A common problem for many businesses when adopting social media is moving too fast – jumping in feet first without a clear strategy.

As when crossing a busy road, there’s an awful lot of traffic and noise in social media that you must learn how to negotiate in order to avoid a pile-up. You were probably taught as a child to Stop, Look and Listen when crossing the street; now it’s time to learn the social media version: Listen, Look, Engage and Stop.

Listen. Listen for social media conversations about your brand, industry and competitors to discover what is being said. It will help you identify conversations and questions you can respond to, issues you may need to address and key advocates or detractors.

Look. Research where online your audience lives. Are they on LinkedIn? Do they use forums? You should only have a presence on a social community because it’s where you can reach your audience, not because everyone else is using it. If this means you don’t use Facebook, it’s ok!

Engage. What are you going to say? Social media communities respond to conversational content that engages them, rather than self-promotional items simply broadcast at them.  Is your content something of use or interest to your market? Will it encourage questions and discussions? Remember, it’s all about your audience.

Stop. It’s important to regularly stop and evaluate the results of your social media activities. Are you hitting key KPIs? Are your target channels producing the right kind of engagement? This is your chance to tweak and refine your strategy before heading back out there to do it all over again!

Abide by these basic safety rules and you stand a far better chance of not becoming a statistic on the social media highway!

Have you followed a similar approach to adopting social media? Do you find that having a strategy produces better results for you?