Special Report: Social Success – How to Connect With Customers Through Social Media

When you look at the social platforms available to your business, you have more than enough opportunity to get conversations going with a variety of customer and prospect segments. But it's not just about creating social profiles and writing the occasional post when you have time. That route will only frustrate you when it appears that social isn't working for your company.

So, rather than putting a bunch of time or money against social media marketing and hoping your internal or outsourced experts know what they're doing, you might want to start by building out your own content strategy.

You can do this in many ways, but this is a simple guide to refine your business's approach to social.

Step 1: As shown in the sample spreadsheet you can download below, build a table in a spreadsheet organized under three headers: Audience, Distribution and Content.

Download a sample social media content spreadsheet

Step 2: Under the Audience column, create sub-columns for the different stakeholder segments to whom you want to be relevant as well as the desired objectives through that channel. Perhaps you'd like to speak to your primary target consumer, say, mothers ages 25 to 40 who have a high household income, but you'd also like to chat with your secondary consumer of first-time urban grandparents. You may also want to target a top-10 list of bloggers relevant to your industry, and sales staff at your largest retail customer.

In the Objective column, you don't need to cite specific sales increase numbers, but generally aligning the business objectives into the content strategy will keep your team consistently focused on why you're writing articles, pinning fun photos and finding interesting stuff to tweet for hours every week.

Step 3: Under the Distribution column, you want to line up which social platforms each audience segment is using. Maybe you get the highest levels of engagement with your blogger influencers on Twitter, but they don't pay much attention to Facebook. And perhaps your primary consumers are most attentive to your Pinterest boards because these people are busy and more visually oriented.

You want to suss out whether these stakeholder segments are active and accessible through social channels. If they aren't, drop them from your content strategy. If they are, figure out the best distribution channels through which to reach them.

Step 4: Under the Content column, build out your content plan by creating sub-columns labeled Tone and Topics. With a solid understanding of your brand voice, consider the type of tone variations you'd use across the varying stakeholder segments and make note of this.

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