When our team speaks to local organizations about social media, people often ask how social media can help achieve larger strategic goals.
Social media is an extension of an organization's communications toolkit, whether it increases the amount of funds you raise, attracts strategic partners, or expands relationships with existing audiences.
How do you effectively incorporate social media into the communications and marketing mix? By developing a comprehensive strategy that includes these five components:
1. Quantifiable goals
Every strategy needs quantifiable goals. Just because you want a Facebook page or are eager to join Twitter doesn't mean you have a strategy. To create a strategy, choose platforms your key audiences use and determine which type of information they want to receive about your organization through those platforms.
Equipped with this intelligence, you can then outline quantifiable goals, such as "attract 10 new volunteers each quarter and grow fundraising by 10 percent."
2. Key message points
While you will need to adapt messages to fit the platforms you decide to use, it is important that social media and traditional messaging have the same voice and communicate the same unique selling benefits.
Outline three to five key message points to help eliminate confusion, and make sure your social media platforms have voices that align with the overall brand.
3. Clearly defined roles
If you decide to split social media tasks among multiple staff, it is important to clearly define each person's role. Who is the content curator? Who is responsible for updating the platforms? Who will make sure the content is in line with brand standards? Defining these roles will help the social media program run smoothly and avoid information and execution gaps.
4. A timeline
Often, organizations are eager to implement a social media program and begin posting content frequently. As time goes on, the frequency of the updates slows. The dwindling volume of content can lead followers to believe that the organization isn't committed to its social media program.
Sporadic updates make it difficult to build community and engage your audience. Develop a timeline to serve as a framework for sharing information. Try to update consistently and execute tactics that support the organization's mission and goals.
5. Success metrics
How will you define success? It is important to grow your online audience, but 50 new Twitter followers won't necessarily impact your bottom line. Assess how social media can help achieve larger strategic goals and determine reasonable benchmarks to evaluate the success of these online endeavors.
These benchmarks will help you adapt the strategy as the organization's social media program evolves.
When you develop a social media strategy for your company, it is important to be realistic about the amount of time employees will have to implement it. Also be realistic when you outline objectives and success metrics. Doing so will provide the greatest opportunity for your social media communications program to succeed.
Danielle M. Cyr is director of social media & senior PR account manager for Co-Communications, a marketing and public relations firm with offices in Connecticut and New York. She also serves as president-elect of the Connecticut Valley Chapter of PRSA. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleCyr.