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Social media has always been the bridge for connecting people to each other and immediate information. But when it comes to using it for marketing purposes, how do you explain to a client, or even to your own management, its value? The answer is the strategy – at least that’s the key takeaway that came out of PRSA Detroit’s Social Media Strategies event.

The big picture: strategy trumps quantity of content

Your content will always be important, but the strategy behind it is everything. The event’s panelists – three social media thought leaders, led by Amanda Farley, SSDM partner, and accounts director – discussed how you shouldn’t even think about creating the content until you have laid out the strategy.

You might be asking, then, how do I figure out my social strategy?

As suggested by the panelists you need to be thinking about all the critical questions like:

  • Who are you talking to? And why?
  • What do they want to know?
  • How much content do you have? How much do you need?
  • How often should you post?

Once you begin to build the strategy foundation, you can think about putting the content together.

Which social platforms should I use?

One audience member asked which social platform a company or client should be using and why? The answer – your social presence must follow and support the strategy. But even if there’s no planned engagement, you should still make an account for every platform. Things change so fast in the social media realm, you never know when a previously irrelevant channel might become appropriate to the strategy.
You should also consider your resources. If your strategy calls for multiple channels, remember that they all need to be “fed.” Ask yourself: How much can my team manage? Is there content that can serve multiple purposes? If yes, great, but make sure it varies from other channels.
When it comes to cross-channel content, you need to make sure you’re thinking about the voice of the platform. The world of LinkedIn has a totally different voice and tone than Instagram or Twitter. All have the power to reach large audiences, but each platform has different strengths to support different goals.

How to get executive management engaged

Another audience member asked how others have convinced their executive management to participate in social media when, until recently, some business owners considered it to be only used by younger demographics and celebrities vying for the “most followers.” It may be hard for them to consider it to be a thought leadership platform, but that exactly describes LinkedIn. Many executives claim they are “too busy” to write social-media posts. But the panel provided many tips to help you encourage them:

  • Help the executive(s) find interesting things about themselves that others might not know.
  • Draft an outline for them to further develop the post, along with a deadline.
  • Provide parameters for the writing assignment. Let them know it’s OK to start with something short and sweet.
  • Encourage them to talk about things they do outside of work – volunteer work, Little League, over-50 hockey etc.
  • Engage their assistant(s) to take good notes at speaking engagements to provide the seeds for more content, recapping the executive’s keynote presentation, for instance.

Final thoughts: connecting a foundation for success

Social media has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to connecting people together. The power of social media is in its ability to amplify the voice of the people. But in order for you to succeed in your social media objectives, you need to build a solid strategic foundation while continuing to optimize and monitor results. Otherwise, as Amanda said during the event, “If you’re just putting out content to see if it sticks, you’ve already failed.”