Where to start?
Social media marketing has a false reputation. For many business executives, this exercise boils down to a series of random social media check-ins and, from time to time, multimedia, article postings, and advertising on Facebook and Twitter. This is definitely not the right shot!
SMM is more than being present in the Sphere of Social Networks. It’s a sharp business commitment that can turn into total chaos if not handled properly. The goal of social marketing in cyberspace is the same as in the real world. It is about offering unique sales arguments that will end in concrete and sustained sales. It’s about turning an anon into a brand advocate at best. Achieving this goal basically follows almost the same rules except for the fact that Social Media allows for a closer, more personal and customizable, so to speak Social, approach to goals. The same rules apply but with more or less variations. Evaluating privileges, context, environment and tool sets is the essential starting point of any Social Media Marketing campaign. It involves careful setup and clinical precision in how messages and attitudes will be delivered through dedicated channels. Within such campaigns, posting to Facebook, a fan page, a group page, or a personal page is never the same process.
Here are 10 checklist points before getting involved in Social Media Marketing:
- Define your base strategy. Set up a budgeted roadmap with white stones in between that will help fine-tune the campaign along the way. Social Media Marketing is never an innocent act. It is very time consuming and will incur expenses. Being precise about the campaign will definitely lessen the burden. As said before, evaluate the main objective and the methodology. For example, you may need to totally revamp your actual website to allow for SM and SMO integration. Keep your campaign SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Relevant, and Time-bound. Go for Awareness, Sales or Loyalty. One at a time! Don’t try to hit all the targets at once. Remember! Stick to your company’s marketing and communication policy.
- Assess and understand your campaign environment. RESEARCH and don’t stop until you have enough! Surely one does not want to jump into dark waters without basic precautions and headlights. You too with your social media marketing campaign. Recklessly diving into social media can mean TOTAL MESS, especially when it comes to building product awareness and reputation. Building an effective Online Social Strategy implies in-depth knowledge of what competitors are doing on common platforms (of course)… but above all, having a humble foretaste of how others from different sectors have done or are doing it. Enter successful and unsuccessful case studies. Learn more about the technical potentials of each and every social media and platform.
- Identify these platforms and toolsets that are relevant and positively responsive to your roadmap. Social Media Marketing is about delivering the same consistent message across the entire spectrum of interlocking social networks. The intertwined winning triumvirate is made up of the Blog, Facebook, and Twitter, to which you’d add a YouTube account if you wanted to upload videos regularly. Choose strategically. For example, you may feel the need for Slideshare and LinkedIn accounts rather than a Foursquare one, if your product or service is more pitch-intensive B2B oriented. Your toolset should also be made up of listening and monitoring products.
- Budget and realistically size your online advertising. Use the full potential of the Google AdSense and Facebook advertising platforms, but be sure to segment wisely. Goal-linked marketing campaigns mean nothing without the right advertising. Now intuitive online advertising can be accessed in a few clicks and will definitely unleash your power to communicate about your brand globally. They can also improve diffusion to limited areas. Think of identifying and evaluating your goals in geographic terms. This will help optimize your online advertising budget. Choosing PPC or CPC is up to you based on the basic requirements of your roadmap.
- Establish a social media working group within your staff and find an outside person to operate as a community manager. The web never sleeps. Social Media Marketing is a perpetual roll-on 24/7. As such, it consumes time and resources. One should never expect to be able to handle a social media marketing campaign alone, especially if other core business duties are at stake. Instead, invite some of your staff to participate in social networks on behalf of your company. Be picky! Those who engage in such a sensitive and interactive task must write well, be tactful, creative, and loyal. External Community Managers are rarely partial and are limited to the sole responsibility of consolidating the activities of their working group in the relevant social networks. In either case, you need to build a team whose primary goals and capabilities are to listen, learn, and respond tactfully.
- Prefer influential relationships. Have your team identify the top bloggers and social media activists in your areas of interest and industry. This task is one of the hinges of the success of your campaign. Getting to talk to social media heavyweights is like hiring evangelists when trusting relationships. Getting Lady Gaga to like your boots is like tapping into a sea of opportunities of up to 9 million people who would only follow Gaga’s recommendations. Getting him to buy one would mean immediate success. BEWARE though! The adverse effect is also proportionately as great as the notoriety of your contact. Be sure of what you sell to him or her. A successful Social Media Marketing campaign starts here.
- Identify relevant measurement and benchmarking tools. They are proof of the success of your campaign or the need for improvement. For example, the increase in the number of likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter is an indicator of the health of your campaign. Knowing how many times your brand is mentioned across the web and scoring these comments helps fine-tune the campaign. You should also be able to keep track of your growing relationships and traffic coming from social platforms. Identifying prospects for future opportunities helps develop better strategies. Beware! In the current state of things, social media metrics can be tricky! In fact, you’ll need a wide range of results along with trend reports to be able to represent the exact snapshot of your ongoing campaign.
- Identify the offline components that will be needed to complement your online social marketing. Offline events are powerful conversion tools when organized properly and relevantly. Offline components can also mean socializing with people off the web, in the real world, offering real world prizes and giveaways, hosting rallies, bar camps, conferences and seminars…etc. Determine how these components can enhance your target’s brand experience and how they will fit relevantly into your online marketing scheme.
- Urge quality, relevant content when posting articles, media, and comments. Praising his 270-hp 1974 red Corvette when advocating green products on his blog isn’t the best of strategies. Be sure to establish editorial rules that will define consistent cross-platform content production both in terms of easy-to-read literature and technical specifications. Does an uploaded video have to be in HD on both YouTube and Facebook? What length should an article have? Should an article contain a generic common signature for multiple authors or should it bear the name of the actual author and why? One should always define these lines according to the target audience.
- It is urgent to remain HUMAN at every stage! Putting a social media marketing strategy in place is all about building your brand’s presence on social media where your quality, accessible content will deliver your organization’s values. Social media is about… Socialize first! People are soulful when it comes to attitudes and postures. They do not like to be harassed or taken as immature consumers. Being too technological, too commercial, degrades the social experience. Plain language and “real world” courtesy are the foundation for the best approach. Sometimes it’s more fruitful to start a discussion that may seem far removed from your product and campaign goals. With the willingness to listen and the power to communicate clearly, high conversion rates are never far away.
Anyone who gets involved in Social Media Marketing will surely find themselves pulling many strings at the same time. Assessing and understanding the campaign environment through pre-immersion research and learning is imperative. Although the marketing process may seem similar to the real world, the online social experience involves mastering each stage with even more precision, because you can never see or analyze behaviors in real time, except what the prospect writes behind his monitor, must be true or false. A social media marketing strategy is simply the result of the conjunction of human skills and web tools that enable social interaction, sharing, and sharing for the benefit of a brand. It is a two-way traffic for which the seller has the obligation in situ to be a psychologist, sociologist or ethnologist. Rest assured, he doesn’t need to be like this because he is a human being who is supposedly used to human social codes in general.