Social Media for Firms of All Shapes and Sizes

Andrew Swanson | Oct 02, 2014

What does social media mean to your business?

Do you see it as a powerful component of your overall marketing strategy? Does it strike fear in the minds of your PR and HR departments at the possibility of an information leak or failed compliance?

Whether your company has a dedicated social team or just a digital marketing assistant that manages your channels, it’s important to evaluate and analyze your process and plan. Social media strategies must be specialized based on the product, brand or corporate personality being promoted. There’s no such thing as one size/one strategy fits all for social media. However, the process for putting this customized strategy into place and evolving and building upon it can be as simple as four easy steps.


Preprocess: Develop Your Strategy

There are countless variables to consider as part of your holistic social media strategy. The social channels you utilize, the audience you’re targeting, the distinct voices you use, the forms of content you share and the way you engage with your audience all must be customized.

Your marketing objectives must be kept front of mind as you execute your social media strategy. What is your primary purpose for using social media? The answer can be as simple as gathering data about your audience or as complex as being a key part of your sales plan.

Part One: Create

Developing engaging, personalized, high-quality and objective-based content is often the most time-consuming part of a social media campaign.

Consider your brand and stay consistent. Think about your audience and what they react to, positively or negatively. The content may be a photo, a video, a GIF, a Vine, a pinboard or a block of text. There is no one right type of content to share.

One of the most exciting aspects of social media is the chance of an incredibly successful viral content campaign. However, don’t expect to replicate the success of another brand’s social initiative without putting thoughtful strategy behind the development of your own.

Part Two: Share

Even the best content can underperform if it is distributed poorly, causing objectives to sit unachieved. Knowing your audience will lead you to your distribution channels and help you determine your delivery methods.

Let’s use LinkedIn as an example. There are at least 15 different, basic ways to distribute content using personal profiles, company pages and other built-in methods. These capabilities have enabled LinkedIn to evolve from a glorified résumé website into a powerful content platform.

There isn’t a one-track method for sharing your content. Consider the sites where your audience exists on social, the opportunities for joining the conversation and the possible methods for sharing your content.

Part Three: Listen

Setting up a social listening program is vital to the success of any social media campaign. One of the most beneficial features that social media provides businesses and brands is the ability to receive direct feedback from their audiences. Whether it’s a retweet, comment or indirect brand mention, the feedback is instant and can provide brands with important information on their audience.

For some businesses, listening can be equally or more important to the rest of your strategy. A company’s products, their industry and their competitors are mentioned frequently on social media, whether they initiate the conversation or not. Determining the right keywords to listen for is important—they can be as specific as a company or product name or as general as “finance news.”

Part Four: React

You’ve developed a strategy. You’ve created content. You’ve shared that content on your social channels. You’ve listened to your audience’s reaction. Now it’s time for you to react.

The reaction should be instant. You can get a good understanding of your audience’s reception to a post in as little as 30 minutes. You should also develop a long-term approach—compile weekly and monthly stats, as well as categorized analytics based on different engagements.

Review the results, work to understand what they mean about your content, sharing methods and audience receptiveness, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Post-Process: Begin Again

Social is a living, evolving and fast-moving method of communication and should be treated with both a sense of urgency and a calm understanding that some strategies simply will not work or achieve your objectives. As you move through the process, don’t give up or get frustrated. Use any perceived “failures” as learning opportunities that you can apply to future social strategies and other parts of your marketing and advertising plan.

Contact Andrew Swanson at or call 616-957-2000 to learn more about how social media can benefit your business.

Andrew Swanson

Andrew Swanson has spent the past five years helping clients find their better by developing successful social media strategies for the entertainment, financial, CPG and hospitality industries.

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