In our post To Tweet, or Not to Tweet? That is the Question, we discussed how to determine the right social media platforms for your business. Following those steps, you now know how your customer and potential customers are using social media. You know how and if your company and product fit into the different social media platforms. You have your rankings. You know your resources. And you know that you need to be careful to still not just jump right in. Because to be truly successful using social media or any marketing for that matter you need a strategy.

That word strategy can really trip a lot of people up. It seems so big. It can seem complicated. But it doesn’t have to be either of those things. And the real complication comes when you don’t have one and you spend a lot of time and money posting and tweeting without a clear idea of what you are trying to say and achieve.

With a well thought out strategy, you can go beyond post and tweets to making meaningful impressions on your customers and potential customers. Answer these four question and you will be on your way to drafting your own social media strategy.

What are you trying to say?

That seems like such a simple question. To which you might say “I know what I want to say”. But you would be surprised the number of people that don’t take the time to sit down and really map out how and what they want to tell people about what they offer.

Messaging is a critical part of any company’s marketing strategy. Having the right messaging strategy ensures that potential customers are reached in a compelling way that will appeal to them and drive their behavior. Messages and talking points are not meant to become an “elevator speech”. They are meant to serve as conversation starters and guides for posts and tweets.

First, you should craft your Central Story. The Central Story for your company or product is the foundation for all your future messaging. It gets down on paper what you are trying to do with your messaging. It should include;

  • The Concern: What is the problem that your company or product is offering a solution to?
  • Your Message:How do you solve that problem? Why should people use your company? What’s in it for them? What makes you different? How can you say this?
  • Mindset To Create:What do you want people to think and feel about your company or product?

Now you are ready to design your Message Outline. You should have one of these for each of your target customer groups. It should include the following elements;

  • Primary Message / Talking Points
    Central Story message – from above
    • Supporting Points – What else do you need to say? What do other say about you?
  • Mindset Created – from above
    • What do you want people to think and feel when seeing your post or tweet?
  • Style / Tone
    • How should you talk to them? For some, you may want to have a collaborative tone while with others you may want to take a tone of compassion. This will depend on what you are selling and your audience.

Who are you saying it to?

As we have talked about before in Do you really know who your customer is? you can and will do business with any client but it is important to remember that keeping the overall focus of your target customer narrow and clearly defined will enable you to avoid diluting your social media marketing efforts. Speak to your customers and potential customers in the way that will best resonate with them. Don’t speak to the masses. They aren’t going to hear you anyway. By focusing your social media efforts, you will avoid the trap of trying to be all things to all people.

And as mentioned above be aware that you will want to use different styles and tones with different kinds of people. We have talked about before that you wouldn’t talk to a 70-year-old woman and a 20-year-old woman the same way. Keep that in mind when you are designing your social media strategy. Just because you are using social media your customer is still your customer and you should talk to them the way they will best receive your message.

What do I want them to do?

So, it is really great if you know what you are going to say and how you plan to say it but what do you want the reader to do? Don’t just assume that they will take action unless you spell it out for them. Do you want them to like your page, follow a link, make a purchase, sign up for an event, or tell others? These are all great action steps. Don’t try to ask them to do all of them in when post or tweet. Pick one and use any tools that the social media platform gives you to make that action easier for your customers and potential customers.

Having a clear plan as to what you want them to do is key in driving behavior. It needs to be realistic. It needs to be something that fits what you are offering and makes sense. And in most cases, there should be some benefit to them. For example, like my page and you’ll be the first to know about new blog posts.

How am I going to get this done?

Once you have answered the first three questions you come to the one that you may think is the easiest to answer but it is where most people get tripped up. Entrepreneurs and small business owners often forget to include in their social media strategy a roadmap for when and how they are going to get their message out. They often add it to their very long to do list as something that comes “when they have time”. Schedule your time to do this. If social media is part of your marketing strategy make getting it done a priority. And if you really don’t have time look for a partner who can do it for you. Just don’t let it not get done. Two important parts of messaging are being consistent and repetitive.

There are some great tools available to you that will allow you to create your posts and tweets at a time that works for you and then schedule them to go out at the time that works best for your customers. There are free ways to do this and paid services as well. But be careful that you are being thoughtful about how you are doing it. Not all posts make great tweets. Not all tweets make great posts. Don’t take your precious time to craft meaningful messages and then cut corners when it comes to delivering them.

Some social media platforms offer extensive training you can do for free right from the comfort of your own computer. Look for what’s available from the platforms that fit your business.

Final thoughts

There is going to come a point where you feel like you have said the same thing repeatedly. And you want to change your message. DON’T! Stick with it. Find creative ways to make it appear different. Use quotes from customers that convey the same message. Use quotes from famous people that convey your message. But don’t change your message just because you have become bored with it. If you are starting to feel that way you are most likely just beginning to get it to sink in with your customers and potential customers.

By: Amy Matthews, CEO, AMI