Social Media Strategy: Time to Evaluate

social media strategy

I’ll admit it, I was very lucky.  When I took over as social media manager here at Advisor Network a lot of the hard work was done. We had a pretty robust social presence, some really great contributors, compelling content, lots of followers, and the ship was sailing a little off course but sailing nonetheless. There have been a few bumps in the road, but for all intents and purposes, we have a strong plan in place. Recently, we experienced a few changes at Practically Speaking, so now seemed like the perfect time to really take a look at our strategy and make some critical shifts to our plan for 2018.

While daunting to go through, updating our social media strategy was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in some time. Most importantly, I have a really great roadmap to keep us on course and a confidence in how our strategy is aligned to our goals.

If you have been using social in your marketing plan, it might be time to revisit your strategy and update your goals. Or maybe you never had a plan to begin with. I found that a comprehensive plan can be broken down to 6 components detailed below. By navigating these steps, you can really get an idea of where your current strategy is headed, and adjust course as needed.

Component 1: Current Offering Audit

What does your current social offering look like?  What social channels are you using? Where is your content coming from? Who owns the processes? While these might be pretty obvious to you (or not), consider this a living document that anyone can look at and see a broad view of your social landscape.  Document your social history, your current channels, your passwords, responsibility assignments, processes and procedures.

Hootsuite offers great tips and worksheets to perform a social media audit.

Component 2: Learnings

Your audit will provide insight on what’s working in your current strategy and what isn’t. Consider this a “start, stop, continue” exercise. If a Twitter handle is part of your current strategy, but you aren’t able to stay active, is it really worthwhile to continue it? Have you tested some paid Facebook advertising, and are starting to see some traction?  Continuing is probably a good plan, but consider increasing your budget a bit.

List your successes and your failures. Why did they work/not work? What could be done differently? And what shouldn’t be done again.

Component 3: Competitive Landscape

It’s really easy to pat yourself on the back for your successes, but if you don’t know if you are keeping up with the Joneses, how do you really know if it’s truly a job well done vs. a job half done.

Take a look at 4 to 5 competitors and do a side by side comparison to your current social landscape. Note which social platforms they are on, how many followers they have, what type of content are they sharing, how frequently they are posting, etc. Also note what they are doing that you might not be doing.  Hopefully you will find that there are areas that you are doing well, but more importantly, where you might be missing out. Remember to look for things like YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, etc.; social media is more than just the big three (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).

Social media strategy: Time to evaluate Click To Tweet

Component 4: Goals

Tracking likes, tweets and clicks is simple, but are they really the goals you should be focusing on? Most social media managers (including myself) start out thinking small: only direct metrics from social.

Think bigger picture: What are the goals for your BUSINESS this year? Is it to offer exemplary customer service? Maybe Twitter is a consideration for timely customer interaction. Is it to grow your business through referrals? A focus on brand and positioning yourself as a thought leader would be a good start.  Is it to branch into a new niche market? Check that your new target audience is on the social platform that you are currently using.

By looking further up the funnel, you can better plan how social media efforts can amplify your overall business goals, rather than just spinning your tires in the Google analytics site of doom.

Buffer has a great post on how to focus, execute and measure your social goals to assist your business goals.

Component 5: Proposed Enhancements

Based on your audit, and your competitive analysis, what’s missing from your current plan?  Maybe you launched your social plan by using just one social platform; is it time to add another? Consider ways to work smarter instead of harder on social, curate existing content or reconsidering evergreen content that might just need some refreshing.

This component should also include timing for your initiatives. Some will be easier and quicker to execute than others. You don’t need to go it alone; assign the parts that you can delegate. Remember your social goals are tied to your business goals now; a win for social is a win for everyone.

Component 6: Budget Considerations

Clearly, most things that you want to try won’t require a huge hit to your budget. Things like branching out to a new social channel or refocusing your content to a new audience are free and easy to implement.  But there might be some things that you aren’t currently doing that could be worth the investment.

If you are managing multiple platforms, now might be a good time to look at using a scheduling system such as Buffer or Hootsuite. For a pretty minimal cost you can get a basic service that can help you plan and pre-schedule posts. This can really help you stay active on all of your channels, and with the listening streams that these services provide you can stay on top of trends and be a part of the conversation.

You might also be interested in working with a content aggregator such as Hearsay, or Gainfully or AdvisorStream. The content you share on social doesn’t need to be your own… and it shouldn’t always be. Some of these aggregators work directly with Broker Dealers to provide pre-approved content. They provide a one-stop-shop for relevant and thoughtful articles for you to share on social, in newsletters and on your website.

Or maybe you want to invest more in social this year. Whether you’re going to try paid search, or want to get really serious and hire an associate to manage this for you, don’t get overwhelmed. Plan for the new initiatives and budget accordingly.

The final step

Congratulations! I can attest to the fact that updating (or developing) your social media strategy is no short order.  But getting it down on paper (or PowerPoint) isn’t the end-game.  Share your strategy.  Make sure your staff is aware of your plan and how they can contribute to the over-all success of your efforts. Set up some tracking for analytics over the year so you can keep an eye on successes and failures. And keep the boat on the new course to success.

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Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson is the social media contributor for Practically Speaking and social media manager within the SEI Advisor Network.

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