A Social Media Strategy Checklist

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A Social Media Strategy Checklist

   1. Spend more traditional ad budget on customer service

      So many problems could be proactively averted if companies would simply treat customers as they should. In today’s social realm, word of mouth travels far and above the vintage physical conversation, and can truly influence users across the globe. By supplementing your products with excellent support and a pleasant experience, you will create brand advocates that will help, rather than hurt you. Imagine if United had cut back on a few TV commercials and actually helped their customers out. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is amazing to see the sheer number of companies that continue to treat their customers poorly, then try to fix by spending more dollars on advertising. In a McKinsey report, 67% of consumer sales are directly influenced by WOM (PDF), and the best form of reputation management is not needing to manage your reputation at all. Treat your customers properly, and you will see the results in social media and your bottom line.

2. Create sound company social media strategies & social media policies

      The problem with most companies is that there is a lack of social media strategy and they are engaging because they think they have to. Sit down and put together a list of goals then work to find a strategy that will work to accomplish them. Don’t just Tweet because you saw it on CNN, don’t make a Facebook page because your competitor did.  Come up with a list of goals and a strategy to achieve them. Tactics and strategies are crucial in social media, as Sun Tzu eloquently stated: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

3. Train & educate workers

      Recently, there have been some social media meltdowns based on the lack of knowledge of some individuals acting on behalf of a company.  Policies should be set forth to ensure that workers are not breaking terms of use, acting inappropriately, providing inaccurate information or a handful of other impending dilemmas. In addition, anyone who is allowed to speak on behalf of the company should have extreme comprehension of the networks, how they work and the overall company strategy. When executed poorly, social media has the power to severely harm a brand, and education is the fundamental factor that can prevent these problems.

4. Make a better effort to track mentions

      One of the toughest aspects of Social Media Marketing is tracking the conversations that are occurring ‘in-the-wild.” Research and find a solution that will help you and your company achieve your social media goals. There are a number of good tracking systems on the market, the trick is to test drive them and see what will work for you.  In addition to tracking mentions, tracking broad keywords and engaging customer who are looking for help can be a very profitable portion of your social media marketing campaign. When looking for tools, those that allow the archiving and exportation of data is something that can be a big help as you make your internal cause for social media.

  5. Be proactive, protect your brand names

      If you have a trademarked term, you can almost always stop name squatters from hijacking your brand name, but why wait for that to happen? Services like KnowEm allow you to reserve usernames across hundreds of sites and prevent those from stealing your brand. Taking a few minutes and a few dollars now can save you a lot of time and money to get it back later, so get out there and protect your brand.

6. Take the time to look your best

      Use your social media profiles as extensions of your brand and of your website. Take the time to make custom backgrounds for Twitter or create rich Facebook tabs that support your current marketing initiatives. Just because your profile isn’t on your site, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend money trying to make it look good.

7. Really promote your social profiles off-site

      Many times, simply slapping a social media badge in your footer is simply not enough. Analyze options on how you can leverage real estate on your site to accomplish your social goals. Whether it be a Digg Widget in your sidebar to help promote some upcoming stories on your site to Facebook Fan Boxes along with calls to action on a post-conversion Thank You Page there are plenty of tactics that could make sense for your company.

8. Advertise your social profiles

      One of the hardest things to justify in Internet marketing is spending money without sending visitors to your website. Much like investing in design and development for social profiles, you should be securing budget for advertising on social media sites as well. For example, advertising Facebook pages is a quick and easy way to let targeted users know that you are participating in the conversation. While you may be able to leverage your site to gain some loyal fans/followers (see above), spending money for exposure to targeted audiences could be much more profitable in the long run.

   9. Give people a reason to join in

      “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work in social media, or online in general. You should give users a reason to follow you and become a fan. Whether it is sweepstakes, breaking news, giveaways, sales or company updates, you should offer users something beneficial in exchange for their loyalty.

10. Reward loyal fans with exclusives

      By offering fans items that are exclusive to the social audience, you can “demonstrate value” and make them feel good about following you. Not only would they get an exclusive deal/song/download/game, they also get the feeling that they are getting a special connection that not everyone has.

11. Explore more outlets

      While Twitter and Facebook are making the biggest splash on the news scene, there are hundreds more social sites out there – many of which can help you achieve company goals. Look into other social media outlets that you may not be currently engaged in. From social news sites like Digg to social bookmarking sites like the new StumbleUpon to smaller niche social media sites, there are many outlets that could work for you,  so give ‘em a try!

12. Don’t neglect your site

      While all of the above points speak mainly of tactics that work off of your site, one of the biggest things to remember is that you can be social on your site. Things like blogs and forums were the original social media, so make sure to maintain and cultivate them and create good content that will perform well in social media. At the end of the day, your site is your ultimate sales tool, so take care of it!  Where applicable try to bring social media in with things like Facebook Connect or Digg or Twitter’s API to harness the benefits of these sites on your own.

And that’s it! Try to work on these resolutions in 2010 and watch your social presence flourish. Have any other resolutions you’d like to add? Drop a comment below. Happy Holidays!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Greg Finn is the Director of Internet Marketing for 10e20, a publicity company that specializes in social media and search marketing services. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for over 5 years and specializes in Social Media Marketing.  He writes in-depth about social media and internet marketing on the 10e20 blog

To talk with a Social Media Expert and get your strategy right, contact ICND today.