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With the advent of technology and the reach of internet, every organisation is under constant pressure to keep in touch and interact with their clients and patrons on a regular basis. This is when social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and blogs come in handy.

While some organisations get the nuances in one go and build successful channels of communication with the outside world, some lag behind in this aspect. There might be numerous reasons behind this, the most common being the lack of proper and effective social media strategy.

According to a survey conducted by Social Media Examiner, almost 83 percent of organisations still struggle to formulate and apply an effective social media strategy, resulting in limited communication between the organisation and the outside world.

“In using such a scattershot approach to social media, these organizations are missing out on major opportunities to engage with potential and current customers, manage their reputations, and more—and they may be alienating social media users in the process,” explains Neal Schaffer, social media strategy consultant.

“Without a social media strategy, how do you know what you’re trying to achieve, what you should be doing, how well you’re doing, what you should be measuring, and what the ROI of your social media program is?”

He also noted that when a brand enters the world of social media, it is absolutely necessary to have a social media strategy “because it standardizes messaging, determines how resources are used, defines which tactics you will and won’t pursue, serves as a road map, and will still carry on its purpose through personnel changes.”

Listed below are nine components of an effective social media strategy, listed by Schaffer:

1. Branding Consistency: The branding process of a company plays an important role in helping consumers and clients to identify a brand. Hence, the name of the brand, colour scheme, logo and punch lines should be consistently and accurately applied to social media platforms as well.

“In most instances it’s okay to be less formal on social media channels—just make sure that your updates, statuses, comments, etc. ‘speak’ with a unified voice,” explained Schaffer.

2. Content of Conversation: The content of conversation on a social media platform is very important and organisations should be careful about what they share and talk about. Creating content that is informative, resourceful and high on quality goes a long way.

It also helps when the organisation takes effort to talk about what interests their followers instead of continuously talking about themselves. The social media accounts gain not just followers but also reputation only when the promotional activities are combined with the interest of the audience.

3. Selecting the Appropriate Channel: Schaffer explains that while there are numerous social media channels available worldwide, it is not necessary for a company to have a presence on each one of them. Even though Facebook and Twitter might be the most well-known social media platforms, Google + and Pinterest might also bring in more followers for the brand. Hence, it is important to choose the most appropriate platform while charting out the company’s social media strategy.

4. Frequency: What a brand posts on these platforms is more important than how many times it posts. “Believe it or not, frequent posting doesn’t necessarily make your social media more effective,” Schaffer said. It is also necessary to change the frequency strategy from time to time to reap maximum benefits.

5. Engagement: While companies do a good job posting about themselves and informing their followers about new products and services, it is also necessary to engage in a conversation with them. The pages on social media sites carry all the necessary information, but there are instances when the brand does not react to anything a follower says, which can be a turn-off.

"Your company needs to have a listening—and responding—strategy in place,” added Schaffer. “Every engagement with a social media user is a golden opportunity, because it can give you real-time feedback on what your customers are thinking, liking, needing, buying, etc.”

6. Campaign: A brand must constantly come up with new ways to attract and engage customers. If similar posts are sent out repeatedly, it becomes monotonous for followers, which might discourage them to follow the page.

“Think of it less as a promotional marketing campaign and more of an experiment to better understand—and more effectively engage with—your social media followers,” Schaffer elucidated.

7. Learn from Others: Companies can take cues from other brands and learn the intricacies of strategising from others. Learn from the success of influencers and take examples from them.

“At minimum, influencers provide a source for content curation, and by retweeting their content, you increase the chances that they will notice you and reciprocate the favor, thus broadening your reach in social media, he explained.

8. Brand Ambassadors: The brand ambassador of a company doesn’t necessarily have to be a celebrity. Organisations can easily pick out their loyal fans, who can help them to spread the word about the brand, its products and services.

9. Crisis Management: A brand is likely to face a crisis when word travels in seconds, thanks to the internet. Hence, it should always be prepared to handle any such situation before things get out of hand.

“Make sure that your crisis communications plan includes messaging for each of the social media channels you’ll be investing in,” Schaffer explained. “Beyond that, make sure that your employees are proficient at (or better yet, expert users of) the social media tools your organization utilizes so that they won’t inadvertently make a crisis worse. Secondly, you should try to proactively build a community of goodwill with followers of your brand.”