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6 Tips for Developing Social Media Strategy

Once you've signed up for and learned to use the popular social media sites, you now need to create a plan for your operation. Whether you are focusing on one social media platform or four, it's a good practice to develop a social media strategy.

Be sure to consult with your communications department before you begin developing your plan, as there may be specific rules and regulations regarding social media. Plus, your organization may already have a presence on social media sites and may want you to only use their accounts. The communications department may also have some suggestions for how you can best reach out to customers.

Determine the Time You Can Commit. The first thing you need to consider is the amount of time you can commit to maintaining a social media presence. Be realistic, don't overextend yourself. If this is a departmental initiative, you also need to consider resources and staff time. You likely won't be able to commit to running a campaign on multiple social media network sites. It is okay to start off small and focus on one area.

Know Your Audience. Understanding the audience you are trying to reach now and in the future is very important to the success of any social media strategy. If you are using more than one social media platform, you might have a different audience for each.

Define Your Objectives. It is important to develop a clear idea of your goals for using social media. What do you hope to accomplish by actively participating on social networks? Setting specific objectives allows you to utilize these social media tools in the best possible way.

Create Your Messaging. Once you define your objectives, you then need to create your messaging. Messaging involves not just what you say, but how you want to say it. Keep in mind your objectives. They should help guide you in determining what you want to say. Always keep the information you post positive. Do not respond to negative criticism angrily or with negative remarks.

Spread the Word - Advertise. Let the public know what social media networks your organization is active on. Advertise your Twitter or Facebook account on your program's web page. Include the links to your social media pages on your menus. By discussing your involvement, you will hopefully have more people follow you.

Source: “Social School Lunch: A How-To Guide on Social Media for School Nutrition Programs,” 2010, School Nutrition Association.

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