Activity: Develop Your Own Social Media Strategy

Social Media Strategy Framework

1. Define the purpose and objectives for the use of social media by your organization.

Create a short "mission statement" that will provide direction. It must be precise enough to guide in the development of the strategy, but it should not contain the details about which technologies will be used. Ideally, this will be two or three sentences long - no more than half a page. Important: this mission statement should be completely aligned with the mission statement of your organization!

2. Describe the target group(s) for your social media presence.

Define the group(s) of people to whom your organization is targeting their social media presence. If you identify more than one group, consider developing more than one project, each with a separate strategy. Prioritize each target group and complete your strategy for one before starting it for the next.

3. Research your target group(s) use of the Internet and social media.

How will you determine the needs of your target group(s)? Do not rely strictly on "gut feelings;" instead, research how they are interacting online. To make an informed choice on which Internet or social media tool(s) to use, you must first have a clear understanding of how to reach your target. This will also help you avoid bias in developing your strategy.

4. Determine the resources available.

Who will work on this? What are their skills? What kind of budget will your organization provide? Are you willing/able to hire outside your organization? Is there a willingness inside your own organization to spend time and money on this? What role will existing staff play? Will you be using volunteers?

5. Analyze possible tools for use.

What categories of social media tools will you be looking at? Can you use existing websites and tools (such as Facebook or YouTube) to accomplish your mission? Based on the answers to the preceding questions, what are the most appropriate tools? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? What message will be communicated by the selection of these tools?

6. Select the tools you will use.

This is where you make the specific selection of the tools you will be using. Can you defend your choice? Can you show a direct link between your goals (step 1), your target group (steps 2 and 3), and the resources available (step 4) to this choice of tool(s)? It is important that your tool selection is based on the most appropriate tools to meet your goals and your target group; do not pick a tool just because you are the most comfortable with it.

7. Determine the steps necessary to develop, implement and maintain your strategy.

Once you have determined which tools you would like to use, you must develop a list of the steps needed to get the tools up and running. Do you have the appropriate resources (people/money) to do this? You then should determine the processes needed inside your organization to ensure that the strategy can be maintained for the long-term. Who will be tasked with the day-to-day operation of the site? After developing these lists, are you still confident in your selection of tools? Do you need to scale back?

8. Forecast results.

This is where you set goals that can be measured. Ask: if we follow the strategy developed in steps 1 through 7, what can we realistically expect as results? If not satisfactory, go back to step 1! The goals must be measurable, so be sure that you have methods for measuring these results.

9. Assign roles and responsibilities.

If you have not already done this, be sure you identify all the people involved in the various parts of implementing your strategy. Be sure you get commitment from them and (if necessary) their managers. You want complete buy-in on the project.

Besides the people you have identified in earlier steps, you will want to make sure you identify two more key roles:

1. the one person in your organization ultimately responsible for your online presence. Ideally this is someone on the paid staff of the organization. This person does not need to know all the technical details but does need to know how to get issues resolved.

2. the steering committee (ideally, 3 to 5 members) who will oversee the long-term health of the project. This should include at least one person with decision-making authority in the organization.

10. Write it up!

Write up your strategy and share it with those in your organization. All members of the team should understand their roles in the success of this project. The documentation should also explain the different processes being put in place, who is responsible, and how they will be measured.

11. Carry out the plan.

Have weekly and monthly meetings to monitor progress. The steering committee should meet regularly to monitor progress. Create a reporting and communications system, using a tool such as BaseCamp or a blog.

12. Evaluate results.

Review both quantitative and qualitative statistics. Are you meeting your goals? Make updates to your plan based upon results. Be ready to do it all over again if necessary - technologies and culture change!