By Stephen Arnold, Commtractor, Social Media & Digital Communications Leader

Can you summarise your social media strategy in 10 seconds? Given the diversity of platforms, formats, media and tactics you’d be forgiven for wanting more than 10 minutes. However, being able to achieve this in 10 seconds is a very useful exercise that gives clarity to your social media approach. It helps remove complexity and subjectivity that can hinder business outcomes and stakeholder endorsement.

So, what are the starting points to create a social media strategy that is simple, effective and championed?

1. Prioritize your objectives – ‘Achieve what’ It may sound obvious to start with a business objective, however getting this right will keep your strategy focused. Your starting point should be writing down all your business objectives and removing them one by one until you’re left with the most critical. Be ruthless. Once you have this objective, keep it simple and ensure all social activity is measured against it. Too many businesses try too much too quickly on social media, and this can lead to inefficiency and inconsistency. Aim to master one objective, then test, learn and build.

2. Qualify your audiences – ‘With whom’ Only identifying your target audience is not enough. To ensure your effectiveness on social media you need to deeply understand and qualify your audience. What makes them tick? Why do they use the platforms? Social media is much more about your audience than it is about your business (that’s the social bit), so understanding their motivations is paramount. A good place to start is by reviewing what people already say about your business on social media, or joining Facebook Groups relevant to your category. Immerse yourself in these conversations and identify what makes people share and engage. Use these insights to qualify your audience. Here’s an example of a qualified audience – it shouldn’t be as simple as ‘Young Families’ but instead ‘Young Families who are frustrated at the lack of quality time with their children’.

3. Identify your value – ‘Using this’ Now that you’ve qualified your audience, you can start to build your social value exchange. This is where your business overlays value to your audience’s interests and behaviours identified in the previous step. Start by establishing your credibility or expertise. What does your business have or do that can help your target audience? Is there something your audience wants leadership on? What’s something new that you can show them?

This value helps you stand out in a noisy space, seize audience attention and make a positive impact on social channels. Ultimately it will help deliver your business outcomes over time.

4. Design your role – ‘Achieve what + with who + using this’ Taking steps one, two and three, you can design our role for social media. It should feel unique to your category and be as concise as possible – a phrase or sentence that inspires action. Each word should have significance and can be expanded upon when needed, but simply put it should answer the question ‘what’s the role of social media for our business?’. This step can take the longest, and it’s ok to not get it right straight away. Try testing the phrase with others where you can. Do they understand it? Does it inspire them? Sleep on it if you need to and tweak where necessary.

And if you’re feeling really bold, don’t only use words. Emojis can add so much more context, particularly to your customer outcomes and value exchange.

Having a simple role for social media will bring all stakeholders and partners together under a single purpose, setting clear expectations for every communications brief and strategy deck that follows. This role can act as your creative foundation and helps direct both what you do and don’t do on social platforms. Trust me when I say that decision-making will be easier when you have this in place!

So, the next time you’re asked what the role of social media is for your business, hopefully you can do it in less than 10 seconds and time to spare.

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