Start with the goals instead of the tools, and the path for social becomes simple
In early May, Business Insider republished a graphic by Buddy Media that shows a smattering of logos for just about every social media platform, tool, analytics vendor, and related software or service provider in the digital world, framed with the headline, “This INSANE Graphic Shows How Ludicrously Complicated Social Media Marketing Is Now.”
The collage is intimidating at first glance, sure. But is social marketing, as an approach and practice, really that complicated? Does the glut of social platforms and tools result in a chaotic scramble for engagement and click-throughs wherever we can scramble for them?
We don’t think so.
A successful social media marketing program is achievable if you understand the nature of social media as a risk reduction behavior. From a social marketing perspective, your social program should enable your customers to make better purchasing decisions. It’s all about setting realistic expectations for your social marketing ROI and then implementing a solid strategy that can be deployed programmatically over time.
Let’s take a look at two of the basic principles of social marketing; these building blocks are the foundation for a social media program that returns solid results.
We’re all familiar with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Just about everything we do is measured against a set of KPIs, and it should be no different for social marketing. A social media strategy can’t reach goals and objectives without a quality set of social media KPIs—performance metrics that typically match one or more stages in the customer lifecycle, such as acquisition, awareness, engagement and loyalty/advocacy. The trick is to align your goals to corporate goals and objectives, like growing revenue, increasing customer service response times, customer satisfaction, loyalty and so on; and to do so in a measurable way.
Striving to increase fans and followers is a valid objective (i.e. boosting the number of people who opt in to your published content), but it’s not a performance indicator that measures conversion or engagement…and those metrics matter more than fans/followers.
Identify Decision-Making Behavior
When this step is overlooked, a marketer may well be overwhelmed with the inundation of platforms, solution providers and tools available to maximize social media reach and insight. Before a single tactic is added to a plan, marketers need to take time to understand how audiences are searching for, learning about, discussing, and choosing to consider and buy their products.
- Who are your unique segments?
- Where do they go to learn about and discuss your brands?
- Who are the people online who influence a prospect’s purchasing decision?
- What content is most meaningful and helpful at each stage of the customer lifecycle, and how do they (the customers) prefer to consume the content?
These questions and more need to be answered first.
These questions—questions we ask our clients as part of the r2i planning and strategy development process—are critical to understanding how your audience behaves in a networked market, and the answers help define the social platforms and tactics that are right for your social program. If your audience isn’t on Facebook, is it worth chasing them on the platform just because it’s the biggest social platform?
By taking time to understand your audience, you can do more with less—in the world of social marketing, a smart, streamlined approach yields higher success than the “throw-it-on-a-wall-and-see-what-sticks” approach.
In future blog posts, members of r2i’s social marketing team will drill down into our People, Places, Content strategy model, which I’ve loosely depicted above. This is a customized strategy process that we use to design strategy in a number of contexts, including product launches to long term social programs. We will also discuss our insights related to the nuances in social media tools as well as the role of your brand’s owned properties and social platforms and publishers.
Is there anything else you’d like me to address? If so, just let us know in the comments.