I’ve been a marketing executive for numerous years and I have often been required to produce quarterly business reviews. I think it is a good practice. At the end of the first quarter of 2011, I gave you the “Social Media – Quarterly Review, Q1 – 2011“. Given the close of Q2 2011 right around the corner, I have assessed many brands’ social media strategies and executions and defined what needs to be done in the second half of the year to yield winning measurable results.
1) Focus on a social culture as opposed to a social implementation.
Too many companies are stuck in a mindset of increasing fans, adding followers as opposed to really concentrating on engaging with their target audience. I guarantee you that if you focus on being a social culture that wants to hear from and engage with your market, you will drive overall greater success (and increase your fans and followers :) ). Check out “Forget Social Media – Let’s First Start with Social” if you want more on this topic.
2) Make social continuous.
Don’t think about social media as being a campaign. It needs to be a continuous endeavor. Relationships wander when engagement and conversations cease – in practical life and in business. Yes you can implement a social media campaign, but make that part of a continuous social practice – not a one time event.
3) Understand the C-Suite’s business objective. AND
4) Educate the C-Suite what social media success looks like.
As we sit here mid-year 2011, there is a definite “Social Gap between Practioners and Executives.” If we are to close this gap, it must first start with social media strategists understanding the executive team’s business objectives and being able to articulate, measure, and present the relationship of social activities to set goals. It starts there, but does not end there. You also must enlighten the C-Suite with regards to what they should expect and look for from social media.
Let me give you an example. In my experience, the executives I have worked with are obsessed with the number of fans and followers their brands have. While I know that is not a key performance indicator (KPI), by itself, I recognize this is what they are looking for, and therefore, must deliver to them. It is a matter of giving your (internal) client what they want. But I know it is important to track engagement so I produce a chart that shows the number of fans AND the number of interactions per fan – month-to-month. I explain that yes, we want to see monthly increases of fans, BUT as we increase the fans, the number of interactions/fans must at least stay level (if not increase). If we run a sweepstake to increase fans, we must also have a plan of how we keep the new fans engaged, execute against it and measure.
5) Implement a social media dashboard.
That which is not measured, does not get done. You must show KPIs. I suggest you show these on a 12-month sliding scale. The specific results of a given month are not important. The relative and trending results are. There can be monthly fluctuations due to seasonality, specific events (product introduction, worldly events), or specific content coverage. What is important is looking at a normalized trend line – a trend that is hopefully increasing. For a starter, you can look here and see a chart of suggested parameters to track that will satisfy executives and track what is important. They are classified as online traditional, social media traditional, and social media engagement considerations. Your dashboard should be used to assess what is working well and where adjustments in your strategy and execution need to be made.
6) Understand your target audience.
This must be emphasized ALL the time. We often look at our target audience when we start something, but once we get rolling are overcome by internal issues and perspectives. There is nothing more important than the user perspective and experience. For me, right now, this means understanding the influences of users (friends, experts, and trusted sources) as well as understanding user relationships and behaviors with digital channels and devices. If you nail these two areas, you will have a continuous winning roadmap, market push, and overall success.
7) Take calculated risks.
Taking calculated risks is the antithesis of following the pack. Take true leadership. Are you willing to try something that no one else has done? Are you aiming for extraordinary results or just coasting by? If we look at “10 Big Brand Lessons from the Corporate Social Media Summit“, none of these accomplishments were made without taking calculated risks. They did not have a playbook that stated do X and you get Y. It is up to you to evaluate, create a strategy, make a solid plan, measure and make adjustments in the face of some uncertainty. You must be bold.
So there you have it. But don’t leave it up to luck. Are you really committed to making social media work for you or are you just getting on the bandwagon because everyone is talking about it? I have been working on social media with a number of brands for four years now and I will tell you, without any exception, these seven MUST be done if you want to reap success.
Make It Happen!