Where to start?
Social Media Marketing has a phony reputation. For many an executive from the commercial department, this exercise sums up to a string of signups over several social networks randomly and from time to time, multimedia, article postings and advertising over Facebook and Twitter. This is definitely not the right shot!
SMM is more than just being present in the Social Media Sphere. It is a sharp commercial engagement that may just turn into total havoc if not handled properly. The goal of Social Marketing in cyberspace is the same as the real-world thing. It’s about delivering Unique Selling Points that will end up into concrete and sustained sales. It is about converting an anon into a brand advocate at best. Achieving this objective follows basically almost the same rules except for the fact that Social Media allows a closer, more personal and customizable, so to say Social approach of the targets. Same rules apply but with more or less variations. Assessing the prerogatives, context, environment and toolsets is the essential starting point of any Social Media Marketing campaign. It implies thorough setup and clinical precision in the way messages and attitudes are to be delivered through dedicated channels. Within such campaigns, posting on Facebook, on a fan page, group page or personal page is never the same process.
Here are 10 checklist points before engaging into Social Media Marketing:
- Define your base strategy. Setup a budgeted roadmap with intermediate white stones that will help at fine tuning the campaign all along the way.The roadmap should stay in tune with what is being done or what has been done in the real-world. Social Media Marketing is never an innocent act. It is time-consuming and will incur expenses. Being precise about the campaign will definitely decrease the burden. As said earlier assess the main objective and methodology. For example, you may need to totally revamp your actual website so as to allow SM integration and SMO. Make your campaign stay SMARRT – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Relevant and Time-bound. Either go for Awareness or Sales or Loyalty. One at a time! Don’t try to aim for all objectives in one go. Remember! Stick to your company’s marketing and communication policy.
- Assess and understand your campaign’s environment. RESEARCH and don’t stop til’ you get enough! One surely doesn’t want to jump into dark waters without basic precautions and headlamps. So do you with your Social Media Marketing Campaign. Diving recklessly into Social Media can spell TOTAL MESS especially when dealing with building awareness and product reputation. Building an effective Online Social Strategy implies thorough knowledge of the competitors’ doing’s on common platforms (of course)… but above all, take an humble preview of how others from different sectors have done or are doing. Get into both successful and failed case studies. Learn more about technical potentials of each and every Social Network and platform.
- Identify these platforms and toolsets that are relevant and positively responsive for your roadmap. Social Media Marketing is about delivering the same consistent message through the whole spectrum of interwoven Social Networks. The intertwined winning triumvirate is made of the Blog, Facebook and Twitter, to which you would add a YouTube account if you would have video clips uploaded on a regular basis. Choose strategically. For example, you might feel the need of Slideshare and LinkedIn accounts instead of a Foursquare one, if your product or service is more into pitch-intensive B2B. Your toolset should also be made up of listening and monitoring wares.
- Realistically budget and size your Online Advertising. Use the full potential of Google AdSense and Facebook’s advertising platforms, but make sure to target wisely. Goal-tied Marketing Campaigns mean nothing without proper advertising. Intuitive Online advertising is now accessible through a few clicks and will definitely unleash its power to communicate about your brand on a global basis. They can also enhance diffusion to limited zones. Think about identifying and assessing your targets on geographical grounds. This will help at optimizing your online advertisement budget. Choosing PPC or CPC is up to you accordingly to your basic roadmap requirements.
- Setup a Social Media taskforce from within your staff and look for an outsider to operate as a Community Manager. The web never sleeps. Social Media Marketing is a 24/7 perpetual roll-on. As such it is time and resource-consuming. One should never expect to be capable of handling a Social Media Marketing campaign alone, especially if other primary company duties are at stake. Instead, invite some of your staff to engage into social networking on your business’s behalf. Be choosy though! Those indulged in such a sensitive and interactive task must write well, be tactful, creative and loyal. Outsider Community Managers are seldom biased and are limited to the sole responsibility of consolidating your taskforce’s activities over relevant Social Networks. In any case you should build a team whose main goals and capabilities are to listen, learn and reply in tactful manner.
- Prefer influential relationships. Get your team to identify major Bloggers and mainstream Social Media activists who fringe with your zones of interest and industry. This task is one of the hinges of success for your campaign. Getting to talk to Social Media heavyweights is like hiring evangelists when relationships get entrusted. Getting Lady Gaga to like your pair of boots is like tapping straight into a sea of opportunities as wide as 9 million individuals who would just follow Gaga’s recommendations. Getting her to buy one would mean immediate success. CAREFUL however! The adverse effect is also proportionally as big as your contact’s notoriety. Be sure of what you sell to him or her. A successful Social Media Marketing campaign starts here.
- Identify relevant measuring and benchmarking tools. They are proof of your campaign’s success or need for fine tuning. For example, the increase in the number of likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter is an indicator of your campaign’s health. Getting to know how many times your brand is mentioned across the web and rating these comments help at fine tuning the campaign. You should also be able to keep track of your on-growing relationships and traffic that comes from Social Platforms. Identifying prospects for future opportunities helps at developing better strategies. Beware! At the actual state of affairs, Social Media Metrics can be tricky! In fact you will need a very wide array of results coupled to trending reports to be able to depict the exact snapshot of your on-going campaign.
- Identify offline components that will be needed to complement your Online Social Marketing. Offline events are powerful conversion tools when geared the proper and relevant way. Offline components may also mean socializing with people off the web, in the real world, offering real-world prizes and gifts, organizing rallies, bar camps, conferences and seminars… etc Determine how these components can enhance your target’s brand experience and how they will relevantly fit into your Online Marketing Scheme.
- Urge for quality relevant content when posting articles, multimedia and comments. Praising your 270hp 1974 red Corvette when you advocate for ecological products on your blog isn’t the best of strategies. Be sure to lay editorial rules that will define consistent cross-platform content production both in terms of easy-reading literature and technical specifics. Should an uploaded video be in HD both on YouTube and on Facebook? How long should be an article? Should an article contain a generic common byline for multiple authors or should it bear the actual author’s name and on what grounds? One should always define these lines accordingly to the targeted audience.
- Urge to stay HUMAN at every stage! Putting up a Social Media Marketing strategy is about building your brand’s Social Media presence where your quality accessible content will be delivering values of your organization. Social Media is about… Socializing first! People are touchy when it comes to attitudes and postures. They don’t like to bullied or taken as immature consumers. Being too techy, too commercial, demotes the social experience. Simple language and “real-worldlike” politeness are the bases for the best of approaches. It is sometimes more fruitful to start a discussion that may seem miles away from your product and its campaign objectives. With the will to listen and the power to communicate clearly, high conversion rates are never far ahead.
Whoever engages into Social Media Marketing is bound to find himself pulling on very many strings at the same time. Assessing, understanding the campaign’s environment through research and pre-dive learning is a must. Although the marketing process might seem similar to the real-world thing, the Online Social Experience entails mastering every stage with even more precision, because you can never see or analyze real-time behaviors, except for what the prospect writes from behind his monitor, should it be true or false. A Social Media Marketing Strategy is simply the result of the conjunction of human competences and webtools that allow social interaction, interchange and sharing to the profit of a brand. It is a two-way traffic by which the seller has an on-spot obligation of being a psychologist, sociologist or an ethnologist. Be reassured you do not need to be these actually because you’re a human being who is supposedly used to human social codes in general.
Alain Bertrand is a web professional and has been working in the Social Media sector for the past 3 years. He usually writes about his thoughts and views about Social Networks and related events. You can get in touch with him on Facebook: Alain Bertrand http://www.facebook.com/alain.bertrand.mu
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