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There are more than 200 social media networks, and more hit the Internet daily. No wonder authors are confused about how to approach this behemoth.
The social media information highway is crowded and noisy. There are more than 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook every month, and according to Twitter, there are 500 million tweets posted each day. What’s more, an average of 70 million images are shared on Instagram daily. Add websites and email to that list and you have a flood of information that is impossible to keep up with.
Many authors are scratching their heads trying to figure out which channels, if any, to use.
The truth is, success is not about finding the right channel; it’s about defining strategy first, and then plugging in the right channels to reach your goals. Facebook is not a strategy. It’s a tactic.
The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics
Sometimes we have a hard time distinguishing the difference between strategy and tactics. But think of strategy as the why behind the what (tactic). If you don’t start with the why, you won’t be able to choose the right what. In other words, I don’t want to be on Facebook or Pinterest just because everyone else is. That would indicate my goal is to be like everyone else (my why). You have to complete the sentence: I am going to maintain an active presence on Facebook because [why]. Start with the why.
Your why could be any number of reasons depending on your marketing goals:
- I want to use my Facebook page to develop an advance reader team.
- I want to take advantage of Facebook’s advertising platform to grow my newsletter subscriber list.
- I want to build personal connections with my loyal readers.
- I would like to partner with other authors in events like book launches and giveaways.
You Have to Start with Strategy
Strategy is a roadmap. Think of it like Google Maps. You are going on a road trip: when you type your destination into the directions function, you see a map with a line drawn from your location to your destination. That is your strategy—get from point A to point B. Now, if you scroll down under the map, you’ll see the step-by-step directions that will get you to your destination, including the miles between each step. Those individual directions are your tactics.
If my strategy is to build a newsletter email list of 10,000 subscribers, I have defined points A and B, and I can now make a list of tactics that will get me there. One of them may be to use a sign-up app on my Facebook page. Another may be to use Facebook ads. Another may be to put a newsletter sign-up in the front and back matter of my ebooks. I may also embed a sign-up widget on my website. One strategy, many tactics.
The Backwards Temptation
It’s easy to get this backwards. Too many people jump on a social media channel with no plan of attack because they honestly don’t know what they want to accomplish there. They haven’t answered the why. This is such a terrible waste of your time. Figure out what you want to accomplish first and then come up with a list of tactics that will get you to your goal. Social media may or may not play a part in it.
Just remember: social media is not a strategy. Social media is a tactic. Strategy before tactics. Stick to your plan, and you will spend a lot less time on social media and realize more success.
I’ve been helping clients put together strategic social media plans for eight years, and they all have the same epiphany: when you start with goals and end with tactics, social media marketing becomes much less complicated and much more straightforward. You’re not creating a recipe; you’re creating a customized plan of attack and choosing the tools that will insure your success.
This is part five in a five-part series on SMART social media marketing by Chris Syme.
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