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Is Your Social Media Plan Missing The Point?: 7 Checks For An Effective Social Media Strategy

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 24 Jun, 2010
Essential Essential topic

Being partly fascinated by infographs at the moment, I thought I'd share this one that has always intrigued me. It's also a great example of how to create a viral effect in a B2B market by producing something exceptionally useful and shareworthy - you can see how effective it has been as a viral agent - it's been around as a couple of years.

This infograph terrifies me for two simple reasons:

  1. Naturally, all I (we) ever hear people talk about are the big 4: Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and LinkedIn - and though this appears common sense it struck me that looking at that infograph we're not even skimming the surface of the reach we could have based on where relevant conversations and interactions are taking place - and those big 4 are also starting to get busy - imagine 18 months from now when more companies, your competitors, really start to "€œget it"€.
  2. It"€™s always tools without strategy - people always seem to talk about tools (typically those big 4) and forget to think about HOW and WHY they"€™re going to be relevant in social media, the tools need to come last because they change in terms of usage and literally -  where was Twitter 3 years ago, Facebook 5 years on your list of stuff to worry about? This recent study notes that more than half of companies have no social media strategy at all.

Do the above two points ring any bells with you?

Here"€™s my seven steps to help ensure you keep on the road to success

1. Make it clear why you are involved in social media at all?

I"€™ve posted on this before - if you don"€™t have goals how can you possibly expect an effective plan to fall from that. Keep it simple, have fewer goals and hang them around one clear strategy, such as creating awareness, lead generation, sale or brand loyalty. There has to be a purpose that you and the company can really get behind, and then use that as a basis to measure value.

2. Define your audience

Social media is still beholden to the same rules of direct marketing in that you don"€™t want to talk to everybody, you want to talk to somebody - specifically your customers and potential customers. So define them - who are they exactly?

Where are your audience in their level of awareness of your brand? Several direct marketing books that I remember well illustrate the journey from "€˜prospects"€™ (a defined audience segment) who are not aware of your company at one end, right through to being "€˜advocates"€™ (repeat referrers and purchasers) at they other end - ideally you convert all prospects, to leads, to sale and then inspire advocacy. So where on this scale are you targeting your strategy? Do you want advocates to be empowered and motivated to rave about you - or are you hoping to raise awareness amongst prospects who don"€™t know you yet? It"€™s crucial to be clear.

3. Understand how your customers currently use social media?

Where and *how* are your customers and prospects using social media? Check out the Forrester Technographics ladder to define that independently, it"€™s a great tool to tighten up your understanding. Also, consider uploading a customer database sample (email address only) to Flowtown and Rapleaf and finding out for real - then show your boss *exactly* where your leads and customers are. Of course, don"€™t forget you can just ask them as well with a simple email survey or by briefing your telesales team! 🙂

4. Create a listening culture

I read a blog post earlier this year (sorry, I can"€™t remember who) and it said that social media does not create buzz, it"€™s a vehicle to allow you to uncover it, I think the same person said that "€œTwitter is the canary in the digital coal mine"€ - brilliant!

How can your team (and I"€™m thinking cross-functional here: marketing, sales, customer service) create a mindset and a process to monitor what"€™s been said in different on-site and off-site locations. You can also monitor your share of voice this way vs competitors. These might be customer comments in an industry forum, or a powerful industry blogger who"€™s not happy. On that last point - all "€˜buzz"€™ isn"€™t the same, the reality is that the noise from someone influential in your industry with tens of thousands of Twitter followers has more immediate impact on your brand than someone like me with a few hundred friends on Facebook.

5. Stand for something and be passionate

Gary Vaynerchuck talks about passion in his book: "€˜Crush It"€™, and how that passion is and should be the core of your brand. Call it soul or whatever, it"€™s the emotive core to your business. The beauty is that as marketers we understand this and the good news is it is also the core of everything you do online. My belief is that if you can bring that to life in a *human* way (check out the book: Cluetrain Manifesto) then you"€™re almost certain of success. People want to connect, they want to hook up - *it"€™s only about connecting people - with brands and with each other*.

So how are you going to humanize the passion, the core, of your business? Whatever it is be genuine and authentic. Seth Godin said it years ago (his book: All Marketers Are Liars) - create authentic stories that are easy to tell, and be re-told by customers. Consider bringing important or real team members to the fore in your marketing. Think about how you might inspire customers to share their perspective with other potential customers for you.

6. Build social media out-posts that draw relevant traffic

Credit to Chris Brogan for so simply describing this concept. Decide what is your "€˜Home Base"€™ - it may be a forum or social network on your own domain, it can easily be a Facebook fan page - then (applying the points listed above) choose the relevant tools of the day that give you best penetration into your market. Yes Facebook, yes You Tube... and what about the niche blogs, forums and networks in your industry? It"€™s on several of these out-posts where you can seed content that spark interaction, add value, and hopefully inspire people to come to your home base.

7. Measure it

Whatever "€œit"€ is based on your strategy (see point 1). Measuring "€˜fans"€™, "€˜likes"€™ and "€˜followers"€™ is insightful but does not have the same inherent business value when you talk to your directors and managers. Nobody can understand if 1,000 fans is a good thing, make the metrics relevant to the business. There is not a one size fits all way of measuring, it"€™s down to what you value, your industry and the tools you ultimately use to do the job.

Success comes from integrating social media (just as you would paid search or email) into the marketing mix - it's not the new magic bullet. Hopefully you can do this naturally and organically when your focusing on people and interactions, not tools and less relevant KPI's.

Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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