When you have a problem and need some professional help, you see a counsellor or a psychologist. Despite a rather hefty fee, they don’t seem to give you much advice. Instead, they ask you a lot of questions and allow you to uncover answers for yourself. It’s interesting that sometimes the most help doesn’t come from someone telling you what to do, but rather asking the right questions. You might need more help down the track, but it gives you clarity about what further help you need to seek out and what you need to specifically work on. Consider me your social media counsellor. This isn’t another social media plan template or 10-quick-steps guide. Instead, I offer a set of questions – a strategic starting point if you will.

Take a deep breath, get comfortable and answer these questions as honestly as you can. This is a safe space.

Audit your Existing Social Media Presence

As the old cliché goes, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. The first step in creating a social media strategy is to know exactly where you sit currently with your social media presence. Take stock of your existing accounts – do they even exist?

Questions to get you started:

– Which platforms am I currently on?
– Are my accounts active?
– Are the profiles filled out accurately and completely?
– How integrated is social media with my other online (and offline) activities?
– How big is my audience?
– Who is my main audience?
– What kind of content am I publishing?
– How much is my audience engaged in the content I’m publishing?
– What do I use social media for?

It may be helpful to chart your existing activity. Break down your content into categories such as:
– entertaining
– educational
– branded
– inspirational

After you have a solid idea about your current activities and a general gauge on the success of your past activities, it’s time to take a look at the broader picture.

Do your Research

Each social media platform has its own strengths. It should not be approached with a one-size-fits-all mentality. Facebook is the most popular go-to platform, but a large membership base doesn’t necessarily equal an engaged audience for business pages. Facebook naturally dominates the B2C space, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for those operating in the B2B space. Pinterest is sometimes written off as a place for beautiful images of weddings, cupcakes, hairstyle inspiration and funny looking cats. However, Pinterest is one of the highest converting social media platforms for e-commerce. Fun fact.

Questions to get you started:

– Which platforms are my competitors on?
– Where are they seeing success?
– What kind of tone do they use?
– How do they interact and respond to their audience?
– Which platforms naturally fit the nature of your brand and product or service offering?
– What is involved in creating a successful community on each platform?
– Are there existing groups that fit in your target market?
– What are the user trends across each platform?
– How is your industry changing and how might this affect your social media activities?

After profiling your competitors activities, exploring the opportunities of each platform, and getting a feel for where your target audience are consuming content, it’s time to drill down and be decisive about your aim.
Narrow your Focus

It’s surprising how many businesses start out on social media with no clear goal or idea of how they are going to achieve it. Blindly delving into the social sphere is akin to throwing paint at a wall and hoping it results in a beautiful artwork.

Questions to get you started:

– Am I using social platforms as a customer service channel?
– What sharable content is already being created through my other marketing activities?
– What is the difference between my current and desired audience?
– How does my audience behave across different channels?
– Which platforms am I going to focus on?
–  How do I want my audience to interact with my brand on social platforms?
– If my brand was a person, how would I profile them?

Create a Plan of Attack

Be as comprehensive as possible in the planning phase. Social media activities are almost always more time consuming than anticipated. These activities will generally fall into two categories: campaigns or ongoing activities. Campaigns generally run for a designated period of time, with a creative theme to achieve a desired outcome. The social media presence is then maintained by ongoing activities.

Questions to get you started:

– What value am I offering my audience?
– How can I solve my audience’s problems?
– Do I need to create new accounts or give my existing accounts a facelift?
– What types of content will I publish?
– How frequently will I be publishing?
– What does my weekly or monthly content schedule look like?
– What is my primary campaign outcome?
– How will the outcomes be measured?
– What resources do I have available?
– Who will be in charge of content creation?
– Who will be responsible for community management?
– How much can I spend on paid promotion?
– Do I have any existing cross promotion opportunities?
– Do I need to outsource any of these roles or activities?

Despite your valiant efforts at running this gauntlet of questions, it’s important to remember that social media is an amplifier. If your current content could use an overhaul, consider investing in content marketing and content development before you tackle the social media beast.