A social media strategist creates a social media strategy to build a brand, develop products, provide support, recruit employees, communicate with existing employees and sell. Social media can be easily measured, so the only remaining question is how to best harness its power to provide all of the benefits. Social media integration can be successfully accomplished by leveraging a social media strategy example. Below is the content from a socia media plan that you can use to develop your own plan.
In order to build a pragmatic and actionable social media strategy plan, it’s a good idea to step back and understand social media’s impact on business, the organization, the eco-system, and the role of content, how to start, when to act and metrics.
By using the social media plan example, businesses can educate the target audience and present strategies, tactics and data in a graphically compelling manner.
Social Media Has Caused a Shift in the Balance of Power
In the not so distant past, companies dictated what, when and how they communicated with prospective buyers and customers. In some cases, companies required customers to call a phone number, fill out a form on the website, contact a sales representative or return an item to the dealer from which the item was purchased.
Today, individuals gather information on companies whenever they wish, from whomever they wish and whenever it is convenient for them. In B2B sales, research indicates that 80% of buyers have reviewed a vendor’s offering before a sales representative ever contacts them. In B2C markets, customers frequently learn from each other about a company’s offerings through product review sites, forums, opinion sites, friends, peers and those with similar interests on Facebook.
Today the buyer is firmly in control, and companies have been forced to adapt since a buyer can connect with the world for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and all year long.
From a Marketing & Sales Perspective:
- The company “to many” model has been reversed to the “many to” company model
- Segmentation has increased with the abundance of transactional and behavioral data
- The sales process has been turned upside down as customers typically have access to products, pricing and references or reviews before the sales process ever starts
- Social media empowers employees to communicate key messages to customers and prospects through numerous social platforms
- Social media is convenient (and typically a preferred method) of internal communications
- Social media is an effective channel for recruiting new employees
For Product Development:
- Social media transforms the serial and structured process of alpha and beta testing to an iterative and real-time process
- Social media allows more testing of smaller functionality sets with more users in shorter time frames
- Social media enables savvy companies to generate new product ideas from users
- Social media shatters the “one-size-fits-all” customer support model
- 7x24x365 support is available on the device users prefer (smartphone, tablet, laptop)
- The user community supports one another and leverages all mediums: text, screenshots, audio and video
Social Media’s Impact on Marketing
For the brand, social media forces consistency with actions and the brand promise. Otherwise, a company risks being called on the mat—in a public forum.
Social media increases privacy concerns with customer information, and fosters social responsibility such as green initiatives and labor laws.
Social media enables collaborative and two-way conversations between customers and companies.
Social media augments traditional transactional data by combining it with behavioral data in order to produce rich information.
With rich data, segmentation is brought to a new level – i.e. delivering the right customer experience by creating segments of one.
Social Media is Transformational
Social Media’s Impact on Market Research
- The cost of Information moves from high to low
- The time to execute shrinks from lengthy to immediate
- Sample size multiplies small to huge
- Geography is magnified from local to international
- Richness of data is broadened from transactional to behavioral
- Content that was updated occasionally can now be updated frequently
Increase Awareness and Generate Interest with Social Media
The Social Consumer
A premise of the social media strategist is that there are leaders and followers. However, when one drills down, there really aren’t that many true leaders.
Other People’s Networks
With Other People’s Networks, the concept is to leverage an individual and their relationships by getting them to bridge someone into their network.
Engage the Pack
Social media content encourages people to follow individuals with substantial influence over others based on their thought leadership or technical know-how.
The Social Buyer
A Sense of Urgency
Fear, uncertainty and doubt are still motivators in the world of social media. Communicating a special or “limited-time-only” offer or special price can minimize procrastination. Offers can be delivered in real-time with specific expirations.
When company evangelists create social media content that is interesting, engaging, topical or funny, individuals can connect with those evangelists and endorse their work.
Because people trust others like themselves, user reviews are the next best thing to first-hand experience. With social media, there are many established, credible forums that enjoy strong followings.
Other People’s Networks/Relationships
Appealing to Influencers
Influencers have significant followers and their social media content carries a lot of weight. Influencers also have tremendous powers of persuasion over their followers and can use their personal networks to make or break a company.
Pro-sumers are consumers/individuals with technical expertise in a firm’s product or service that ranks them as a peer to the company’s product experts. The focus of pro-sumers is purely on usage, and they communicate their experience (social media content) to the world through social media platforms.
Engage the Pack
In social media, the top down approach is to find the “Lead Dog”, win them over and then motivate them to evangelize on behalf of a company’s offerings.
This bottoms-up approach is based on strength in numbers. The key is to find individuals and motivate them to create a chain reaction of promoting a product or service within their personal network.
Social Media Marketing Engine
Social Media Content
Content is used to establish thought leadership and domain expertise, communicate hot topics and associate with influencers. It’s important to use short, pithy text with headers, bullets and, images in addition to leveraging all social mediums.
Individuals can grow a span of influence by:
- Hijacking conversations – a person jumps in when he or she can add value
- Publish or perish – continuously produce fresh content
- Scratching backs – build relationships with key influencers
- Profiling – create target profiles of customers and track them
Social media has created a sense of entitlement that content is free. Hence, offering a ten-question registration form with mandatory questions does not work. Providing abstracts, downloads, portions of presentations and content highlights should be offered with minimal contact information required —if a user sees value they will engage.
Prospects are researching a company well before they are contacted by anyone from Sales or Marketing. Usually a company will be disqualified before the company even becomes aware of the prospect. With prospects having access to content, product, influencers and customers, they are much more knowledgeable and more qualified when they do engage.
Leveraging Content with Social Media
It all starts with a piece of content. From there, the goal for the social media strategist is to develop a social media strategy that effectively utilizes the following social media outlets:
- Tweet the blog
- Post to a LinkedIn page, Google+
- Guest blog
- Post to Facebook
- Request other bloggers to blog
- Tweet the content to followers
- Re-tweet those with high Twitter grades
- Tweet to a number of groups of interest
- Tweet to @ based on other people’s influential followers
- Include a Twitter handle in an email signature and business card
- Post a deck to Slideshare with calls to action
- Tweet the content to followers
- Post on Facebook
- Post to LinkedIn and Google+
- Link to the deck in a blog
- Add the content to pages on the website
- Add the content or bundle it as a standalone digital asset like a PDF, e-book, etc.
- Offer the content as a gated asset
- Create a pay per click offer
- Record a voice over of the content, add an image and upload it to YouTube
- Post a podcast of the content to YouTube
- Post a comment
- Post an image from the content
- Launch a pay-per-click campaign
- Encourage friends to share comments with incentives
- Post to the company product page
- Share with groups
- Start a discussion
- Share with connections
Look for questions that relate to specific content and post that content as the response to the question.
- Post images of the content
- Create a board for the content
- Join group boards
The Complexity of Social Media Increases by Functional Area
The infrastructure requirements for strategy, structure, processes, systems, technology and people are most complex for:
Support – when responding to users requests regardless of the date or time of day.
Development – while soliciting the served market for insight into functions, features and user experience.
Human Resources – in responding to employment requests and seeking talent.
In contrast, the same infrastructure requirements are less complex for:
Sales – for prospecting and networking.
Marketing – for creating Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to push out press releases and promotions.
Challenges for Social Media
Developing a social media strategic plan does have its challenges for success, including:
Regulation for social media is still in its infancy.
There is an abundance of data – rich data that supplements transactional data – and it is unclear how to store, retrieve, synthesize, manage and act on the data.
There are no geographic, demographic, socioeconomic boundaries with social media.
The Danger of Emotion
Individuals may react based on emotion with a global communications platform at their finger tips.
Time frames shrink as information moves faster and there is less time to react with less information.
Where to Start
For the most bang-for-the buck quickly, a social media integration plan that focuses on executing programs for:
- Product specific blogs
- Discussion forums like Edmunds and LinkedIn
- Product ratings sites like Trip Advisor, opinions
- Social networking sites like Facebook
- Multimedia sites like YouTube and Vimeo
- Microblogging like Twitter
will be the best place to begin your efforts.
Social Media in the News
It always pays to be careful . . .
One of the biggest and most famous social media meltdowns was committed by Boston-based Chef Marc Orfaly, who went ballistic on an unhappy customer who posted her review of her Thanksgiving dinner at Orfaly’s restaurant, Pigalle, on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The diner wrote that her pumpkin pie “tasted like vomit.” Unfortunately, Orfaly went to the keyboard and replied, “You must enjoy vomit.” Most of what Orfaly then posted is not fit for print.
On October 29th, when Hurricane Sandy was gaining steam, Cambridge-based Hubspot posted “Five Hurricane Sandy Newsjacks from Marketers” about how marketers could insert their brands into storm coverage. Needless to say this was not exactly well-received, and the company apologized after a significant backlash on Twitter.
When to Act
Monitor, Research, Act
- If there is a causal relationship, say customer feedback followed by a sales decline, the rank would be high and the weight would be high.
- With categorization, if the topics and keywords are not important, then the rank and weight could both be low.
- In terms of a Klout Score, if an individual’s Klout Score is high then the rank would be high and the weight would be high.
- If the amplitude, loudness and trend are minimal then the rank and weight would both be low.
Social Media Metrics
Examine Referring Traffic
At a minimum, use Google Analytics to measure how much traffic is being referred to your website from the various social channels.
Review the Quality and Relevance of Content
Content is the fuel for the social media engine, but if it’s not relevant and useful, it’s a waste of time and effort.
For each piece of content created, it is important to monitor unique page views, time on page and total pages viewed. If the unique page views increase, that’s an indication that reach is growing. An increased time spent per page shows that content is engaging to the visitor, while an increase in total page views indicates visitors want to learn more by exploring more content on the site.
Look at Share of Voice
Share of voice refers to the number of conversations about a company versus the competition. The value of online customer and prospect interaction can be tied to the share of voice (SOV) metric.
The formula for calculating SOV is simple: divide the number of conversations or mentions of your brand by total number of conversations or mentions about other brands in the target market.
Track the Total Size of Community and Engagement
Measuring and tracking the size of communities is essential in determining whether the social media strategy is adding value. Using a social CRM tool is a great way to integrate customer data with social profiles and interactions while monitoring growth and engagement levels.
Sentiment analysis is imperfect at best as it often ignores the human element of sarcasm or simple context. For a completely accurate measurement, it is necessary to track sentiment manually.
Review any mentions and tag them as positive, neutral or negative. Measure, monitor and determine appropriate actions or inactions. Trends will appear over time, and awareness is the precursor to action.
In Summary – Social Media Strategist
A social media plan template will educate an audience and present the company’s strategy, tactics and data in a graphically compelling manner.
After a slow start, larger enterprises are aggressively embracing social media. Software to run corporate social networks is expected to top $6 billion by 2016, as forecast by Forrester, and the use of internal social networks is up 50% since 2008, according to a survey by McKinsey & Co.
It’s not a question of will or won’t a company need to embrace social media to be competitive, it is a question of when will companies create a social media strategic plan. Most successful social media efforts begin small and are focused on one function, i.e. sales, marketing, development, support, human resources, etc. Aligning the social media goals with that of the function they support creates a laser-like focus for the development of social media content.
Leverage a proven social media marketing planning template to build your strategy and guide your tactical execution by clicking here >>.