How Can Publishers Develop a Social Media Strategy?

Creating a strategy around social media has proven challenging, not just for publishers, but for businesses across a wide spectrum. While it’s easy to link a sale to revenue, it’s difficult to tie a “retweet” or “like” to the bottom line. Social media interactions are multipurpose making them difficult to quantify and even more challenging to build a meaningful strategy around.

To overcome this, says Grow Socially CEO John Foley, publishers need to set specific goals. Reaching a certain number of likes on Facebook is not the right kind of goal, and it won’t grow a publisher’s list, says Foley. What will move the needle for publishers is setting a goal like driving sign-ups for an upcoming webinar. Once a media group can narrow down what they want to achieve on social media, building a strategy around that goal is much simpler.

Here Foley shares more tips on setting social media goals, developing strategy, and executing that strategy across an organization.

What constitutes a social media strategy?
There are two major components to a social media strategy; the strategic overview, and then the daily/weekly/monthly tactical plans. The strategic overview should cover the goals that your business wants to achieve by using social media. The tactical plan is the actual nuts and bolts, but you compare that plan to those goals to be sure that you are on track. This probably sounds simple, but it isn’t always the case. Most often the approach is strictly tactical, run by one person, and the decisions of what networks to be on are based on a hunch. What you should be doing is putting together a team that develops the strategy, the tactics, and executes on the networks where your prospects and subscribers are, then listens, responds, and adapts. We’ll cover this in more detail at the Master Class.

What’s the first thing publishers should do when creating a social media strategy?
You should think of your entire organization as an orchestra. You need a conductor to lead the social media effort, but your entire organization needs to be playing their part in the symphony. Do not overlook this, because if you allow just one or two people to “own” your social media strategy, you will miss out big time.

What kind of goals should publishers set for their social media strategy?
There is no easy answer for this, for a few reasons. First of all, you’re all going to have some variation of your overall goals. Second, each social channel needs its own goals because the way we interact in the various social networks is so different, as is the content we post. To generalize, however, I’d say that most of you are going to have some or all of the following: brand awareness, website traffic, repeat visitors, sentiment (positive/neutral/negative), sales inquiries and leads, and finally, conversions. That’s a mouthful, but like I said, it will really differ based on the channel and your own goals. What I will say is that these are the things that actually move the needle. A “goal” that doesn’t? Number of Facebook like’s. It helps you to spread your message, sure, but it’s not a goal that I would focus on if you want a return.

How can publishers determine what social media platforms are best for reaching their desired audience?
Listen and see if their customers are in those social networks. It always amazes me that folks are doing social media and do not even know if their customers are there. There are many tools available to listen in on the social channels such as SocialMention, Topsy, and Sysomos to name a few.

How should publishers measure their social media success?
Conversions are a big one, but at the end of the day what you need to do is to get your goals in line and then put realistic attainable numbers next to them. Track progress, and adjust accordingly. When you see that some things have greater lift, obviously you are going to want to do more of that and less of what is not working. A key area we will talk about at the Social Media & Inbound Marketing Master Class is social media ROI, and I’ll give you a little preview that might shock you… you can’t always put a dollar value next to it, because it’s not always about the money.

Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.

Publish date: September 22, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT