It sounds obvious, but before you implement a new marketing strategy in your business, you need to know what your objectives are first—i.e., what is it that you are trying to accomplish?  Social media is no different.  It’s not enough to want to add it to your marketing mix just because “everyone else is doing it.”

Fortunately, Forrester Research came up with a handy little acronym, which my colleague Amy Miyamoto and I also recently included in our Social Media Made Simple webinar series. It’s called the POST Method*, and it’s a really great way to frame your social media strategy. Here’s how it breaks down:

P: Who are the PEOPLE you would most like to attract via your social media presence on sites such as Facebook and Twitter? For example–mentors, raving fans, potential clients, colleagues, strategic alliance partners, local connections? Or a combination of these?

O: What are your primary OBJECTIVES for your Social Media presence? For example, is it to get found by those who are looking for your products or services, finding and interacting with current and potential clients and customers, building relationships with potential strategic alliance and referral partners, building a community around your business, creating awareness of your content and offerings, learning from mentors?

S: What Social Media STRATEGIES do you plan to implement? Will you have a Twitter profile, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook Fan Page, start a blog, join a Facebook Group? Which ones have priority over others?

T: What TECHNOLOGIES will you use? For example—Hootsuite, YouTube, Ping.fm, Twitpic, Twellow, Bit.ly for link shortening? (The ones you determine to be of highest priority to you will influence the kinds of actions you take on the social media sites you have a presence on.)

Finally, for bonus points, you could also include “M” as in “how will you MEASURE your social media results?” Understandably, businesspeople still want to know the ROI of their activities—and although this is not as cut and dry to measure in social media, there are still certain metrics that you can look to: your number of newsletter or blog subscribers, your website traffic, number of followers and fans, how many purchases made, the amount of comments on your blog, etc.

The POST method is a good basic structure for starting to define your social media objectives, plan, and priorities. By identifying all the relevant parts of the structure you are creating a clearer purpose and vision—as well as implementing goals, strategies, and tools that will best enable you to reach the ideal people you are looking to connect with via social media.

*Source : Forrester Research/Groundswell: http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2007/12/the-post-method.html

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