Social media marketing: objective, audience, commitment

14 10 2008

As a member of the American Marketing Association, I belong to a special interest group (SIG) focused on all things related to marketing strategy. On Friday, a fellow SIG member posted a question he had about creating a Facebook fan page.

What he was looking for was advice on how to go about promoting his company on Facebook, the relative pros and cons of doing so and what first steps he should take. What he was looking for was advice on creating a social media strategy.

Since social media is still new to many marketers and companies out there, I’m going to share via this post the suggestions I gave to my fellow SIG member.

1) Know thy objective
The first thing to think about when implementing a social marketing strategy/campaign is the objective. What do you want to get out of the initiative? What does success look like? How will it tie back to your corporate objectives?

2) Know thy audience
Take a good look at the audience you want to target, and where they are building conversations online. e.g. no sense building a Facebook fan page if your audience doesn’t use Facebook.

A good approach when trying out social technologies for the first time (as a corporate communciations strategy) is to go where your target audience is and engage them the same way they use these technologies themselves.

e.g. if they blog – comment on their blog posts and link back to your own blog. If they participate in forums, contribute to the conversation there.

3) Value is as value does
Consider the value you are bringing to the audience. Don’t engage them to just to talk about your business. Be sure you are contributing valuable/educational info that makes your audience want to keep engaging with you. the value you bring to the conversations taking place online will help you to earn trust and credibility.

4) Be committed
Building up dialogue using social technologies can take time. You need to continually be adding to the conversation on a regular basis otherwise you’ll lose momentum and interest will taper off. You should be actively communicating via your chosen social media channel a minimum of three times a week. If that’s too much, try to be as consistent as possible.

A key to success that I’ve found in implementing corporate social media strategies is to find people within your organization who want to engage your customers, your partners, etc. online. It doesn’t have to be the marketing or PR-Communications person doing it all.

Find the person or people within your organization who have the knowledge/information your audience will care about. It’s helpful if this kind of activity is something they want to do. It also helps if it’s part of their job function. 🙂

5) Be authentic
People will spot a phony a mile away. If you misrepresent yourself or your company online, the backlash will be harsh and unrelenting. You only need to read about the Walmart blogging fiasco or the Whole Foods astroturfing fiasco to see why. (See wikipedia for a definition of astroturfing). The point is: don’t misrepresent yourself and don’t lie. Ever.

6) Don’t be an island
Social media marketing should not be done in isolation. Consider how it can support other initiatives in your marketing mix.

7) Measure and adapt
Assess how your competitors or other companies similar to yours are using social tools, e.g. like a Facebook fan page. Is there something they are doing you can emulate or improve upon? Then benchmark what success looks like:

  • so many comments per week
  • quality of those comments
  • number of people who register to your community, fan page, forum, etc or subscribe to your RSS feed
  • what kinds of people are visiting? (demographic)
  • what other marketing initiatives drove traffic to this page?
  • what is the financial impact/outcome?
  • look at what people are saying elsewhere -not just on your Facebook fan page, blog, Twitter profile, etc.

Knowing your objective, knowing how your audience communicates using social media and being committed are the keys to your success.

The above is by no means a 360˚ view on how to implement a social media strategy, but I hope it provides the essence of where to begin. If you have further suggestions or comments on this topic, please share them via the comments section below.

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2 responses

14 10 2008
Aaron Uhrmacher

Great advice here. Now that the “novelty” of corporate social media initiatives has begun to wear off, I hope we’ll see more strategic uses in the coming months. And thanks for adding my article as a resource!

15 10 2008
melgallant

Thanks Aaron. And with the economic downturn wreaking havoc on businesses and consumers alike, there is even more need to focus marketing efforts and dollars. The good thing is that a social media strategy is a cost-effective solution as long as you plan appropriately.

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