Recently, I had an insight into social media strategy on my morning walk. The paved pathway I amble down is a flurry of bike riders, power walkers, and locals taking their dogs out for a morning stretch.

Earlier this week, I came across a springy King Charles spaniel happily chewing on a tennis ball, when he suddenly became aware of his owner filling up his water bowl at the drinking fountain.

The dog — who had previously been in a state of single focus bliss — began to nervously shift his attention from the ball, to the bowl and back again. Then a bicycle blew by and the confused canine whipped around to take a look. Not sure which of these things was the most deserving of his attention, clearly stressed, and unable to make a choice, his head went from bike, to bowl, to ball and back again, over and over.

I know just how that dog feels.

And so does any business owner, entrepreneur, or CEO who is confronted with crafting a social media strategy out of the vast array of choices presented by today’s social media landscape.

“I think businesses are confused about what they should do and how they should do it,” says Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot. “They stick their toe in the water by tweeting once a week or creating a page on Facebook, but that really doesn’t work. What they need to do is jump in, ask questions, learn and fully engage.”

Mike Schultz, author of Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation, says that there are benefits to marketing online but cautions that there are two social media paths a business can pursue.

A Social Media Strategy To Gain Followers or Fans 

“Some people focus on the path of acquiring as many followers as they can,” says Schultz. “But the other path, which is much less sexy, but leads to more money, is to focus on finding people that you could not easily find in the past and reaching out to them in the right way.”

Just what is that right way? While social media strategy has many layers, the experts all agree that following five core steps are a good start to bringing social media strategy sanity to your business brand. 

1. Generate an abundance of high-quality content. Be it blog posts, podcasts, ebooks, web pages, videos or webinars. The more substantial, unique and useful your content is, the more your potential customers will find you. Stuck on what kind of content to create? Ask yourself: What questions are my clients always asking me? Then write your answers to those.

2. Optimize that content for social media. Research the keywords your potential clients would use to find you and integrate those into your blog posts, page titles, blog headings, website text and any other content on your site. Google Keyword Tool provides easy research.

3. Integrate your website/blog with your social media. Publish your posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In addition, post links on your social media back to your website offering free downloadable content. Blog buttons such as LinkedIn Share and TweetMeme help integrate social media.

4. Use alerts to monitor the conversation. Google Alerts notifies you when your business appears online but also helps you find journalists and bloggers in your field. Schultz suggests using Twitter Alerts as well. “One company I know of got a $250,000 sale by following up with a potential client who tweeted a general industry question,” he says.

5. Measure social media marketing. Google Analytics can give you instant access to where your Web traffic is coming from, how long people are staying on your site, which pages are the most popular and whether your overall website visits are going up or down.

In an era where participating in social media has gone from being nice to necessary, it’s critical to outline an overall plan for integrating social media into your marketing mix. Just remember to keep your eye on the tennis ball.

What are your greatest social media strategy challenges? I would love to hear your comments and questions.

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11 thoughts on “Creating a Sane Social Media Strategy

  1. Google has been great for me (us). We have jumped in the standings of where we show up on searches and clients find us much easier then before. We actually had to turn down some work because we couldn’t keep up with all of it!

  2. My biggest problem with using social media is that I don’t know where I should draw the line when it comes to free advice. That is how I make money and if I keep putting things in blogs and ebooks, then how many potential customers am I losing?

  3. I have felt like that dog often. Certain times of the year, or even just the week, I find myself going from one thing to the next without actually hitting anything with all cylinders. I end up looking at a lot of unfinished work and then panic sets in. I really need to just jump into one thing at a time and get it done before I move on to the next. I know I would be more satisfied with where my business is going then.

  4. Our business has been quite successful for years, but to keep up with the times we have pursued the social media outlet. I hired one more person to handle this (part-time) and although we seem to be tied to everything out there, I am not sure if any substantial new clients have been created because of it. Again, we were pretty successful before we started this.

  5. Yes, it takes effort, but it pays off! Those who put in the time will be the ones who stand out over the others. Find out more about it and jump right in. You won’t be sorry if you stay focused and committed to it.

  6. For anyone wondering about how quick the turnaround is on social media, don’t expect immediate results. Often times this form of marketing pays off in the long run, much like good customer service.

  7. My big concern is face to face time with clients. I see the huge upside to this, but I always wonder if I missed an opportunity to close a sale if they aren’t talking directly to me.

  8. I recently watched my father-in-law move out of the basement. He spent 2 months packing what should have taken 2 days. When I read the intro about the dog he immediately popped into my mind. His packing was just like that dog looking between the water, the ball, and the bike. So funny.

  9. The introduction to this great talk says “it wasn’t at all clear how they’d react. Watch the video to see what happened”, but after watching it’s still unclear how they reacted is the response in another video somewhere?

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