User's Guide To A Successful Social Media Program
Social Media Strategy In Four Steps
Social Media Strategy In Four Steps

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest offering from Mike Lewis, Vice-President for Marketing and Sales at Awareness Networks, a social media marketing software solution for businesses.

Building a social media program is an exciting opportunity and chance to dramatically change the way you connect with consumers.  It is a tool that allows you to tap into conversations, learn more about how your brand is perceived, promote your product/service in new ways, and ultimately grow your business. Often the things you learn in your social media program can inform your more traditional marketing efforts, as you engage directly with your audience and learn more about what makes them tick.  Social media – while trendy – is a fully mainstream communications tool.

Properly preparing a social media strategy, including goals and measurement, will ensure you get the most out of your program.  Taking a simple four-step approach to prepare for the launch of a successful social media program can ensure that you’re set up to interact in social media venues before you get started. This process includes:

  • Identifying your goals
  • Finding your audience
  • Setting your key performance indicators
  • Scheduling and resource management

Program building gives you a chance to focus your efforts, and to determine what kind of man power will be needed to support those efforts.  It will also set up your criteria for success in advance by creating a set of metrics. This will take some of the uncertainty out of your social media program, enabling you to know when you are doing things right and/or when adjustments need to be made.

Step One: Identifying your goals

image by romainguy

Just a few examples of your social media program’s goals are reaching new customers, capturing leads, increasing sales, and establishing your brand so as to build loyalty.  Each goal will help you to choose which social media platforms and audiences are the best fit for your efforts, and will allow you to set realistic and measurable metrics for the program.

Be sure to also be realistic, too, in terms of how much time and staff you’ll be able to commit to your program. Companies who try to do everything at the start are, too often, quickly overwhelmed by how much time is required to keep up the effort. If your company is trying a social media program for the first time and you have limited resources, starting with one or two key goals, measuring the effectiveness of your efforts, and then increasing your commitment once the initial program is established will be a more measured and more successful approach.

Step Two: Finding your audience

Finding your audience is key to a social media program. Each social channel has different types of audiences, and each one is used in different ways for different purposes.

For example, if you’re looking to build a group of brand supporters, Facebook could be the best choice. If you’re looking to reach potential customers who have never heard of you, or to become a thought leader in a particular industry, Twitter might be the better option. If you’re hoping to use social media for something like recruiting, a combination of Twitter and LinkedIn could be your best bet.  Once you’ve set your goals, you can start researching and determining the best social channels, tools and services to meet the needs or your program.

Step Three: Setting your key performance indicators

Once you’ve set the goals for your social channels and established your key audiences and the platforms they interact on, you can start setting the metrics and benchmarks.  Start by looking at some of the things that can be measured on each platform:

  • Blog traffic
  • Twitter followers
  • Retweets of your content
  • Interactions on Twitter
  • LinkedIn group members
  • Blog comments
  • Independent shares of your content
  • Trackbacks to your blog

While there are a lot of metrics that can be measured, remember that this is a benchmark. You’ll need to customize your goals and measurement tools depending on what you want to get out of your social media program.

Step Four: Scheduling and resource management

This stage is about setting timelines and determining how you’re going to staff and support your ongoing social media program.  There are some important things to think about when formulating a plan. Not all of these are relevant to every organization, but these are some of the core things to consider when formulating your plan – the time investment, the man power investment and the timeline that you’ve set for the project(s).

These options will naturally lead to other questions to consider that will address any specific challenges or opportunities your organization may see when implementing its social media program. In the end, this planning process will prepare you to embark on the next phase: tactical implementation.


Mike Lewis - Awareness NetworksMike Lewis is a sales and marketing executive who has been at the forefront of leveraging social media for demand generation and customer acquisition.  Mike is the Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Awareness, Inc, where he works with some of the world’s largest brands and agencies to define their social media marketing strategy. Follow him on Twitter @bostonmike or visit his blog Social Episodes.





About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at
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  • Great core ideas! I firmly believe that without structure, work and effort would be laid to waste on any form of business ventures. It is essential to build a blanket of goals, as well as corresponding ways to achieve them, and this rings true to building a strong social media strategy.

  • Denise Duhamel

    I recently purchased course to help me train to become a Social Media Associate, the problem is this if when having problems and I call for assistance. Their are very nice people on the other line but are foreign and I do not under stand them to help me with my problems in completing this course.

    Does anyone there have any suggestions, I am currently out of work and would like my last job to be a success and not rely on other peoples whims?

  • Very nicely put Mike. I can add some of your descriptives to my introduction to social media marketing. It is clear, concise and the steps should make it easy for anybody to think about what they want before they implement!


  • Mike – Thanks for the simple process. I do feel though that there are a few vital exercises within the process that also need to be completed, one of which is Social Listening. More specifically, social media monitoring to help you determine which strategic path to follow. Too many companies (and social media consultants) are trying to determine their best course of action without properly leveraging social analytics tools to listen to their marketplace and get a better feel for the who (who’s talking), the what (what they’re saying) and the where (where they’re saying it). A social listening effort that is employed prior to the strategy development process brings so much more context, focus and validation to the effort.

    Now I’m not saying that a social media marketing effort is doomed to fail without an initial listening effort, but those who don’t execute a listening effort are just gambling. For some companies, gambling and experimentation are built into the budget. For most small businesses, they don’t have that luxury and need a strategy that’s going to deliver, right out of the gate.

    The other missing piece is content strategy. Here’s a great article that was just published this morning on the Content Marketing Institute Blog: “First Things First – Content Strategy Before Social Strategy” –

    Take care Mike!

  • Hi Jason, Thanks for sharing this info with us. I came to know about a lot of things with which we can use social media in an effective way to connect with potential customers.

    Singha Roy

  • Pingback: Social Media Alert – “Social Media” | SMLRT()

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Connie! I really appreciate your feedback.

  • Social media strategy is a lot like Marketing 101:
    What do you want to accomplish?Who is your market ?Where does your market get its information?What kind of information grabs their interest?How will you assess their response? It isn’t all that new and it is much easier with the technology and guidance of the many social media platforms.

  • Mike, I had never differentiated Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In in those terms. I’m glad you made the distinction to help find your audience. You’re right – Facebook would be the obvious choice to find brand supporters.

    All of your points make perfect sense to me now that I’ve been blogging for a while. It would be nice if a new blogger had some idea of what to expect in the beginning. It’s so hard to set goals when you’re venturing into an unknown world.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.


  • Jpeischel

    This makes me crazy–I keep reading articles about SM strategy, setting goals, etc., but what people really need is some good usability information. An example? Facebook has about the worst Help menu known to man. I’m pragmatic and it’s a lot easier to talk to my clients about the big-picture stuff than how to really use these apps.

  • David

    Nice well define four steps. Recently came across new social media website It will be very helpful to create local community that change the way small business trying to reach people in local community. Very interesting…

  • Terrific summary, Mike! I do take issue, however, with the way KPIs were described. The examples above are really metrics that should feed into KPIs. KPIs, to me, should be very high level such as: Am I making money? Am I reducing operational costs? Am I satisfying the needs of customers / clients?

    In short, the indicators should be, um, KEY – i.e. of paramount importance – rather than a mountain of metrics that one could spend hours per day poring over with limited insight into the proverbial big picture. Paralysis by analysis – know what I mean? :)

    Great framework overall though – thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous

      Hey Nick, great feedback all around. Your point is well taken – the metrics outlined above really do set the stage for KPI’s that vary based on business objective. I see too many companies that fall into the ‘analysis by paralysis’ syndrome – or worse – they never go into social media with a clearly stated business objective which means they can never really have a standard set of KPI’s because they don’t know what to measure against.

      Excellent criticism and thanks for the feedback!


  • I feel
    that Social Media is the cheapest and the most effective option of connecting
    with potential customers. It is certainly here to stay. We have got many new
    small business clients and also professionals(doctors), who are using Social
    media to connect with their clients…and to collaborate…It is important
    that the business decides before hand what they want to acheive – Branding,
    Word Of Mouth, or Just Sales…and then take the approach that best matches
    these goals…

    Singha Roy

  • I am writing a newsletter now containing ROI and social media and found your excellent posting. Thanks for sharing Mike!

  • Great post Mike… Love the information. It will really help a lot, I would love to apply your thoughts… Thanks…

  • Thanks for the great post Mike. I think often people make this stuff more complicated than it really needs to be, at least to get started. This is very applicable stuff, regardless of the audience.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Patrick. I complete

  • These are good guidelines to follow when getting involved in social
    media. Too many businesses jump into social media without a plan. Like
    any other marketing strategy, it’s important to have goals and set
    benchmarks to achieve them.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a great point. It’s impossible to measure success without defining objectives up front. A very simple point that many organizations overlook as the jump into social.


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