The 5 “Ws” of an Effective Social Media Strategy

Clients often ask, “Should we be on LinkedIn? What about Twitter and Google Plus? And I’ve been hearing a lot about Pinterest and Instagram — should we try those, too?”

The answer is, “Maybe.”

Social media is exciting and it can be a very powerful marketing tool. There are a lot of social networking sites, with new ones appearing all the time. But while these sites are free, it costs you time and effort to maintain your company’s presence on them. And an ineffective presence will work against you.

The key to deciding where and how you will invest your time online is to start with a well-defined social media strategy. And you can do this by thinking about those “5 Ws” you learned back in school.

WHO: I’ve already written about the most important component of a social media strategy: focus. Before you take any other steps, you need to decide exactly who your target audience is.

WHAT: What information will your audience find valuable and engaging? Only about 20% of the content your business shares through social media should be promotional. The rest should provide information that’s useful to your prospects, whether it’s industry news and insight, how-to information or tips.

WHERE: Where does your audience spend their time online? Pinterest is a fun marketing tool, but it won’t do you much good if your target audience doesn’t use it. Or you may find that your B2B prospects spend a lot of time on Facebook, but only for personal use. Do some research to see how your industry is using social media, and poll your customers to see where they want to engage with you online.

WHEN: Determine how often you will blog and post to your social media outlets, then create an editorial calendar to make the process as easy as possible. Plan out your topics and messaging at least two weeks in advance, and be sure to note key events you can tie into, such as holidays or upcoming trade shows.

WHY: After you’ve answered all the other “W” questions, step back and ask, “Why?” Periodically assessing how your social media fits into your overall marketing plan and why your audience will find this information helpful will go a long way in keeping your strategy efficient and on track.


All effective social media starts with a well-crafted strategy. Please contact us if you need help creating or implementing a powerful social media strategy for your business.

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