Thursday, September 29, 2011
It used to be that clients came to us and said, “We need a new brochure.” Then they started saying, “We need a new website.” Now it’s, “We don’t know what to do with our Facebook page. Can you help?” As an integrated marketing strategy firm, we believe that addressing tactics or channels in a vacuum is a mistake. We always counsel our clients to start at the top (with objectives) then work their way down the ladder to target, then identity, and ultimately, tactics.
This is true when developing a long-term, strategic brand platform and marketing plan as well as when developing a social media program. My previous posts in this series covered the WHO, WHAT and WHY of social media. This one covers the HOW, the strategy development process for social marketing.
Social media deserves a well-defined strategy just like any other channel category needs a guiding strategy. Most companies probably have an overarching brand or marketing strategy, but probably also have (or should have) complementary sub-strategies for:
- Paid media placements
- Public relations
- Direct marketing
- Etc., etc., etc.
Social media should be treated like any other channel category and the following steps should be taken (in order) BEFORE undergoing any tactical implementation:
- Gain consensus among key leaders around a singular objective; what are we trying to accomplish with social media?
- Develop a detailed target profile; it’s important to understand our primary audience demographically, psychologically, and from an online behavioral standpoint
- Create a distinct brand position in the social media space; define how you will relate to your target and how will you stand out from your competitors
- Design a communications plan that will address your objective, most effectively reach your target, and best support your brand identity; in other words, determine which social media outlets, what types of content, and when to post/respond/share
I can’t stress enough how important it is to address each of these items in order before you launch into social media. If you’ve already started your social media endeavors, you can still evaluate your actions using these four guidelines. A sound social media strategy is imperative to put your brand on a path to success. And this strategy should mesh well with the rest of your brand’s marketing program in order to create a seamless experience for your target audience.
That wraps up this brief series on social media. If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to read more about my additional precautionary guidelines dealing with the WHO, WHAT and WHY of social media.
If you’re interested in an audit of your marketing plan, you can reach Emily at EGriebel@mwcmail.com, or @MWCemily on Twitter.