A Social Media Strategy MUST Include These 3 Stages

When developing a social media plan it’s important to recognize there are stages of development that your social profiles and audience will go through. The process of building a social media program changes over time, and failure to recognize this will most certainly result in failing to meet your goals on social media.

A brief overview:

Find Your Voice –> Build an Audience –> Monetize Your Audience
These steps are sequential and cannot be skipped. For example you won’t begin to build an audience until you’ve found your voice and begin telling a coherent story about who you are and what you do. Likewise, you cannot just skip to monetizing an audience that hasn’t developed yet. If you have 20 likes on your Facebook page or 50 followers on Twitter, sending out promotions to this audience will not likely cover the cost of doing so. Don’t worry though. The nice part about this process is when you succeed in completing one stage, you are very likely to have success on the next.

Find Your Voice

Finding your voice is critical on social media. You will never be able to rise above the noise of the crowd until you are able to develop your own unique voice and message that sets you apart from everyone else. What is the unique mission or set of values that your company lives by? What is unique about your company culture or style? How do you differentiate from competitors? What is the relationship like between your company and its customers? Answering these questions can be a good start to finding a unique voice for you or your company on social media.

Build an Audience

You can’t build a loyal audience without a unique message. Once you’ve found that message which resonates with your customers on social media, you will notice followers and/or likes to your page will begin to rise. Start to become more analytical in your approach at this stage. Begin measuring likes, comments and sharing of your content. Discover what motivates your audience to share and engage with your content. Review your audience and make sure they resemble your target market segments. Begin to build processes which ensure you are sharing high performing content more often, and that content producers are informed about what is working best.

Monetize Your Audience

You will know you’ve built a successful audience when your campaigns result in more revenue than your on-going activities are costing you. How big this audience will be is anybody’s guess, but it’s likely to be a bigger number than you first anticipated. By monitoring conversion rates on campaigns and your audience growth rate, you may be able to predict future revenue with some degree of accuracy, but it takes a while to get to that point. In my experience it is not unusual for it to take 1 to 3 years before an audience reaches a stable mass, but once they do, social media platforms can yield extraordinary returns. This is why a strong commitment at the outset is needed to ensure you get there.

To recap:

Find Your Voice –> Build an Audience –> Monetize Your Audience
It is important to communicate expectations throughout a long term social media implementation. Understanding these stages can be critical in the success or failure of a social strategy. It is true that audience growth & monetization can be augmented with paid ads. However, if you start spending on those ads before finding your voice which resonates with your target audience, you will end up paying just to be part of the noise. Track your progress through these stages. Create processes for repeating what works, and be sure not to jump ahead.

Was this helpful? Could it be improved? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I will to respond to your feedback.

  • Walinda

    I’m new to the world of social media management. This was very helpful to me. I’m personally still stuck on your first step. There is a lot of noise. It’s a little overwhelming as I start to consider my voice and the story I am telling. Thanks for the post :)

    • Thanks Walinda, step 1 (Finding your voice) is the most difficult. Consider what about you or your company do people value the most? How does that make the customer feel? How do you communicate this value to customers? This is the voice of your “brand”. Communicate on social media as you would talk to your customer.

      • Walinda

        Thanks for your feedback!

  • Camille DeSalme

    Helpful, and timely for me; I think I’m near the end of step 1. Thanks for this post—I love having clear steps to follow. Especially helpful is the advice about not spending on ads before finding your voice which resonates with your target audience.

    • Sorry for the delayed reply, but thanks Camille for the great feedback.

      • Camille DeSalme

        No prob, you’re welcome, and I hope life is going swimmingly for you.

  • James Crawford

    Absolutely vital — I love that you spoke about how it takes 1 to 3 years..many give up after 3-6 months.

    • Right James. In this era of immediacy, it’s hard for many companies to realize this is a long-term strategy.

  • Step 1 for me is identifying the end goal. Without question finding your voice, developing your brand’s persona is essential as an early step. I see building an audience as less strategy based – determining who the audience should be and how you’ll reach them, capture their attention is.

    • I totally agree Robert. Having a known goal ahead of time is critical, even if that goal is simply to learn what the opportunities might be for engaging with your target market on social media. Thanks for pointing that out.