Balancing Your Social Strategies and Tactics

As a business owner, you know you should be social right? Have you thought about how you’d implement a social strategy and who within your company would be charged with what might be viewed a daunting task?

In talking with several small business owners, the quandary is similar. Most understand the need and desire to have an online / social strategy, but don’t have the resources (it does take time and a budget!) and are unclear on the skill sets needed to do it well.

A Balancing Act

A Balancing Act

STRATEGY

Let’s address strategy first. This always starts with the brand. Is the brand dated? In need of a refresh? If you’re delving into social, it’s a good opportunity to consider your existing and new audiences related to your business development. Social offers opportunities to reach more specific audiences and interact with them in their medium of choice. At a minimum, you need logo variations from rectangle to square in various dimensions and resolutions to accurately portray your brand. You can work with your existing identity to create these as well as implementing a suite of images that represent the brand.

A review of social media channels and the potential for your brand and audiences will determine where you need to be. Setting up the appropriate accounts involves some complexities. In some cases reserving your brand name, even if you do not choose to participate in a particular medium at the outset is a good idea. You’ll want to have one main tagline, a brief summary 160 characters for company bios (Twitter, i.e.) that can be repurposed across all of the channels you want to own. In addition to setting this up, knowing the right companies and experts to follow is key to building your social base.

Also involved in strategy is a review of your annual calendar including events you own; events, products and services you want to support and any content you already have. One of the largest missed opportunities is that content related to your brand that may live in print, like advertising, marketing materials or editorial, doesn’t make it to the social sphere. A best practice strategic guide to social can help this become more turnkey for your business. A secondary yet very important new area for social content involves creating a list of ideas you want to generate content for and choosing some priorities to focus on. Read:  added investment.

TACTICAL

Now let’s address the other piece of the puzzle. Who in your company will carry this out on a daily basis and provide the transparency and immediacy necessary for good social? Many business owners assume a millennial immersed in their own social media can take this on. Potentially very true. However, business owners seem to feel unsure about turning this over for a few reasons:  1. they don’t understand social themselves and may not be able to provide guidance and knowledge regarding social media 2. they are turning over their entire brand management to someone who may not yet understand all of the nuances of the brand.

Where I believe the strategy and tactics come together is based in an experienced strategist and an employee who is comfortable using social and touches the brand directly on a daily basis. For example, a strategist can set the annual plan and direction for social as well as analytics. The tactical doer, again may be your millennial employee(s). This employee, working with the strategist, can have a shared vision and own your social which means being responsible for posting, interacting, responding and generating content (some companies outsource the content creation portion – i.e. blogs, videos, etc).

Using a strategist and employee in your social is a recognition of the different skill sets needed for social media an a practical application for your business and resources. Ultimately, this converges in an integrated online presence that represents your brand consistently, credibly and accurately with a tone and voice that is authentic to the brand.

Are you ready to set your social in motion?
Image:  Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna performance – – quite the balancing act

Blogging: Your Brand-Building Epicenter

Blogging is so outdated. I’m not a writer. I don’t want to commit to the frequency it requires. No one will read it.

Blogging: The Social Media Epicenter

Blogging: Your Brand-Building Epicenter

These are some common responses I hear from clients when I ask the probing question, “Have you thought about creating your own blog?” Since blogging became mainstream in 1999, everyone’s doing it. WordPress states that over 362 million people view more than 10.7 billion pages each month. Wow. Sure everyone’s doing it, but why are they doing it? How can business owners find a voice to blog with purpose?

They’re doing it because it works. It’s the single most holistic way to have an online presence that establishes your credibility (I’d include video and vlogging here too), gives your brand a voice and creates a hub of content that can be repurposed for all communication channels. If I work with a business owner who writes a blog, I can take that content and build public relations, traditional advertising and marketing concepts around it.

Other social media trends come and go, but blogging is still growing and going strong fifteen some years later. Blogger defines blogging as:

“A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules…. blogs have reshaped the web, impacted politics, shaken up journalism, and enabled millions of people to have a voice and connect with others.”

Call it what you will. It’s here to stay. As Blogger says, “…and we’re pretty sure the whole deal is just getting started.” I talk with clients about the blog concept, but I call it content generation and brand building because I think that gets at the essence of its purpose. I also prompt them, “Don’t you want to be a thought leader?” Because a blog can help you do this. I believe it also helps answer the overwhelming questions for other social media channels. Once you create your blog, that’s the stuff you tweet about and you engage with others who care about the same stuff.

So think content. The old rules about daily and weekly required blog frequency are evolving. Consistency and quality of content are a priority unless you’re a media news outlet then obviously frequency and timing matter. Commit to a schedule, say every other Monday or once a month, and be frequently filing away ideas between blogs so when you sit down to write it, you can cite your sources, tie your thoughts together and walk away from it with some valuable learning for yourself, your business and with any luck, a new perspective.

A popular blog content, tips and how-to online community, Blog Exchange, is a good resource for getting started. I also just came across an article published in June 2013 that asserts WordPress is the best blogging platform.

With that inspiration, consider some new answers to your comments from above:
1. Blogging is here to stay. See Wiki for a refresher on the evolution and stats.

2. You don’t need to be a writer – – keep it to the point, find your voice, use compelling visuals, hire help if needed. Set a content plan of topics at least six months out (you can always switch it up with more timely and relevant posts should the opportunity present itself).

3. Focus less on frequency and more on consistency of your timing, whatever that attainable goal might be for you. Be sure to share a unique perspective that only you as a thought leader in your field possess. You’ll still find social media experts who say you have to post four times a week (May 2013, Conpendium). None of the small business owners I know have time for this. Consider it updating your static web site if you need to. Any current content is better than a site that hasn’t been touched for a year.

4. Sure, you’ll have a small audience at first, but gaining expertise and sharing your ideas is valuable in and of itself. That content builds your brand id, social media channels and provides credibility in a marketplace that is ever-demanding an open dialogue with the companies, products and services they consume. As you hone your blog, more frequency and growth strategies should be built in – i.e. guest blogging, other social strategies, SEO, following other bloggers and interacting with others.

Worry less about the rules and focus on the value you can bring to your business and personal growth through a more social presence. Happy blogging!
—  Jennifer Gilhoi, WordPress blogger at edamomie.com since Nov 2010.