Stop and Listen: A Guide to a Solid Social Media Strategy

Turn a Flimsy Social Media Strategy Into a Solid Plan

It’s tough.

There’s no doubt about it that social media can often feel like you’re trying to catch a fish with your bare hands against a rushing river (and maybe even blindfolded). Platforms, algorithms, dynamics, interfaces, access to data – what made sense or was available yesterday is constantly being swept away by today’s updates, news, and the frequently changing landscape.

Before you go nuts over “best practices” and are persuaded that buying fans is the way to go, hold up. Your social media success won’t happen overnight, nor will it happen because you posted at a specific time based on someone else’s strategy. It is different for every niche and every brand: There’s no formula or a “one size fits all” strategy.

It takes creativity, time, a little risk, and data to determine what will work for you. Allow this to be your DIY guide to build a solid foundation for your social media platform to grow – we’ve even included a few reminders to keep you motivated.

Determine Your Strategy

Before you can do anything, there are several questions you must ask yourself:

  1. What are your goals with social media?
  2. What message do you want to convey about your brand?
  3. Does your audience prefer a social media platform?
  4. How does your audience interact on those platforms?

These answers will help you determine what platforms you should stick to as well as the type of content you should create to get the most out of your strategy.

Remind me again: Why I should do this? A strong social media presence will help you increase your exposure to achieve your professional and/or personal branding goals.

5 Rules of Engagement

  • Listen: Your audience is talking and sharing. Listen to them and observe what they like, dislike, want, need, and more.
  • Original: Create content that is unique and has immeasurable value by truly connecting with your readers’ emotions, interests, etc.
  • Quality: Typos, images that are “2000 and late,” and any other poor quality content is embarrassing. Go quality or go home.
  • Relevant: Avoid creating noise by providing your audience with information that is relevant to them or your brand’s message.
  • Tone: Think of social media like business-casual dress at a typical office. It might be okay to wear jeans and lose the tie, but your relationships should remain professional and friendly.

Remind me again: Why I should do this? Social media can help you gain incredible niche intelligence to become a respected thought leader.

6 Resources to Recognize Trends

Social media is all about keeping the pulse of the network. Recognize trends and participate in them to be more engaging and possibly go viral. Examples of trends include memes, topics, hashtags, gifs, viral videos, etc. Many of these items may seem frivolous or like they don’t relate to your core message, but using them shows you are present and paying attention. Here are several resources you can start using today to spot trends:

Remind me again: Why I should do this? Social media will help you build loyal fans.

Types of Social Media Content

Resist the urge to blatantly promote with self-serving information. Provide a diverse amount of content that targets the user’s interests and the social networking mentality or risk deflating your social media efforts. Try a combination of any of the following:

  • Pictures
  • Provide Opinions
  • Solicit Input
  • Status Updates
  • Tips
  • Ask Easy-to-Answer Questions
  • Links to Your Articles
  • Links to 3rd-Party Articles
  • Links to Blog Posts
  • Videos
  • Promotions and Contests
  • Cartoons, Jokes, and Funny Images
  • Trivia Questions
  • Likes and Recommendations
  • News Announcements
  • Sharing/Retweeting Other People’s Social Media Posts
  • Motivating or Inspiring Quotes
  • Future plans
  • Infographics

Also, be customer-centric. Rather than seeking out a customer contact form on your website, customers or clients will go to your social media pages because it’s more convenient and they are familiar with the territory. Keep this customer service outlet open and actively monitor your pages by responding to questions, comments, and more in a timely manner.

Remind me again: Why I should do this? A diverse presence on social media can help you generate pre-qualified leads.

Main Platforms to Stick To

It’s a good idea to create a profile for all of the following platforms in order to secure your page brand. However, there’s absolutely no need to maintain an active profile on all of them. Pick those that have the strongest social signals from your audience (typically 2 or 3 pages) and focus your energy on those to gain a good foothold. When you’re ready (and have the resources), then consider activating your presence on other social media platforms.

Remind me again: Why I should do this? Because if you’re not already on social media, you’re competitors are looking at you through their rearview mirror and you’ll struggle to succeed.

Be smart. Have a plan so you don’t waste your time and test, test, test. Try different types of content, conversations, and take a risk by jumping on a relevant trend when the time is right. If you use these tips, you’ll be looking at your competition through your rearview mirror.

What social media platform have you found the most success on? Did we leave any important information out? Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know – we’d really love to hear from you!


Mark writes:

Good pointers. We provide a service- financing for equipment and vehicles for small to mid-sized businesses; so our offering can be a little light on the “wow” factor. It’s something I struggle with in creating interesting content.

Comment provided January 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM


David Croucher writes:

Superb article! A real model of how the infirmative, persuasive article should be written. East to scan, clear sections, bulleted points with plain text commentary – hard to improve on. Even has to odd typo for humility!

More like this, please!

Comment provided January 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM


David Croucher writes:

Oppos – two typos of my own! Write in haste, forget to proofread, repent at leisure. It should be:

Superb article! A real model of how the informative, persuasive article should be written. Easy to scan, clear sections, bulleted points with plain text commentary – hard to improve on. Even has the odd typo for humility!


Ntathu Allen writes:

I agree David —really easy to read and excellent content..especially the timely reminders. I have bookmarked for everyday reference! yep…happy is the man who spots and self-corrects in time (lol)


Eileen writes:

What do you mean by “images that are ‘2000 and late'”?

Comment provided January 10, 2014 at 1:39 PM


Hi Eileen,

It’s a silly reference from a Black Eyed Peas song. :)



Serge writes:

These are awesome tips! If they are applied wisely I’m sure everyone’s social media strategy will jump increasingly.
And of course, while carrying out this strategy, one should stay as active as it’s possible, because being active is also one of the most relevant issues to keep social media on top.

Comment provided January 10, 2014 at 8:12 PM


Matthew Morris writes:

The biggest problem I see with many social media attempts is a focus on quantity over quality.

Comment provided January 10, 2014 at 10:08 PM



It is one of the most revolutionary tool to create profile and start sharing the huge chunk of thoughts opinions and everything ‘unique’ you are blessed with.

Comment provided January 11, 2014 at 12:00 PM


maxwell ivey writes:

Hello Vanessa; Thanks for an excellent post. I was encouraged by the fact that I have recently scaled back my social media efforts to only the six sites that you mentioned. I post status updates, share other people’s content, and comment on their social media posts when possible. One of the problems I have is that I am a blind computer user and often social media sites are not the most accessible places when using a screen reader. face book is the worst but more of my contacts are on it than any of the other top networks. However, I have noticed recently that several of my fb friends are moving to pinterest. I have also noticed that i get far better response when posting personal news like weight loss or concluded sales than i do from business posts about new amusement equipment for sale or site updates. And I just started recording my own youtube videos. I have done two so far and both got good reviews. The first one done december 27th has almost a hundred views so far. I feel very good about that. I hope you will check out my youtube page and let me know what you think. thanks and take care, max

Comment provided January 11, 2014 at 8:34 PM



Fantastic information. My problem is, I don’t know how to identify my audience and their needs.

Comment provided January 12, 2014 at 10:51 AM



Thanks for some good information. The most difficult part is to make business-like content that can be boring to the average consumer, appealing so that they would engage with it. If only there was a magical formula to that one!

Comment provided January 12, 2014 at 6:37 PM


Debra Kasowski writes:

Fabulous tips! Happy to say I have been practicing many of the things you suggest. Links to Youtube Videos have also been valuable for me.

Comment provided January 19, 2014 at 1:08 AM


Rosemary writes:

Hello Vanessa,thank you for your post,it came at the right time because I’m trying to get myself out there and needed a little encouragement because I’m not used to talking to a lot of people in public or on line or the phone.But I do have a lot to say and share with others who may be interested in learning how to help stop childhood obesity and life threating illnesses the ancient natural way giving down threw the centuries from our ancestors.I will start to write everyday in the way that is most beneficial and understanding to my readers.

Comment provided January 20, 2014 at 4:17 PM


Dale Moir writes:

Hi,thanks for the tips. I am looking into youtube as a marketing chanel. Are your main platforms to stick to in order of importance? i mean is google+ the least important of the bunch? :)

Comment provided January 20, 2014 at 6:16 PM


chester durden writes:

thanks for the tips

Comment provided January 21, 2014 at 1:44 PM


Idrus writes:

I was lucky, today I get an email ezine article submission. An entrance to discover this wonderful article. I have spent a lot of time interacting on social media and get a feeling of futility. That is because the response is minimal and not in line with expectations. Tips in this article provide excellent guidance for people like me.

Comment provided November 20, 2014 at 9:04 PM


John Smith writes:

A useful and suitable method, I will try it.

Comment provided January 15, 2018 at 10:09 PM


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