Successful Social Media – Start Off the Year Right

It is the beginning of the year and just about everyone has either provided their year-end wrap up and/or predictions for 2012. And yes, I provided the Social Steve “Lessons Learned in Social Media” (2011 wrap up) as I wanted to share with you the key information I’ve gained from my experience in the past year. But with regards to predictions for the coming year, I take a little different approach.

Here is the one thing you should think about … everyone is getting in the game. Everyone is going to do social media in 2012. If you thought there were too many channels on your cable TV package and a majority of them are junk, think about what the social space will look like between all the brands fighting for impressions and mindshare. How are you going to win over your targeted consumer/business? You better not just wing it!

Just this morning I was reading Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog and he had a post “Your 2012 Marketing Plan: Tell Me What to Do.” Mark was referring to an article by Mitch Joel where Joel took the position that there would be a number of new social trends flying in the face of the consumer. Schaefer’s position was that the consumers actually need less. My take is that there will be a plethora of messages, social engagement attempts and digital interactions as a whole, bombarding consumers. And while it might be best to have less, dream on. If you manage a brand, the reality is that you are in a dog fight for mindshare and attention. It is harder than ever to capture awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocates for your brand – unless you play it right and do the pre-design work (not play it to chance).

So my suggestion is that 2012 should be the year of ring in the old and ring in the new … a combination of getting back to marketing basics AND embracing the new digital marketing frontier.

But it has got to start with marketing basics. Having worked on the client side of marketing for a number of years and most recently on the agency side, I see two different, but similar approaches to the marketing basics. The first question from both client and agency perspective is how do brands win awareness, interest, mindshare, purchase decision, loyalty, and word of mouth referrals? If you are not thinking marketing stages and planning before you start social media, I guarantee you will be another example of failed social media. And there will be more cases of failures than successes. Still want to just do it?

The client side approach usually starts with a marketing plan. I wrote about this methodology three years ago when I started blogging, and it bares greater importance today. At a high-level here are your steps:

1) Define your target segmentation – who your product/service is aimed at serving and the demographics and psycho-demographics of each segment.
2) State the brand value proposition – the “compelling reason to buy” for the defined target market segments sought.
3) Articulate a position statement (for internal use only).

For ………………. [target customer]
Who ………………. [key qualifier - form]
Our product is a …… [product category]
That provides ……… [key benefit]
Unlike ……………. [main competitor]
Our product ……….. [key point of differentiation]

4) Set goals – what are you attempting to accomplish through the initiative?
5) Define the target audience you want to talk to. This is likely a subset of the target segmentation. Focus on influencers.
6) State the target audience perceptions honestly – whether they are positive, negative, and/or unaware of the brand.
7) Describe want the marketing offering is (promotion, awareness, lead generation, advocacy program, etc.)
8) Have a call to action – what is the next step you want your audience to do – be careful not to sell too quickly and rather do something appropriately in line with the relationship level established.
9) Define message strategy and channels to be used.

The agency side approach is to form a “Creative Brief.” A creative brief is a document used to develop visual design, copy, advertising, web sites, and yes – social media. The creative brief, consists of a series of simple questions asked and answered to yield the guiding post for the development of the creative deliverable. (source – wikipedia.org) Your social media strategy, plan, and implementation must be creative. Otherwise, you are the equivalent of another lame channel on the cable TV package that no one is going to tune in to.
There are numerous examples of creative brief templates available on the Internet (One example is here.) At MediaWhiz, we use our own proprietary template, but the main gist is:

- To understand the business problem or value proposition
– State objectives of the marketing program
– Define the target audience and psycho-demographics
– Articulate the perceptions of the target audience
– State and understand the competition’s approach
– Define a message strategy (what is the one thing to tell the audience)
– State mandatory elements and deliverables
– Establish timeline, budget, and approvals

As you can see, the two approaches are very similar. But the most important thing is to recognize that there is much pre-work to be done. This prerequisite effort is likely to define the difference between failure and success … The difference between grabbing attention or being yet another organization that simply has a Facebook page and Twitter account up and wonders what the value of social media is.

Social media is an EXTENSION of your marketing. Social media is an EXTENSION of your customer service. Social media is an EXTENSION of your business. So plan and implement accordingly.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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8 Comments

Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, marketing, marketing plan, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

8 responses to “Successful Social Media – Start Off the Year Right

  1. Steve, I agree with your strong suggestion to plan and set goals. These may be discussed in a future post but I am curious about two items. First, where and when do you believe the marketer should select his/her tools. If the marketer plans on something extremely creative or unique, it’s possible that there could be significant cost and/or time to get the appropriate tools in place. Second, what happens next? How does success (or lack of success, or partial success) affect the marketer’s enterprise going forward?

    jeff

    • Selecting tools should be part of the budgeting process. You set objectives and then select supporting services, tools, products, etc within budget. What happens next – after the social efforts are kicked off – MEASURE. make sure you measure. Tweak you plan and execution based on measured results.

      Best,
      Steve

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Too many people get caught up into thinking (or are incorrectly ‘educated’ by people who don’t know what they are talking about) that social media is all you need when marketing a business. Unfortunately, it is really only effective when used as ONE component of an overall marketing strategy that involves many different facets. Without a good foundation social media will get you nowhere.

  3. great post Steve! I couldnt agree more, and I also think we’ll see more return to fundemental marketing principles this year. My kids are the same with some of the toys they have had this Christmas, now the novelty has worn off, they are learning how to use what they have properly, to make sure they get maximum value from it (my words, not theirs!)

  4. Thanks Damian – I like that … learn how to use your toys properly.

    Best,
    Steve

  5. I read this quote from Scott Stratten “Social media doesn’t make a business bad or good, it amplifies what they already are”. This ties in exactly with you say about social being an extension of the company. Because of this a lot of heavy and strategic pre-work needs to be done before companies launch social media campaigns. If you don’t have a plan it’s not a question of IF you will fail but of when.

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