Social Media Strategy: Listen, Identify, Formulate, Engage and Action

Searching for the phrase ‘Social media strategy’ (SMS) on any search engine would probably fetch a million results for sure, and new ones each day as they keep getting indexed. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to build a social strategy. Even I have a few thoughts on this topic. What I am expounding below are portions that are a little more grounded, actionable and generic enough to be used by any organization.

Most organizations are able to clear SMS101. This includes creating a webpage on Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, Flickr, Hi5 either themselves or by hiring an agency that can do this by end of day. The agency also spreads the word, and the pages end up having thousands of followers (clients, employees) or listeners. The buzz keeps going for a couple of months where they keep informing their ‘avid’ fans about events, new products and other newsworthy items. However, in a few months, the action dies down. They see that the number of likes/comments to an announcement are now down to multiples of 10. They start wondering what happened to the millennials (the chirpy folks who are our fans)? Aren’t they supposed to respond and be virally active? Bah, humbug, this things doesn’t work, it’s overhyped. Time to cut budgets and shoot someone.

But hold on, we also hear a few success stories e.g. Dell generates 3 Million in Sales via Twitter, Coca Cola Expedition 206 on Facebook, Starbucks ‘Via’ Launch & 7 Million Fans on Facebook. They seem to be pulling it off quite well? How did they do it? Does it really work or are these success stories cooked up, vaporware, marketing gimmicks to fool us into believing or generating further buzz on how cool these companies are?

Here’s my take. A social game-plan is a collective effort (organization-wide) and requires a multi-pronged (and multi-objective) approach. Since you have to engage with many listeners and speakers at one time, one approach (size) will not fit all. Plus, it’s a long running episode/rally with a difference. Action begins slowly but stalls immediately if you take the foot off the pedal.

Hence, you require careful planning. The approach to a social game-plan needs to address the following five stages of listening,  identifying, formulating, engaging and action.

Listening What are the millennials talking about us?
Which social networks are relevant?
Hear the sentiment, follow the trend, analyze the reasons, keep discovering their online hangouts
Social/Web Analytics Team
Identifying Who are the influencers in there?
Identify the ‘relevant’ influencers, people who are active, have many ‘responsive’ friends and have the right demographic to be of interest to us
Research Team
Formulating Who from within the firm can participate in the engagement?
What all can we talk about?
How frequently can we engage?
Formulate the topic plan just as you decide promotion campaigns – topics of interest and owners/participants
Business, In-house Social Expert , Marketing
Engaging Participants and their Role-play on a Social platform:
– Support Team (address queries)
– Product managers (seek ideas and explain feature, next release)
– Evangelists (explain the vision),
– Active ‘socials’ (Spread the word, Invite friends)
– Active bloggers (Create the hype before launches, versions)

Topics of discussion and initiatives on a Social platform could include:
Contests, Product launches, Promotions, Countering the sentiment, Clarifications, Supporting queries, Troubleshooting, and much more

In-house Social Participants
Actions Eliciting desired action from the Socials around:
Trials, awareness, purchase, traffic. Creating actionable events through appropriate messaging
Evaluating the ROI for each social engagement and campaigns. This shall help identify what works and what does not. Read my post on Metrics for related insights.
Social/Web Team, Business, Marketing

Here are some implementable action sequences, grouped into 9 facets of any social media strategy. While this might be a basic approach to formulating your strategy and making sure you have left no stone unturned, innovative ideas are essential to generate exemplary success.


We need to remember that the onus of formulating a social media strategy may lie with a few, however, the act of engaging with the end-customers on a social platform has to be wide-spread (through in-house social influencers, across the organization) to ensure virality and momentum.

Every organization would have active FB status updaters or Twitter tweeters. How many times have they written about your firm might be a good question to analyze? Can all of them convert into effective marketers, without making them uncomfortable: calls for a new rewards and recognition clause to the HR policy, doesn’t it? Think about it.


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