So what is social media? Social media is media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. It is categorized based on content- rich content, real-time content, social applications and social networking platforms. So how can social media be used strategically?

The first step in using social media effectively for businesses is to make a social strategy. The Forrester’s POST Model is a good guide to making a social strategy. POST is an acronym for People, Objectives, Strategies and Technology. The model proposes a four step approach to social strategy:

1)      Assess the customers’ social activities

2)      Decide what you want to accomplish

3)      Plan for how relationships with customers will change

4)      Decide which social technologies to use.

While making the social strategy using the model, the 3C’s (content, community and collaborative platforms) and 2 L’s (listen and learn) of social media projects should be kept in mind. Content refers to the user generated content and the videos, tags and demos generated by the business. Community refers to the conversations, relationships, recommendations, polls, promos and question and answers generated by the customers. This is useful for identifying the customer needs and wants. Collaborative platforms like social networks can be used to connect with customers, new employees and other talent and also to promote the business. Social networking sites are a good platform to find influencers, followers and increase the reach of the business. Listen refers to the analytics and social metrics that can be used to obtain customer insights and improve the business. Learn refers to using crowdsourcing and testing the new ideas generated to promote innovation in the business.

Creating the social strategy is important but identifying the right target market is even more important because if the target market is identifies incorrectly even if the strategy is good, it is going to fail. Therefore, social media can be used to identify the right target market based on social behaviors, social reach, demographics, behaviors, interests and location. Here all four categories- rich content, real time content, social applications and social networking platforms-of social media can be used to obtain the optimum output.

Once a social strategy is created, the next step to using social media effectively is to test the strategy. To test, social analytics, web metrics and business metrics can be used to gauge brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth:

Brand Awareness Brand Engagement Word of Mouth
  •  # of members, fans
  •  # of installs of application
  •  # of impressions
  •  # of bookmarks
  •  # ratings/reviews & valence
  •  # of video views, downloads
  •  # of followers
  •  # unique visitors
  •  # repeat visitors
  •  # of comments, replies
  •  # of active users
  •  # of user-generated items
  •  rate of activity
  •  time on site
  •  # @ replies
  •  # responses to polls, contests
  •  responsiveness speed
  •  topic interaction (thread depth)
  •  # retweets
  •  # times appearing in friend’s
     timeline

  •  # posts on wall
  •  # reposts, shares
  •  # of responses to friend referral invitations
  •  # of inbound links
  •  # of subscribers
  •  # of likes on friends’ feeds

 

Many social media platforms are no cost, so start engaging customers through these free tools! Create your social strategy and keep testing to see what works!