If you’re an entrepreneur or communications manager, you may be at a stage where you understand the basics of Facebook, and Twitter and use them.

You might have even been courageous and started a YouTube channel for your company and uploaded a few videos.

Good work, you’re in action. That’s a good place to be.

What you may be wondering now is, “How do I tie all these platforms together?”

In other words, how do you begin to take these fragmented digital media and social channels and evolve them into a synchronistic plan that when harmonized together, predictably builds towards fulfilling on key marketing and business objectives.

This brings us to the topic of strategy and one I want to explore with you today.

The thing about strategy is each business will call for a different one. Every company’s brand and offerings are slightly different from the next.

The purpose of today’s article isn’t to suggest a strategy for your company, but to give you a paradigm in which will allow you to begin asking solid strategic questions that will begin to formulate your strategy. After doing so, I will lay out some general examples of how these social media channels can play together, synchonistically.

Let’s go:

Digital media, in most strategic planning, is best used to build communities (subscription lists, groups, etc.) around your brand on various channels.

These community groups can be customers and prospective customers. In most company’s digital marketing channels, both exist.

Prior the internet and email, businesses had very little ability to maintain relationships with current clients.

A fitness club, for example, were limited to a mailing and call list (because they have a customer database).

A restaurant, for example, was even more restricted. They had no customer database, and therefore no way to build a community around their brand, outside of the regular visits from customers.

With the advent of the internet, and mass cultural acceptance of social media, there is a slew of new channels/platforms that you may use to build a community around you brand.

Some of these digital & social media channels include:

  • E-Mail (E-Newsletters)
  • Website/Blog
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Mobile

There are more, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on these because that’s where most of the internet users in Canada and USA congregate.

What you want to do now is:

  • a) Determine what channels you want to use to build a community around your brand, and
  • b) What channels you want to use to publish key content that advances your communications/marketing goals.

Next, you want to use your channels to best play together to maximize the effectiveness of A & B (this is the birthing of your strategy).

For example, you may find an ample group of your target market is active on Facebook and Twitter, yet you have a blog on your website that can provide value to your audience.

One of your critical goals may be to increase the traffic to your blog because you’ve tracked that blogging is a viable marketing channel for your company.

The problem is, no traffic to your blog = no new sales.

Here is what you may do: you would first devise a plan that builds a large community of followers around your brand on Twitter and Facebook (See the article, Social Media: Getting Fans On Facebook, for ideas on how to do this).

Then through call to actions in those channels, you frequently drive traffic back to your blog.

This part of the strategy, illustrated, could look like this:

Blog Flow
Here’s what generally happens overtime with companies that use blogging as an effective marketing channel:

  1. Community Exists – The company has, overtime, built a community of followers on Twitter and Facebook;
  2. Call to Action – The company creates a snippet of content on FB or T with a headline and URL that calls people back to their blog to read;
  3. Traffic – The company receives a spike in web traffic that day as people are visiting the blog from Twitter and Facebook;
  4. Social Sharing – People who gain value (and like to generously curate content) share the blog in their own social networks;
  5. Second Spike – The company receives a second spike in web traffic that day;
  6. Community Grows – The company gains growth in new followers on Facebook and Twitter (or other social and digital media channels they have setup. ie. E-Newsletter; YouTube);
  7. Process Repeats.

A second example is let’s say you have built a large Twitter following and e-mail list, but your team plans out a new video series that will provide genuine value to your target audience and advance your communications goals (deepening the position of your brand).

You select YouTube as the digital channel to host your videos because you like the interface, it’s great SEO attributions, and ability to attract new viewers through its own network.

The objective of this effort may be different from the example, above.

Your goal here may not be about continually driving traffic to your website and it may not be about increasing your community size.

The goals best summed up could be:

a) Provide value to your community, and
b) Impart key communications messages.

Both are important goals in continually evolving a vibrant community that advances your brand’s goals.

Here is how you would accomplish these goals – You could use your e-mail and Twitter channels to notify people (head line, value statement, call to action, URL) which would drive traffic to the video.

People watch the video and like what they see. Goals A & B above are accomplished and you repeat with further high quality, unborified content, over time.

This example, illustrated, could look like this:

Social Pyramid
Understanding how the different social media channels work best come more clearly when you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each channel.

Two example to better explain:

1) Video – Unless you’re producing high quality, innovatively fresh and sticky video, don’t expect your YouTube channel to take off with subscriptions. However, if you’re willing to consistently churn out high quality content that provides value, it’s role to play could be to provide the community on your other channels (e-mail, twitter, facebook, linkedIn, etc.) high quality content.

2) Blog – If you want to use a blog to provide high quality content or other communications goals, a Facebook page probably isn’t your best platform to do so. Facebook Corporate pages are limited to 450 characters and don’t have the SEO benefits of blogging right on your main page (although advancing SEO through social media activity is advancing).

So, we’ve dived into social media strategy today and looked at how some of the social and digital channels can work together synchronistically to advance business outcomes.

The key take aways are:

  • 1. The Digital Media Opportunity – Digital and social media have given businesses new channels to build communities around their brand. A major objective with most digital marketing strategies should be answering the question, “How do we build a large and engaged following around our brand, online?”
  • 2. Pick The Right Channels – Pick the right digital channels (e-mail, Facebook, etc.) to accomplish your goals. In the social media space, channels are used to build community and publish/curate content on. The biggest downside of picking the wrong channels is the time you spend building them. It’s better, however, to be on too many channels than none at all.
  • 3. Build Community – The right channels and great content doesn’t matter without a community present to consume it. Have a plan in place to build a large audience, over time.
  • 4. Use them Synchronistically – Learn what each channel is best at and use them to fulfill on the goals you set for your strategy. Great strategies have the channels work together in harmony.
  • In a future blog article, I will dive deeper into the popular digital and social media channels and explore what attributes make them beneficial to use in a high performing marketing strategy.

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Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a web design & social marketing agency that instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands. To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event, click here. Andrew can be followed on Twitter here.