One of the questions I often get is about simple frameworks for developing a social media strategy. Too often the questioner sounds like they are hunting for a unicorn – asking if there are such mythical beasts? Unfortunately, most social media strategies are anything but simple. I have seen too many corporate and government social media strategies that are 150+ slides PowerPoint presentations or 200+ page Word documents. Does anybody ever read those? A friend of mine in government jokes that by the time a contractor got done putting something like that together the world had already changed enough to make it irrelevant and that they had just bought an expensive doorstop.
But the simple answer is yes. There are simple frameworks for a social media strategy as a starting point. Strategies can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be. To keep it simple, I have broken down social media strategy into four areas – Objectives, Conversation, Locations, and Success.
These are not separate buckets nor are they a sequence of events, but points of convergence about how to consider the conversation you are going to have and how you want to engage with citizens and customers. There is and should be overlap between these, as they are interconnected and stream from one another. I have laid these out as a short statement and then a list of questions you should consider for each.
Objectives – Objectives are what you and your target audience want to accomplish from this relationship. What are the primary and secondary objectives for your social media efforts? Or what do you want to accomplish? Who is your target audience? Who is your secondary influencer audience? What do they want to accomplish?
Conversation – Conversation looks at the nature of the engagement. What is it you want to engage about? Is there room to grow the conversation? What would you like to take from the conversation? What would you like them to take from the interaction? What do you want them to feel? Who else would you like to include? Who else would you like for them to include? Who would they likely want to include? Remember, like any conversation, it is as much the content and what is said as it is what isn’t said or said in other ways.
Locations – Locations looks at where you are, where they are, and how to bring the two of you together. What locations and technologies are you using? What locations and technologies are they using? Where is the overlap? What would it take to move to more of their locations? How do you tailor the conversation for that location? How do you take the interaction across multiple locations? How do shifts in technology change the nature of the conversation?
Success – Success, based upon what your and your target audience’s objectives are, looks out how you define and measure whether you are successful or not. What does success look like for you? How would you know? What does success look like for your target audience? How would they know? How would you know if they felt successful? Are there quantitative measures that are relevant? Are their qualitative measures that are better?
The answers to these questions should be able to fit into a tight 2-5 page document or at most 10 slides. Admittedly, you can go a lot deeper on any of these areas and end up constructing another 150+ slide PowerPoint deck or a 200+ Word document. And in some cases you may need to when you look at who in your organization needs to be involved. But that isn’t the intent and I am not convinced that most of those types of artifacts really help anybody. Planning is necessary, but keep it simple and flexible.
So what do you think? Could your current social media strategy be simplified into these four points of convergence? What am I missing?