Joseph Knecht is the managing director of Vipa Solutions, a technology services company.

There isn’t a website that passes through Vipa deployment that isn’t filled with social icons, “Like” buttons, and various widget feeds.

All too often these elements are nothing more than design features that give the site a “socially strategized” look and feel.

As a kid on Long Island, a wise fisherman once told me, “Even the best worms will catch you nothing in an empty pond.”

Similar to a fishing expedition, creating an online social strategy greatly benefits from these three elements:

  1. Purpose
  2. Placement
  3. Process

Let’s explore each.

Whatcha fishing for?

Define the purpose. Preparedness is imperative (that Snoopy pole isn’t going to work so well reeling in a Pacific Yellowtail). Goals, expectations, and measuring results are equally critical.

As social media platforms continue to accelerate brand imprints and customer engagement, the ROI equally becomes even more difficult to qualify, making definition of the purpose for lead fishing all the more important.

  • Are your Facebook fans going to receive incentives to purchase?
  • Will they assist with program development?
  • After you build up your Twitter account, will your agency initiate a communication plan? containing product and service features?Gathering an audience of listeners is truly the definition of social strategy. Be sure you are prepared to communicate now that you’ve caught their ear.

Where’s the best place to cast your line?

Let’s face it, web users are “click-aholics” who need quick direction to the information they are looking for. Keep this in mind when designing a website.

Web templates have programmed users to look high and scroll low for navigational direction. General social links live safely in these areas when the brand itself has great curb appeal and customer awareness. But remember, immature brands (the one’s relying very heavily on social strategy working to improve their awareness) require a bit more strategy.

Customer loyalty always begins with a first date – a call to action (product purchase, contest submission, event RSVP, commenting, etc.).  Flanking the high-activity sections of the website with social links is most effective.

Reel It In!

You’ve gone the distance – you’ve planned, baited the hook, and lo and behold, you have a bite!

Do you set the hook first, start reeling, and then reach for your phone to do a quick mobile upload to your Facebook?

As we continue looking forward to the evolution of marketing, we can’t forget about the things we learned in Marketing 101. We often encourage our clients to think of social strategy as an interactive, never-ending tradeshow (urg, for those who have been caged in a 10×10 booth are likely nauseated by the words “never-ending” being associated with tradeshow). Just as we plan for a tradeshow (planned scripts, takeaways, personalized attention and incentives to engage), we need to plan our online social campaigns.

So before you head out to your next website lead fishing exhibition remember to define your purpose, think about placement and have a plan before casting out for the big catch.

Joseph Knecht is the managing director of Vipa Solutions, a technology services company that partners with advertising, marketing and PR agencies providing proven processes and web-based tools for agencies to manage their client’s websites, event registration and online marketing services.