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While searching for Private Ryan, Captain Miller and his squad came across an enemy machine gun position. Most of the squad wanted to go around the enemy position since, according to one soldier, it was ‘not key to their objective’. Captain Miller shot back ‘Our objective is to win the war’. And with that a strategy was put in place to pull together the available resources necessary take out the enemy position.
A social media strategy is no different. There are a number of elements that need to be coordinated across a company and pulled together to gain the greatest impact from them. Pulling your entire team together, with a coordinated approach, and focusing them on the larger objective provides your organization with the greatest competitive advantage, or as an old boss of mine like to say, ‘You’ll punch more than your weight’. Some organizations may want to ‘go around’ Social Media since they don’t see it as a key to meeting their objective. However, a misaligned focus with your social media strategy will allow your competition to win the war.
Many companies will start their social media program with a Facebook page or a Twitter account. While these are good places to start, I’d have to ask ‘why?’. What is the overall goal that you are trying to achieve? Start by defining your goals, and if this is difficult, find someone to help. These goals must to be tied directly to your corporate, marketing, customer service and other enterprise goals. Social media is not a stand-alone strategy, but one of the tools that is used to achieve a business goal. Keep your goals at the business level.
The second step in your Social Media strategy is to build a roadmap that will allow you to achieve your goals. The roadmap should plan 6-12 months out by defining the tactical approach that will be taken. Generally a strategic roadmap should be closer to 3-5 years in its planning horizon, but Social Media is so new and changing so fast, that the planning timeframe needs to be much shorter and revisited often for refinement.
The third step in your plan is to define the metrics that will be used to measure your progress. These measures can be difficult to establish early on when your understanding of social media is nascent. Your metrics will become more concrete as your organization has more experience with social media. In addition, your organization will better align these metrics to the goals that have been defined. Don’t worry about making these perfect. Define your measurements, and get started. Just remember to come back and revisit and refine these often.
Lastly, just a word of advice on where to get started. Always put yourself in your customers, partners or employees shoes. As a customer, would you rather be talked to or listened to? I’d say that two thirds of your strategy should be focused on listening to and responding effectively to your customers needs. If you do this, you will always have a winning strategy.