Social Media 103: Develop a Creative Strategy

In this series, we reviewed how to lay a solid foundation for a social media campaign. If you have been reading along, you know how to set long-term and short-term goals and how to perform a situational analysis. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to work and come up with creative strategies to use during your campaign.

Since it is easy (and free) to sign up for a social media account, there is a lot of white noise to break through when marketing your business on these platforms. Figure out what makes you different.

  1. What is your expertise?
  2. Why would people be interested in what you have to say online?
  3. What three words describe the personality of your brand?
  4. What sets you apart from your competition?
  5. Based on your situational analysis, what strategies from your previous campaigns will you keep?

Use attributes that set you apart from your competitors to create engaging social media strategies. Following these guidelines will help you connect with the audience you are after. Be selective in the strategies you decide to implement. Choose tactics that best accomplish your goals but are also realistic for you to execute successfully.

1. Create original content. The best way to drive interest to your business is by proving you’re expertise and generating conversations among your online fan base.

  • Write a blog. Blogging helps position you as a thought-leader. And it can show your online audience a different, more personal side to your business. It can be a powerful tool, especially when posts include links and keywords. (Remember: SEO is a big part of social media success. Writing about industry news, your latest projects, or other relevant topics can lead unfamiliar searchers your way.) Write from your unique point of view. There is no room for fluff in the crowded blogosphere. Entice readers to participate by leaving posts open ended. For example, finish a blog post with a question for readers. Ask them directly to participate in the discussion. Your audience can provide feedback directly to your content in the comments section, sparking conversation and connections. Choose a blogging platform that will best showcase your expertise. We made a list of the most popular blogging platforms to help you pick the blog site that works best for your purposes.
  • Take pictures. Taking and posting pictures, or creating campaigns around pictures, can help peak interest in your brand. It requires little commitment from an unfamiliar user to scroll through a photo album and can provide a great deal of insight into who you are as a company. If you are thinking about using pictures to draw in your audience, make sure that every photo is purposeful and communicates something new about your brand and business. In other words, don’t post up any old picture for the sake of having it up. Think of a theme or categories to tie your posts together in a meaningful way. Look at Tumblr or Flickr for inspiration.
  • Make videos. Video content is a quick way to draw attention to your business. Your video doesn’t have to be professionally made, as long as the message is strong. It can be promotional, educational, or provocative. As with photos, be careful not to pollute your online presence with too many videos. Only post video content that you think will ultimately give you more online attention from the audience you are looking to capture. We use video content as an integral part of our social media strategy. Our Tell Me More web series is a way to share knowledge about using design to meet business objectives. It strengthens relationships with our clients, and shows potential clients how we can add value.
  • Hold a contest. Provide incentives to your online fan base. These can be centered around giveaways or submitting work for review. Be sure to target fans whose interest would be peaked by your contest. For example, Kraft Foods ran a contest for its Philadelphia Cream Cheese that asked women across the country to create cooking videos using their favorite recipes for a site the created called RealWomenofPhiladelphia.com. The only catch: every recipe had to somehow incorporate Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
  • Host an event. Hosting a “tweet-up” (an in-person get together made up of Twitter users), or participating in a Twitter Chat is a good way to network with other businesses and fans. Social networking connects you to like-minded individuals and interested parties. Tweet-ups can happen in two different ways. First, if you are throwing an event, create a corresponding hashtag (#). Make sure everyone who is attending knows the hashtag and uses it when they reference your event. Other Twitter users can use the hashtag or follow the stream to get up to the minute information. It can help put faces to names and facilitate more interest in your live event.The other way to host a tweet-up is virtually. These are referred to at Twitter Chats. Think of this as a modern day chat room. You and your twitter followers agree to meet at a certain time, tweet with the same hashtag, and discuss topics of interest, industry news, or simply network with one another. There are already some well-established ones that meet every week (like #commschat, #smallbizchat, and #smchat).

2. Listen as much as you post. Posting and promoting your own content is important, but engaging with your followers is crucial to running a successful campaign. Keep the line of communication open with your online audience. They don’t call it “social” media for nothing.

  • Anticipate conversations. Take advantage of relevant current events that will promote conversation. If you are a tech company, write a blog post about the latest gadget from Apple. If you are in the financial realm, engage in conversations about current market trends. Stay on top of and share the latest news in your industry, and soon your social media community will see you as a viable source for information.
  • Be friendly. Reach out to those who you want to connect with, and respond to people who have reached out to you. Every post, tweet, or comment should merit a response (even if its just a ‘thanks”).
  • Build a community. Show interest and curiosity in others’ content. They are more likely to pay it forward, read material that you post, and develop an interest in your brand as a result. Read and comment on other blogs. Respond to posts and tweets that relate to you, your industry, or your interests as a company.
  • Don’t just talk about yourself. Curate a range of content that proves you are interested in the bigger picture. Move beyond purely self-promotional marketing and sales. For example, if you are a non-profit organization, you could write a blog series that profiles your constituents as a success story, repost articles from other resources that relate to your work, and have a tweet-up with similar organizations to brainstorm ways to tackle a mutual problem. The variety of content keeps your audience engaged and at the same time proves that your organization is concerned with more than using social media to simply acquire donations.
  • Be as visible offline as you are online. Social media is a tool that you want to eventually pay off in the “real world”. If you have nurtured an online relationship and anticipate the connection being useful to your business, have a meet up and see where you can take your working relationship next.

What strategies have been successful for you? Share it with us!

 

Step 1: Setting Goals
Step 2: A Situational Analysis

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