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Six Steps to An Effective Social Media Strategy and Free Tools to Get You Started

by Lori Smith

Everyone is talking about social media these days and telling you to get on board. What does this mean for your organization? Where do you start?  Below are six essential things you should be doing online with a list of tools to get you started.

Step 1: Listen

Find out what other people are saying about your organization. How do they interpret your mission and goals? Do they see your organization the same way as you do? By listening you can gain insight into what your constituents think and this can help you craft conversation starters, figure out the best way to start engaging, identify social content to incorporate into your content strategy, identify potential influencers or “brand ambassadors” and potentially address a crises early in the game.

Tools for Listening:

Step 2: Set Goals  

This might seem obvious but a lot of people get so caught up with the hype of social media they forget to ask, Why? What do you hope to accomplish from getting on Twitter and Facebook? How will you define “success”?

By setting specific goals that align with your organizational objectives it becomes much easier to execute, manage and measure your social media strategy and deliver results.

Goal Setting Resources:

Step 3: Engage 

Social media is all about conversations, sharing stories and building relationships. This takes time and effort. It is also takes a real person.

No one wants to interact with a faceless brand. So put a real person (not the student intern please!) behind twitter and facebook accounts. Don’t just promote your organization, tell stories, even personal messages, create a personality.

Also respond quickly. People love getting a response directly and quickly. This makes them feel important and engaged and more likely to try your resources and recommend you to their friends.

Step 4: Share

Now that you’ve shared stories and listened, experiment with different sharing platforms and be innovative. You can use videos, blogs, tweets, discussion and answers on Linked In. See which platform works best with your constituents.

Sharing Content Tools:

Step 5: Re-Evaluate

Are you reaching the right audience? Is it worth your time to tweet everyday or are more of your constituents on LinkedIn? Do people actually visit your facebook page? Can people find your website quickly from these channels?

Ask the right questions, go back to your original goal and re-strategize based on the feedback. You want to make sure your time is well spent.

Measuring Tools:

Step 6: Connect

Social media should be integrated into your daily activities. Develop a process to pool your content, streamline the content by category and disseminate it strategically. If you have events coming up, make sure the messaging is consistent across all your web platforms. Automate tasks that are repetitious or mundane. Finally, create a “force field” around tasks you don’t like doing and move towards tasks you are passionate about. The passion will come through and in the end this will be most effective in engaging followers.

Lori Smith is a technology and social web trainer with a passion for helping non-profits in their social media and web development strategies. She is also the Projects and Partnerships Manager at theToronto Workforce Innovation Group — a leading edge research and partnership organization in support of Toronto’s workforce development.

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