Building a Social Media Strategy is Like Building a Home

Every element of virtual visibility comes back to your relationship with the customer.  It’s about engagement…about the conversation. 

Let’s think about it another way.  Let’s think about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…they are all different neighborhoods.  Each neighborhood has a different vibe and the houses in each have their own flavor.  The homeowner’s association sets the rules about how the outside of the house can and cannot look but what goes on in your own house is a bit more flexible (within reason of course).  You are free to say and do within your own house as you please.  But, if you’re not a nice person, always taking from people, always trying to push some new thing on folks, eventually, you won’t have any people coming by to visit.  

However, if you’re the neighbor who bakes cookies, has friendly potluck suppers, a wonderful host for game night…you get the idea…well, naturally, people will be more inclined to visit you time and time again.  Now, before you say it, I’m not saying that everyone likes fresh-baked cookies.  I get it.  That may not be your audience.  What I am saying is that you need to engage your audience with actions and content that is attractive to them.  Keep this in mind throughout every stage of your strategy building process.

Let’s break it down into a few simple steps.  Think back to our neighborhood analogy.  For your strategy, you’re going to: Pick your neighborhood, build your house, decorate it with some carefully selected and tastefully appointed furnishings, and then finally have a housewarming.  

The first step you’re going to be taking is to actually select your visibility platforms…choosing your neighborhood.  If you’re brand new or just getting the hang of social media, take it slow.  I mean really slow.  I suggest that you pick 1 or 2 and start there.

For starting out, choose venues like Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogging, and Twitter.  These are larger, more popular, and will give you the most chance for early success.  Only choose one or two to start so that you can build a solid foundation and really get a feel for your new "homes."  You might want to do Facebook and start your blog or stick to LinkedIn and Facebook.  Most people will ask me where to start and I will almost always say start with Facebook and a Blog.  LinkedIn is a great place (one of my faves actually) but since you’re primarily building your own image there (rather than a company) then if your main focus is the initial building of your company visibility online, Facebook and a Blog is where I would send you.  Work on these two for a couple of months and then add in another one or two.

This brings me to a very important note that I want to mention before I forget.  Success online almost NEVER happens overnight.  Success offline doesn’t usually happen overnight so don’t expect it to be any different online.  Those that tell you that you are going to have 5,000 followers by tomorrow and that it’s going to happen without doing anything are either lying to you or they are misleading you.  It takes time and effort to build it right.  Yes, you can buy lists and do some things that will build your followers but most of those will never be customers so what you end up with is just a number and that doesn’t help your bottom line. So, we’re going to buckle down and make our plan and WORK that plan.  Fair enough?

Once you’ve decided where you’re going to “be” go ahead and get your accounts set up. This is the “building your house” stage.  If Facebook is one of your choices, be sure to set up a Fan Page for your business so that it’s separate from your personal profile.  If you aren’t sure how to set up a Fan Page, you can check out the HELP section on Facebook or one of the gazillion videos online that can walk you through that process step-by step.  By the way, before you go crazy and tell everybody you have a Facebook page…I know, I know…it’s pretty exciting when you actually take the plunge…make sure that you have at least the basic elements in place before you go “public.”

If you’ve chosen to write a blog, you can start this whether or not you actually have a website.  If you do have one, chances are that you probably can start adding your blog in right away.  If you don’t have a site or if your site does not easily facilitate blogging, then go ahead and find yourself a blog home and get set up there.  Just like Facebook, before you go “public,” ensure you’re ready to show off your new online real estate by checking the basic elements (design, spelling, contact information, etc.)

Regardless of where you choose to focus your visibility strategy, you need to spend some time working on your content message.  Now we’re picking out the decorations.  This is the part that scares a lot of people.  Most of my clients say to me, “But Holly, I don’t have anything to talk about,” or “How in the world am I supposed to keep coming up with new stuff?”  Take a deep breath.  It’s OK.  I promise. 

If it gets to be too much, just like with interior design, you can hire a “decorator” -- someone to step in and create content for you.  Before you panic, realize that most of them don't take quite as much time as you might think and if you plan ahead, you can knock out your content quickly and efficiently.  If you're interested, I can happily send you a table that I share with my clients on starting frequencies for some of the major social media platforms. Doing this should make you feel a whole lot more at ease over the whole process.

You’ve got your content (your design), so let’s start decorating.  For all of my first timers, I tell them they need to sit down and prepare a month’s worth of content.  Before you go thinking I’m a horrible taskmaster, let me explain why.  First, going through the exercise of developing a month’s worth of content will help you to see if the framework you chose is going to work for you.  Secondly, practicing with a month’s worth of content is just that…great practice.  The more you do, the easier it gets.  Lastly, you’re not going to have a housewarming in an empty house.  Having a month of content shows that you are serious and that you plan on staying a while.
This brings us to the final part of building your strategy which is inviting your neighbors in.  Now that you have content and have practiced, you’re ready to continue on that path.  It’s the perfect time to start sharing and opening your new doors for the world to see.  Start simple by inviting friends and current customers and encouraging them to share with their friends.  No hard sell.  Don't forget that you're building relationships and since you are building relationships that are going to last a long time, you're going to need to invest time.  

So, enjoy your new home and have fun. Oh, and don't forget to send me an invitation to the "housewarming!"  I'd love to see your new home.

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Comment by Alyssa Gregory on January 13, 2012 at 3:00pm

I love this analogy, Holly! And great tips and advice sprinkled throughout. Thanks for posting!

Comment by Holly Kile on January 13, 2012 at 3:40pm

Thanks, Alyssa!  As you know, people find new concepts a lot easier to take in when they can compare it to an action or thing they already know something about.  I recently started using this analogy and it seems to really hit home (no pun intended!) with clients helping them to move forward in building a great strategy.


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