There is a plethora of year end assessments, recommendations, views, retorts, suggestions, debates around how social media will evolve in 2015. For me, and for those I will advise in 2015, I would suggest some very basic, but critical, ideas to be strategically social in 2015.

DEFINE/REFINE YOUR NETWORKS

Determine where you want to have a voice and presence in the social networks. If you are like me you likely have your baseline of established networks. My established networks include email and campaigns via ConstantContact. Twitter is still my favourite daily choice. Facebook remains more personal for me, but I’ve also created a Devins Network page, as well as a page for the Coney Island Music Festival (volunteer founder). YouTube is established, but I’m not generating a lot of content there (just me at this stage I think I’d be wise to do more there) but, it remains critical as a network. Google + is set up but I’m drawn there from posts I receive, more than regularly generating content myself. I’ve found that LinkedIN is a really strong networking site for business opportunity and personal outreach. LinkedIN has a lot of interesting groups to engage within. Ello is still a discovery frontier for me…more to explore there as I define my game plan for getting more strategically social in 2015.

There are also “new networks” emerging and worth considering as a fit (or not) for your business purpose. I’m not on snapchat, but I sure see a lot of the younger generation using it voraciously. An idea might be refining your current networks to make sure that they are really working hard enough for you. Once you are totally satisfied that they are working hard for you, look at what others you might play with and explore. For a reality check, I always like to consider my networks as “separate phone lines” in a home or office. Truly assess and evaluate how many you want to be answering daily. These communication vehicles will be your “strategically social in 2015” pathways to success, or just long winding paths in a dark and crowded woods.

What defines working hard ? What is fundamental to choosing your networks ? Fundamental and working hard is knowing what “purpose” the networks will lead and generate for you, your business, your brand, your campaign or your community project.

MEASUREMENT – ANALYTICS

Is it just a fire hose of tweets, posts, videos, chats and photos coming at you from the web ? If it is, it might often feel like a blizzard or a hurricane wind. However, if you actually determine how you might map out measuring what’s coming at you – you will discover nuggets of insight that will ultimately help you shape your networking to meet your business or personal goals. What are your goals and how will you measure success. It’s a simple as that to define the metrics that are most important for you to be strategically social in 2015. Have you at least undertaken to load google analytics or a measurement tool for your social channel ? Lots of choices out there. The folks at Simply Measured offer great articles on a regular basis.

PICK THE TOOLS

In refining, defining and systematizing your networks; you will likely find comfort with a few tools in social. Great standbys are the early platforms of TweetDeck, HootSuite, Google Analytics, Google Apps. I have personally found that SocialBro is a great tool for managing Twitter. I’ve also used Ubervu as a tool for managing twitter response with my team and associates. Buffer and Hootsuite offer good tools for communicating across social channels. I haven’t seen a single person dispute that video and photos will continue to be critically important in drawing attention to your posts and content. I continue to like Vine, for seven second video clips. I have experimented a bit with Keek and naturally Instagram continues to realize significant growth and adoption.

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE

You can determine when you want to be “on” or “off” but the recommendation would be to have access on all of your devices. Be up and running on your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet or droid. There will likely be more aggregators and cross platform offerings through 2015. Accessibility and the ability to communicate is key.

DIALOGUE

The medium is “social”. Thus, get social with people in your networks. I notice that many brands appear to be slipping into more of a a traditional marketing “push” approach in their social networks. Do you ever ask “why” someone unfollowed you ? I’ve always been a huge proponent of “engagement” in social networks. That means talking with (not to) your followers, supporters, franchise or audience. They also feel a lot more positive about you as a brand or person if you actually engage in dialogue with them.  You can build loyalty and franchise support by two way communication. Catch yourself when you might be falling into a one way communicative approach and trap. Be more strategically social in 2015 by having more conversations within your networks each day.

CONNECT

Where are the nuggets of opportunity in your connections ? You may have a large network of followers or likes or views, but are you truly harvesting opportunity through all of those connections ? A consideration for getting strategically social in 2015 is to really get to know what connections are your loyalists, referrals and business prospects. Connect and target for results.

LEARN

I smile each day that I hear someone suggest that there is a “rule” or a “best practice” in something that they are doing or seeing in social networking. I’ll give credit that there are some powerful consistent learned approaches. But, I fail to accept that we’re at the end of learning in social networking approaches. I also think that approaches can differ between individuals, brands, associations, organizations, politicians and campaigns. Folks…we are still writing the book(s) ! Thus embracing the opportunity to continue to learn more, explore more, try new things is a great start for being strategically social in 2015. One of my own personal favourites is the work that Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch do. They have a passion for learning, taking on new approaches and embracing opportunities to re-invent throughout the year. On a more macro basis I’ve always been a big believer and admirer of the work conducted by Legacy Transformational Consulting.

NEW TO ALL THIS ??

If “new” to all of this, I just realized that I may have lost you way back up at the top of this post. If you are just starting out, I’d recommend assessing what network might be your natural choice. Who have you heard is on it ? Where are your friends networking ? Where are your customers networking ? Who is important to your business, brand, campaign, life; and where are they connecting on the web ? What are your competitors doing ?  Is it better for one to one, business to consumer or business to business ? PITCH – I’d gladly chat with you on some ideas that might be suited for you to launch into social networks to learn, grow and bring power to you and and / or your business, brand, community or campaign. I would gladly have a conversation about how you might get more strategically social in 2015.

So, here’s to the new year and an opportunity to embrace it with an approach that is a little bit more strategically social in 2015. Happy New Year ! @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork.