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How companies can create a social media strategy from scratch

How companies can create a social media strategy from scratch

By Jenny Zirinsky, Head of Digital, OMD International.

In today’s world, there is no escaping social media. The whole internet is becoming increasingly socialised and this trend is set to continue. Social media is not a channel or a platform but a lens through which all activity should be viewed, which is why OMD’s social media competencies are integrated within the wider agency.

It can seem overwhelming for brands keen to create a social media strategy, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, when we were helping to develop the global social media strategy for Finlandia, we immersed 14 clients from across Europe into social media. For five weeks we all communicated on a daily basis using social media tools.

This ensured that everyone was comfortable with this new world before we met for a two-day strategy session. Finlandia came away from the session armed with a clear strategic view on how to behave within the social space, how to use social media to engage their audience to drive results in the real world, and specific ideas for activating this strategy.

Social media guiding principles

There are as many ‘social media principles’ as there are supposed social media experts, but below are some of OMD’s key principles in the social space.

Listen: What is being said about your brand? Show that you are present and interested. Ask people what they want from you in this space, and learn from them.
Respond: Be useful by answering questions and concerns that arise.
Converse: Act as a person would. Enter into dialogue.
Lead: Add value and lead by providing social currency with aspirational or humorous stories, insider information and special offers.
Encourage Trialogue: It is just as important to encourage users and partners to converse with one another in mutually beneficial ways as it is to engage with individuals as a brand. This is a true community.
Devolve Power: Strong communities can give power to members, so actively involve them in the brand. Involve and leverage your advocates. Incentivise and reward them for taking some of the responsibility in growing and developing the community.

The OMD approach to a brief

Resist the urge to simply activate all areas of social media, such as Facebook fan pages or Twitter streams. Take a rigorous approach to social media strategy development, founded on research and insights.


We start by clearly defining the task.
Stakeholders – for whom we need to deliver for, and how we can potentially leverage their pooled assets.
Audiences – relative importance of different consumers and their specific markets.
Available resource – including personnel and budget available for activating and maintaining a social presence.
Existing assets and platforms – a full audit of the current ‘state of play’ of your brand in the social space, and currently used assets.
Measurement – ensure we deliver metrics that hit your brand’s strict ROI target while also enabling ongoing learning and insight development in order to evolve with the social space.


Next we conduct research to frame our social media strategy. As well as international sampling and focus groups, we draw on the OMD Snapshots panel to get a clearer understanding of important areas.

Audiences – how do your consumers differ in their perception of your brand both in and out of the social space?
Expectations – what do your consumers want and expect from the brand in the social space? What do they see as its role, and where do they want it to be?
Tone of voice – how should you communicate with audiences, is there a difference in tone and approach between individual market activities?

In addition, we would also examine:
Buzz – what people are saying about you, both globally and in our key market.
Competitive space – evaluating the competitive presence in social media and examining the best and worst examples of what other brands are doing, as both inspiration and cautionary tale.
– Potential partners / ‘frenemies’ – broad consideration of potential partners and influential individuals with whom we can align your brand.
Social media ‘channels’ – analysis of key platforms and opportunities in each markets.
SEO – evaluating current integration of social media into natural search, and ways to improve.
Measurement – OMD uses a number of buzz and sentiment tools
Attentio, Brandwatch, White Vector, Radian 6 – which will all be considered.

Ideation and prototyping

With a clear direction and understanding of assets, audiences and potential limitations, OMD will then brainstorm to develop a long list of ‘divergent’ ideas. This will frame the range of possible strategic solutions for an OMD Ignition session.

What next?

An OMD Ignition workshop enables us to collaboratively work through potential strategies and tactics with our clients. It’s the perfect environment to ensure that all stakeholders are involved, excited and engaged with the new strategy that we develop together.

The idea of developing a social media strategy can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. OMD Ignition is perfectly placed to help you navigate the ever-changing world of technology. We understand the importance of ensuring your social media is integrated with the rest of your communications, that it’s not a channel but a lens. We also understand the importance of collaboration if a new strategy is to achieve long-term consensus.

And it doesn’t stop at strategy; an OMD Ignition workshop will also create a detailed action plan to activate the agreed approach.

Let us help you harness the power of social media for your brand, whether it’s developing a strategy from scratch with a clear view on how you should behave within the social space or helping you drive even better business results with your existing social strategy. Email for more details.

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