How to create a social media strategy your CEO will approve of

How to create a social media strategy your CEO will approve of -


Stop me if this sounds familiar:

A social media marketer (perhaps it's a freelancer, a manager on your team, or even an agency partner) presents a report to you filled with social media data.

The report contains so many disparate data points and metrics that you just sort of nod along for a few slides trying to make sense of it.... until it hits you, and you stop the meeting.

It's clear that none of this has any obvious connection to the kind of results your business leaders (whether that's you, or your boss) actually care about.

This scenario plays out every day in businesses of every stripe and color. And this is exactly the reason why many business leaders - even marketing leaders - still don't have confidence in the true impact social media can have on their goals.

And I don't really blame them! It's 2018, and almost every business and nonprofit is using social media to some degree - but not many are using it effectively.

This is why a strategist who understands the whole of your business - not just their own little social media piece - is critical to the success of any social media marketing program. 

Here's the honest truth, and it's the same for everybody:

Before we can know how to use social media effectively for your business, we need a strategy that maps social media goals and KPIs to real business objectives. - foundation of social media strategy.png

That means taking a step back and asking a set of important questions:

1. What are we trying to achieve at the end of the day?

Not just in terms of social media, but our overall business goals? Sales goals? Revenue goals? Marketing goals?

Having specific target numbers for these goals can be really helpful when you're coming up with KPI targets later on - so make a note of those.

But for this stage of the process, let's keep things high-level and plain language.

Think, "Drive more sales," or "Bring in more revenue from X line of business." You could write "Get more new customers," "Retain more of our existing customers," or "Generate more new leads for X product."

Though a happy balance sheet is the common denominator for successful businesses of all kinds, I've found that it helps to be flexible in how you word things here. Using the company vernacular, as well as structuring your goals according to the emphasis used on certain initiatives, will help make sure you build a strategy that actually gets used. (And that's the whole point!)

2. What role could social media play in helping us achieve those goals?

Time to brainstorm. Again, don't get caught up in industry lingo here - keep thinking big-picture and layman's terms. The goal with this exercise is to get a little more clear about the different roles of social media for your company.

Write down every possible way that social media could positively impact your business.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Sales. Social media can drive sales and revenue at all stages of the funnel. Under this umbrella category you could later build more specific goals for each of those phases of the customer journey - from awareness (I know who you are and what you sell) to consideration (I'm thinking about buying from you) to conversion (I'm a customer). If you're a nonprofit, you could sub 'Fundraising' for this.

Line of business support. This one is still about driving and supporting sales, but it might help to break it out this way for a company with multiple lines of business or verticals, because each will have their own customer acquisition funnel. Therefore, each vertical might need support from social media in different ways.

Membership support. Every business is driven by its bottom line, but some are also driven by a higher calling of sorts: supporting and caring for those who choose to be its members. Any organization that requires a membership in order to partake in its services and products (everything from a private membership club to AAA and Costco!) counts here.

The fact is, you won't have sales if you don't have happy members, so it's still part of supporting that bottom line - but sometimes these initiatives are worth calling out separately.

Reputation management. If your organization has found itself mired in any kind of controversy or negative public opinion, this probably warrants its own role for social media. But it's not just about brand protection and reactive response to negative sentiment - it's also about proactively and strategically using social media to change opinions over time (without being a quasi-governmental Russian social media content farm and ad-buying operation, either). Seriously. This is PR in the social media age!

Legislative advocacy. If one of your organization's goals is to drive legislative action - changing laws in some way, perhaps to advocate on behalf of your members - this would be a role of social media to consider adding to your strategy framework. This would especially be the case if your overall strategy depends on your constituents being vocal with their lawmakers about the need for change. 

Disaster response. This one's pretty specific to disaster aid and relief nonprofits, but it might help you think more about the functional use of social media for your own organization. It's not all marketing, sales and PR! Nonprofits like The Salvation Army and Red Cross often rely on social media to communicate with people who need help in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster. When the electricity is out and landlines are down, Twitter is often still there to tell you the nearest intersection of a food and water canteen or first aid crew.

Once you have these roles articulated and documented, you've got the foundational piece of a solid social media strategy. 

We still need to identify specific social media goals, strategies, and KPIs - but now we know that when we do, they'll clearly map to objectives we can all get behind.

Want more step-by-step guidance? You've got 2 good options:

1. Join the waitlist for my new free guide, “The 7 essentials of a killer social media strategy.” Currently in the works and set to release in September 2018, this guide is designed for marketing and business leaders who want to create a social media marketing program that actually delivers ROI. Sign up here.

2. Hire me to help you 1-on-1. To learn a little more about how I can help your business and how I work with my clients, click here. Or you can get in touch with me to schedule an initial consult here.