Three Homework Questions Due Before You Start Talking Social Strategy

Answering the right questions right off the bat will help you weed through the BS.

 

Social Strategy | Duncan Salyer, Senior Account Manager

By Duncan Salyer
Senior Account Manager

Google ‘social media strategy’ and you’ll find a garble of vagueness, often packaged in the form of a “Top 10” list or a “5 Helpful Tips” article. I won’t jump the gun and call it all BS, because it isn’t. What it is, however, is unhelpful if your task is to begin thinking realistically about designing and executing a social plan.

Anytime anyone (including myself) talks ‘social’ it frequently sounds like a load of BS. It’s not Social’s fault – it’s the surrounding vocabulary created over the last seven or so years by marketers attempting to talk intelligently about a complicated medium that won’t quit reinventing itself.

Identifying BS lingo doesn’t mean you can avoid it. At KC, we still talk about “content audits,” “monitoring streams,” “success metrics,” “engagement benchmarks,” and “channel plans.” The difference is how we begin. Jumping out of the gate before addressing a few fundamental questions is a mistake.

Start here with these three tough questions:

Is what you want to say going to be enough?

Our social patience is limited. Identifying the key messages for a channel is crucial, but so is admitting when it may not be enough. It’s just the truth; people get sick of hearing the same thing over and over again.

You may be in the business of manufacturing and selling doorknockers, but you probably won’t gain a following by dedicating all your content to doorknockers. Wishing it won’t make it so. It won’t take too many posts dedicated to the fascinating world of doorknockers for the average user to want to knock you out.

This is especially important to remember at a time when muting features on social channels are becoming more and more prevalent. Just like a routine email ‘unsubscribe’ – muting social handles is becoming instinctive for users. And worse, a mute doesn’t inform the channel owner they’ve been muted. This creates a scary place for companies to end up—a sort of marketing purgatory—where you’re talking about your amazing doorknockers and nobody is listening.

If you decide what you want to say won’t be enough – so be it. You’ve now identified that there will be an ongoing necessity (and challenge) to mine additional content. This realization, and resilience it affords not to just fall back on the content that comes without lifting a shovel – may be your ticket out of purgatory.

What does execution look like after months one & two?

Don’t let one completed two-month content calendar fool you into a premature launch. Warning flags need to be raised sky-high if process questions are going unanswered.

Let the most anal-retentive person on the team dive into this head first (they’ll love it). Who writes what? Who monitors whom? Who responds when? What are Legal’s timing requirements from a reviewing standpoint? Do you even need (knock on wood) a formal legal review on all posts?

Once the channel launches, adjustments should revolve around performance analytics, not process. The social cogs and gears are always more intricate than they first appear. Make the execution plan airtight; you’ll still be surprised that there’ll be a few leaks.

Can we deliver on expectations?

A boss once told me: under promise, over deliver and you’ll be fine. That’s all good and dandy if we’re talking PowerPoints and creative briefs, but what about in a space where the star case studies are known by everyone. In this setting, expectations run high and it’s important to manage them.

Who is evaluating your monthly performance? Who is their boss (and their bosses’ boss) and are they evaluating the same thing? It’s amazing how visible social posts become. I’m not surprised anymore to see the CEO of a large corporation ‘like’ a Facebook post or retweet something written by an intern. Not to be scary, but if you are to play on such a stage – you’ll need to know what will make the audience applaud.

Urge client-contacts to agree on success metrics from the beginning – not only their own, but of those they report to. If expectations are tied to sales figures, but social metrics can’t correlate directly – that’s a conversation that needs to take place before you’re summarizing your first month’s metrics.

 

When it comes to social media strategy, the hard questions are precisely the right questions you want to start with. If you can’t defend it from day one, you’ll be in no better shape come day 61. Identify the right questions upfront and challenge your team and your clients to answer them fully before you start impressing them with all the other social media BS.