6 Tips to Build Your Social Media Strategy

With so many social media options, how do you pick the best one(s)? IT executives and social media experts share their top six tips for selecting the social media platforms that will provide the greatest return on your investment of time and resources.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff
Wed, May 08, 2013

CIO — With so many social media outlets to choose from -- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+, as well as more specialized sites -- how do you pick the one, or three, that will deliver the best return on your investment of time and resources? To find out, CIO.com queried dozens of IT executives and social media experts. Following are their top six tips for choosing the best social media sites for your small business.

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1. Identify Specifically What Want to Accomplish Via Social Media

"To find out what the best channel is for your social media outreach, you first need to define what your business goals are--i.e., focusing ontop-of-the-funnel KPIs like extending your brand recognition or bottom-of-the-funnel KPIs such as lead form submissions or ecommerce purchases," says Lauren Fairbanks, chief content strategist, Stunt & Gimmick's, a creative content agency.

"For example, if you want to improve your organic search rankings, then Google+ and YouTube can help," says Martin Wong, CMO SMARTT, a Web design and digital marketing firm. "If your intent is to provide customer support over social media, then it makes sense to do so over Facebook and Twitter," he says.

Or maybe you want to use social media as part of your customer service and support efforts. "Social strategies aren't only for marketing," says Kristin Muhlner, CEO, newBrandAnalytics. So if customer services and support is one of your top goals, "before choosing your top platforms, conduct an audit of social channels that help you support your overall customer service and communications strategy in a manageable way," she says.

The bottom line: "The clearer your objectives and metrics are, the easier it will be for you to measure and manage your results," says Wong.

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2. Figure Out Where Your Customers Are

"When deciding on which social media service is best for your business, you need to determine the social networks that your customers are using," says Shane Gamble, marketing coordinator and ecommerce advisor, Sweet Tooth, a customer loyalty and rewards service. "For example, if your target market is women aged 25 to 34, it would be wise to have an active presence on Pinterest."

Similarly, "if your products are consumer-oriented, use Pinterest and Facebook," says Becky Boyd, vice president, MediaFirst, a technology PR agency. "If you offer more B2B solutions, LinkedIn (and LinkedIn Groups that would interest your audience) and Twitter are best." And if you want to demonstrate something visually, use YouTube."

How can you determine which social media sites your existing and prospective customers use? By "using existing CRM, social metrics, Web analytics and customer surveys," says Brad Lowrey, digital manager at public relations agency Weber Shandwick. "There is no sense putting in resources and effort being on a platform like Twitter or Pinterest if only five percent of your customers are active there."

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