By Stanford Smith, Contributing {grow} Columnist

It starts as an uneasy feeling when you look at your social media stats.

Poring through the numbers you realize that traffic to your blog is stuck at average barely moving 10% in any direction. Your Twitter following is methodically growing by 2-3 spam bots a day.  The only way to juice your Facebook following is by paying .50 a fan.

Instead of being the hot social media leader, it seems you’ve become the caretaker of a stagnant community like the corner bar 10 years past its glory years.

What Happened?

Frankly, the social media intelligentsia failed you.  Tough words I know but hear me out.  First social media as a quasi-discipline is still very young.  Although we are working hard at it, many strategies are barely out of the testing stage.  Add the rush to crown the latest tool or tactic as a game changer and you’ve got a confused hodgepodge of “so-so” advice.

In an effort to standardize the fundamentals much of the social media advice has settled into a familiar rut.

Once interesting (even pivotal) techniques like picking the right audience, write “epic” posts, answer comments, build an email list are old hat.  Everyone has followed the same blog, Facebook, Twitter guide book and ended up with variations on the mean.

Sadly you can visit blogs for hours without seeing a truly breakthrough strategy.    Since we are all using the same tools and techniques we are arriving at the same irritating and disheartening performance plateau together.

If we are going to jumpstart our efforts and push past the plateau we need to go back to a different set of basics.

The 3Cs

Kenichi Ohmae, known as Mr. Strategy, spent 20 years at McKinsey, the management consulting titan, honing his craft. His most notable achievement was the creation of the 3Cs — a deceptively simple framework for businesses to achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

It so happens that it’s a nifty tool for building a kick-ass social media strategy too.

The 3Cs are Customer, Company, and Competition.  Focusing on what makes you special in each of these areas is the secret sauce.

Let’s give it the 3C’s on a spin through your social strategy:

Customer:

All readers aren’t created equal.  Some readers need to hear your perspective and learn your product’s benefit more than others.  Segmenting your readers into specific sub-groups with specific needs uncovers opportunities for building deeper levels of relevancy and rapport.

Social media strategies miss the mark when the business builds content from product features rather than customer needs.  Review your content and platforms and ask “who are we talking to?”  “Will this audience feel that this information and relationship is built specifically for them?”

Company:

Your audience is searching for what makes you and your business unique.  They don’t care about your sanitized PR boilerplate.  They want to know the story behind your founding, products, and people.  Your readers are looking for evidence that you aren’t the faceless 1% that doesn’t care about the other 99%.

It’s your job to find the drama, the unexpected stories, the customer “aha’s” that drive every great company and nestle them into your Facebook posts, Pinterest Pins, and blog posts.

Competition:

There’s an insidious practice in business called “benchmarking.”  It works like this, you go out and evaluate your competitor’s social activities.  After some discussion, you copy them.  You match their Facebook presence, you tweet as much as they do, you deposit the prerequisite number of blog posts.  Basically, benchmarking paints you into the same mediocre corner as your competition.

Do this instead, look for the needs your competition ignores.  Focus your time and resources on one platform rather than mimicking the crowd.  Pick topics that reinforces your strengths and attracts readers from your competitors.

Your Turn

I don’t have a magic bullet WordPress plugin or shiny new platform for you.  A quick Google search will give you all the tricks you’ll ever need.  Instead, focus on the core strategic choices that matter.

Here’s the microphone, can you use the 3C’s to jumpstart your social media strategy?

Contributing Columnist Stanford Smith obsesses about how to get passionate people’s blogs noticed and promoted at Pushing Social, except when he’s chasing large mouth bass!

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