Millions of bytes of information already exist out there covering how to approach building a social media strategy. Few come with the street cred of Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang.

Check out this excellent article “Developing a Social Strategy.” Step through the slides. Key takeaways:

  • First listen and learn
  • Engage, but focus on sharing and watching
  • Look at ways to support your customers and help them solve their problems
  • Engage your customers in your innovation — what are their ideas?
  • Start small, focusing on one business goal where social media can have an impact — and gauge success by how well you reached the business goal
  • Practice and preach openness — this takes courage!

Their follow on “Understand Your Customers’ Social Behaviors” is also worth a look. Their report focuses on how it’s important to conduct research to identify the social behaviors of your customers before you do anything. For example, identify:

  • Where customers are online (use surveys, brand monitoring)
  • Who customers trust (surveys)
  • Who customers influence (surveys, brand monitoring)
  • How customers use social tools in the context of your products

Once you understand, the plan can be built.