Creating a Social Media Strategy

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to beef up my blog, posting more regularly. I know I’ll be far more effective, if I do that with strategy, versus, half heartedly throwing hand grenades. Plus, you and I both know (well, at least I hope you do) that social media extends far beyond a blog or website. It’s how we interact on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ (just to name a few).

So, where do we start? First, we have to decide what we’re going to focus on. There are hundreds of social networks out there, most of which I’ve never even heard about. For me, I decided I’m going to focus on the big ones. People are already there. I would rather go to my target audience versus waiting around for them to come to me.

Second, I think you have to figure out who your core audience is. This is a difficult one. We want to be everyone’s friend, but it doesn’t work that way…and that’s OK! I was on a conference call with a client earlier this week. We asked them who their core audience was and they said 20-45 year old women. That’s a 25 year age difference! That’s not a core audience! After a few more questions, we were able to narrow that down to young moms. Now we’re starting to get somewhere.

How does this relate to social media? Well, it changes my message. If my core audience is other designers, then I’m going to write about design. I’ll post images that inspire me. I’ll talk about my process. I’ll write about quirks that I find in Photoshop.

If my core audience is programmers, I’ll write about my experience with Code Igniter or jQuery or Ruby. I’ll provide websites that solved my problems. I’ll do my best to contribute to the community.

If my core audience is clients. Then, I’ll do my best to show them that I know what I’m talking about and provide tools to help educate them.

If my core audience is my friends and family, I’ll write about my adventures or things I’m learning.

As you can tell, this is something that I struggle with on my own blog. I have interests in all these areas. For me, I’ve tried to divide these out by categories (101, My Life, Finders Keepers, Programming, Design, and Photography). I would rather everything be housed under 1 site than try and manage 6 different blogs! Honestly, I (still) don’t know if this is effective.

But, one thing I am sure of: my core audience is different based on which medium I am using. For example, on Facebook, I’ve tried to be very intentional about making sure the people I’m friends with are people that I know in real life. They don’t care about how I debug sites on my iPhone and iPad, but they do want to know about my trip to Rio this summer. If I keep posting geek stuff that’s over their head, pretty soon, they’ll start tuning me out and miss the stuff that is actually applicable to them.

Third, there’s the time factor. How much time are you willing to spend each day? How often are you going to post? When are you posting?

One of the hardest things I’ve discovered about social media is staying consistent. I’ll do great for one day, or one week, even. But, it quickly becomes hard to maintain. Social media is not a microwave, though. We like to think it is because things move quickly, in and out, but for us to have any success or have any influence whatsoever, our audience needs to be able to trust us and know that we’re going to be there no matter what. Day in and day out. Yeah, it’s hard. But, anything that has value is hard.

Do you have a social media strategy? Is there another principle you’ve used when creating your social media strategy?