Where to start?
Social media marketing has a false reputation. For many commercial department executives, this exercise is summed up in a series of random and occasional social media check-ins, multimedia, article posts, and Facebook and Twitter ads. 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 all 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 approach, so to speak Social, to the goals. The same rules apply but with more or less variations. Evaluating the prerogatives, the context, the environment and the toolsets is the essential starting point of any Social Media Marketing campaign. It involves painstaking configuration 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 items before getting involved in Social Media Marketing:
- Define your base strategy. Set up a budgeted roadmap with intermediate white stones that will help fine-tune the campaign along the way. Social Media Marketing is never an innocent act. It is time consuming and you will incur expenses. Being precise about the campaign will definitely lessen the load. As previously stated, 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 limited in time. 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! You certainly don’t want to jump into dark water without basic precautions and headlamps. You too with your social media marketing campaign. Recklessly diving into social media can mean a TOTAL MESS, especially when it comes to building product awareness and reputation. Building an effective Online Social Strategy implies a deep knowledge of what competitors do on common platforms (of course)… but above all, having a humble preview of how others from different sectors have done it or are doing it. Enter successful and failed case studies. Learn more about the technical potentials of each and every social network and platform.
- Identify these platforms and toolsets that are relevant and responsive to your roadmap. Social Media Marketing is all about delivering the same consistent message across the entire spectrum of interlocking social networks. The interlocking winning triumvirate consists of the Blog, Facebook, and Twitter, to which you’d add a YouTube account if you wanted to regularly upload videos. Choose strategically. For example, you might feel the need for Slideshare and LinkedIn accounts rather than a Foursquare one, if your product or service is more B2B-intensive in tone. Your toolkit should also be comprised of listening and monitoring products.
- Realistically budget and size your online advertising. Use the full power of the Google AdSense and Facebook advertising platforms, but be sure to target smartly. Targeted marketing campaigns mean nothing without the right advertising. Intuitive online advertising can now be accessed with just a few clicks and will definitely unleash your power to communicate about your brand globally. They can also improve spread to limited areas. Think about identifying and evaluating your goals in geographic terms. This will help optimize your online advertising budget. Choosing PPC or CPC is up to you according to the basic requirements of your roadmap.
- Establish a social media task force within your staff and find an outside person to operate as 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 on their own, especially if other primary company duties are at stake. Instead, invite a few of your staff to participate in social media on behalf of your company. Be picky! Those who indulge in such a sensitive and interactive task must be good writers, tactful, creative, and loyal. External Community Managers are rarely biased and are limited to the sole responsibility of consolidating the activities of their working group on the relevant social networks. In either case, you need to build a team whose primary goals and capabilities are listening, learning, and responding tactfully.
- Prefer influential relationships. Have your team identify the top bloggers and social media activists that are in your interest zones 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 directly into a sea of opportunities from 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 proportionally 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 rating these comments helps fine-tune your 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 appropriately 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 boot 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 relevant, quality content when posting articles, media, and comments. Praising your 270-hp red 1974 Corvette when advocating for green products on your blog isn’t the best of strategies. Be sure to establish editorial rules that will define the production of consistent cross-platform content 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? How long should an article be? Should an article contain a generic common byline for multiple authors or should it carry the actual author’s name and for what reason? 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 all about… Socializing 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. Simple 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. It is imperative to assess and understand the campaign environment through research and pre-dive learning. While 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 behavior in real time except what the prospect is typing behind their monitor, whether 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 that because he’s a human who’s supposedly used to human social codes in general.