One of the biggest challenges in social media today is content for the sake of content. Teams, brands and leagues are creating at an incredibly high quality — and volume — but often without a true understanding of why. In too many instances voice, tone and creative depends on the flavor of the day.
Social should not operate in the wild, wild west though. It’s the front door to brands today. As a result, the voice, tone, messaging and content should be connected to the brand’s DNA. It’s important to resist the pressure to resort to gimmicks for vanity metrics. In the end, social without purpose will never get its due or move the needle.
In order for social media to truly map back to organizational goals, the strategy requires building blocks. The first couple of chapters of your plan should be platform agnostic: What does our brand stand for? Who is our audience? What are our goals? Why does it matter?
Once you have the foundation in place, then you can mold the creative and tactics to each platform. This should only happen once you have defined the larger picture.
At the end of the day, you can’t have a social strategy if you don’t have a content strategy and you can’t have a content strategy if you don’t have a brand strategy.
To build out a plan that maps back to organization goals, what are the building blocks required? Here’s a high-level look:
This the foundational work that will separate your social presence from the rest. What does your brand stand for and what values do you need to bring to life? What is the “it” factor that makes your brand unique?
Your brand foundation is more evergreen; while the content and social strategy will pivot and change (sometimes drastically over time), your brand should foundation is something that will never do a complete 180.
This is where you start with any social or digital strategy. Your brand foundation should be the North Star for everything you do. Period.
Who are you trying to reach? If you don’t know your target audience, then how can you create content that will resonate with them?
It’s important to outline target audiences, psychographic and demographic information and understanding what they need to hear from their brand. If you define your audience and what they care about you’ll create stronger and more effective content.
Platforms will come and go, but the need to reach consumers online is here to stay. And, that’s why content comes before platforms and tactics.
This is where you start digging into your content approach. Define your approach to content, the themed buckets that map back to the brand and then the actual ideas. Once you have defined your content series, ideas, etc. then you mold the creative execution to the platform.
The distribution & tactics.
This is where you get into platform tactics and specifics. What platforms will you have a presence on, how will content be molded to each platform and how will you distribute for maximized reach?
The platform tactics should cascade off the larger brand goals and content priorities defined. A platform strategy is less about the actual content ideas and more about how to get the most exposure/reach and build a community.
A (very) rough example.
To help with the visualization of how you can start to tackle the building blocks, I’ve created a very rough draft of how to approach building them. Please note this important disclaimer on the deck below:
None of the sections are fully built out at all so I’ve included a slide at the end of each on other things that can be included in the plan. This is simply to show how you build, while starting with the brand.
I’ve used my Alma Mater Auburn because it’s a brand I’m extremely familiar with, but please keep in mind this was created quickly during a long car ride of travel. There has been little research done, no attention to detail and not a ton of thought beyond the basics (maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but this is just a side passion project).
There are major holes in this deck, not everything is going to make complete sense, it needs more big picture ideas and should have a much heavier hand in how to drive business results.
All that to say this is merely a very, very rough framework to show how and why the brand comes first.
Note, if you prefer, you can actually view this in Google Docs here.