The secret to social strategy

Entering into social media territory can be an overwhelming experience for a company. As a digital and social media strategist, I see dozens of articles each day reporting on technology innovations, new advertising capabilities and evolving analytics. It’s exhausting.

Yet, social media has never been more important for businesses. Nearly every customer that a business serves uses social media as a daily companion to document the micro-moments of their lives. This is what makes social media attractive to marketers; it reaches consumers at the right moments.

To be successful, companies need a social business strategy. This starts first by evaluating how social media can help a business. If the focus is on what’s being posted or shared, take a step back.

Social media is most powerful when it focuses on business objectives. According to eMarketer, “Most B2B [marketers] haven’t mastered social attribution and are still focused on engagement metrics.”

How you use social media to build your business

is your social business strategy.

It’s important to realize that social media is not a stand-alone medium. Instead, it lives in service of your company’s goals. The biggest mistake a company can make is treating it with a compartmentalized mindset. Forget to connect the dots and you’ll short-change your business.

That means thinking about social media as an integral part of your budgeting and planning process. I’ve never understood why some companies leave social media to fend for itself — fewer resources and support, separate and limited budgets from other marketing— then expect a large return.

Social media is a long-term play that needs both internal and external support. Similar to advertising or public relations, social media demands equal attention from marketers. Think of social media as not only the face of your brand but also the voice that sends critical communications which influence the way consumers discover, interact and perceive your business.

Once you have your strategy in place, a brand must evaluate social platforms objectively. As I pointed out in my last article “The Promise of Social Shopping,” social media platforms are not homologous. What role will each platform play? What action do you want your target audience to take? These are just a few questions to answer when building your strategy.

Social media is built off multiple platforms, each catering to different consumer behaviors. Trying to make every social channel work is overwhelming. And it’s the reason behind most social account failures. You know the phrase, “don’t spread yourself too thin.”

Companies need to stop viewing social media as one-off tactics that only achieve short-term goals, “viral” moments and engagement metrics. If you’re going to use social media to represent your brand, it should be a part of a business strategy.

Approaching social media in a holistic way with a strong social business strategy is the proven formula that yields results.

Stephanie Steineck is a Digital and Social Media Strategist @ Brew: Creative Media in Minneapolis.