the web, it could be face-to-face or articles in the press)
- What would you like your customers to be saying about you?
- What do you want your customers to be sharing about you? (e.g. giving reviews about your product, talking about your deals/promotions, sharing photos/videos about you, etc)
- What is your biggest fear that your customers might be saying about you behind your back?
- What are they about? Are they about a specific product/service?
- In what format are they received (e.g. post, email, telephone – split?)
- Is there a specific type of your customers who complain?
- How frequent are they?
- How do you deal with them?
- Are they usually resolved amicably?
- What makes money for the brand?
- What would you like to sell more of? Why? (e.g. does it make you the most money or does it raise your profile or…?)
- What are your expansion plans? Where are you going as a brand?
- What are your growth markets?
- How does the brand measure success?
- Define your brand in 5 words
- What are the brand’s USPs?
- What do you find interesting about your brand?
- What do you find interesting about the industry which your brand is in?
- Are you and your staff proud of the brand? If so, what makes you proud? What is it good at?
Marketing / PR
- Think about your last marketing promotion:
- When was it?
- What was it about?
- How did it reach your audience? (i.e. where was it published / how it was promoted)
- Was it successful?
- How did you measure the success of the marketing campaign?
- What is your idea of a PR nightmare?
- Who are your competitors?
- What are your competitors doing better than you?
- Are you hoping to copy your competitors? Do you want to take some of your competitors market share in this area?
- If your competitors were talking about you, what would they be saying? What would you like them to be saying?
- Are you aware of any of your competitors who are “nailing” social media?
- Who is the person that you most admire in your industry?
- How much do you want to spend on social media in the next 12 months?
- How much would you be prepared to spend on social media in the next 12 months?
- Is there anything that you don’t want to do?
- What was the last interesting thing to happen at work that you told your family/friends/neighbours about?
- Is there anything that we can give away? (e.g. prizes)
Creating Your Strategy
Once you have truthfully answered these questions, you can start to form a strategy.
- Summarise your position in terms of attitude to social media
- Summarise your main aims.
- State when you will review your strategy
Goals & Objectives
- 6 or so goals (e.g. sell more widgets; increase customers who buy bar snacks/eat in the restaurant; increase web-traffic to page X)
- Who you are targeting: age, gender, where they live, traits, personalities, habits, attitudes, interests, what attracts them, what they are influenced by, etc.
Other significant factors
- Repeat business levels, complaint levels & how they are dealt with, current customer use of social media, when customers might particularly be keen to interact, etc.
- Produce 12-15 adjectives to reflect the brand’s personality (e.g. Stylish, Premium, Authentic, Flexible, Intimate, Global).
Brand’s Core Values
- Four or five values that you want all online actions to fulfil. For example:
- Dialogue: interaction with your customers and their peers
- Education: discussing something about the industry/your brand that is interesting that people will want to share with others
- Entertainment: pure entertainment/fun that people will want to share.
- Help: assisting customers with a problem/question/request
- Identify 10 or so areas that you want to concentrate on (e.g. user-generated content about your business, customer support, competitions/events, industry news, information on your products, increasing sales of x / in a specific region, etc).
The above information defines what you are trying to achieve, who you want to talk to, what image you want to portray, and the broad areas that you’re going to be talking about
… then you can plan on which platforms you’re going to use to do this:
Identify which main platforms you are going to use and why. Explain for each:
- Aim of of the platform
- Methods to be used
- Who will produce the content
- Frequency of use (i.e. how often you’ll post/interact)
- Engagement guidlines (e.g. “Twitter will promote the blog, respond to user queries, push content that is being posted on FB, create buzz within regional darts teams”; or “Blog should be 300-500 words, feature articles that are investigative in nature and add insights to well-travelled food lovers, staff should be encouraged to contribute”)
- Enhancements: anything you’d like to do in the future (e.g. “Effective use of #hashtag” or “Engage users on food discussion groups”).
Identify a few key KPIs that will judge whether your strategy is working. For example views of the blog, number of comments received, total FB ‘likes’, monthly reach, Twitter followers, retweets/month, sales of X/month, position of product Y in sales rankings, monthly visits to website, bounce rate, etc.
Please feel free to tweet me at @bigpinots if you’d like to discuss any of the above.