Think of your social media effort as a business within a business. As you would with a start-up business or a major internal initiative, write a project charter and business plan for your social media program.
What’s the Big Idea?
Like a business, a new product line, or anything you want to sell to the public, your social media program needs a mission statement: what you’re going to accomplish in the online social space, and why anyone should care. Your business has a mission statement. If you’re a start-up entrepreneur, you have a well-honed elevator pitch. You’re just waiting for that opportune moment with a potential angel investor, when you can quickly explain your product or service and why it’s such a blockbuster opportunity.
Social Media Strategy
Kabana, who founded and runs the social media agency The Marketing Zen Group, developed an “ACT” framework for a successful online and social media strategy. The acronym stands for “Attract, Convert, and Transform”—and I find it a useful framework for positioning an online business. To paraphrase Kabana:
- Attract: To attract likely prospects, you must stand out from a crowded field with a clear and unique brand, a strong value proposition, worthwhile content, social proof (testimonials and an active, emotionally engaged community), and an appealing incentive for individuals to sign up for emails or fill out an inquiry form.
- Convert: Optimize the design and user experience on your social platforms and your website, so you successfully convert browsers to buyers.
- Transform: Build a bona fide personal and emotional connection with your customers or clients. Doing business with you should be no mere transaction. It becomes a relationship with your brand, one that inspires and rewards a passionate following, loyalty, and brand advocacy.
Tapping the Network Effect
The dawn of the commercial Internet in the 1990s introduced some radical business ideas, including the idea of viral growth: through the power of personto-person e-mail—“word of mouse”—businesses could reach exponentially more consumers than ever before, at zero incremental cost. That was a stunning notion indeed for businesses accustomed to printing and mailing catalogs, buying expensive airtime, and doing other traditional marketing.
The rise of social networks reignited viral growth without relying much on email. Social media provide frictionlessly, the viral transmission of all sorts of trends, fads, memes, offers, and gossip. Social networks thrive by making it ridiculously easy and tempting to pass something on to your entire network. Likewise, it’s ridiculously easy for everyone downstream to “like,” comment, retweet, and otherwise amplify your message to their own friend networks.
Promoting Your Online Community
Facebook offers three basic ways to build your audience:
- Invite friends,
- Share your page, and
- Employ paid Facebook advertising.
These are in order of scalability. Inviting your few hundred friends is a nice start, but it’s only a start. Sharing extends your impact, allowing you to post about your page on your own timeline, a friend’s timeline, in a group you belong to, or in a private message. Again, these techniques can get a community started, but they don’t scale—and you need to be judicious in what you share and with whom. Never spam your friends!
Target, for instance, kicked off one back-to-school season with a charitable campaign aimed straight for the hearts of America’s moms: “Help us give up to $2.5 million in support of schools,” exhorted Target’s Facebook page, to its 16 million fans.
The best practices we’ve discussed here will help you build your social media program on a rock-solid foundation. Your program will be centered on a meaningful “story” about your brand, a story that should matter personally to your audience and inspire them to join and participate in your online community.