Social marketing should not be an add-on to other marketing efforts. Far too often, marketers put together a promotion or other marketing program and then look to tag on social. As dictated by user behavior marketers need to think social first. So let’s run through the successful social marketing framework that marketers should follow.
When it comes to social marketing, you cannot just do it. You need to start with a strategy because “where you start often defines where you finish.” In order to develop a solid social marketing program you need to know your target audience and competition, and at the same time reinforce your brand position. Do research and capture key customer insights, especially as they relate to digital usage and behavior. Use social monitoring tools to listen to what the target audience is saying. Go to specific relevant blogs and search the vast digital world using applicable keywords to find the appropriate conversations. Conduct a social audit on your competition – where are they active; what are they saying; how is their audience responding? And certainly re-examine your brand position – what do you stand for; how do you differentiate from the competition; what is your current communication strategy? These four activities are the basis for a messaging and content strategy, engagement plan, and social channel plan for your social marketing strategy.
Once the social strategy is defined, core social marketing activities are ready to be performed, not before. Social marketing must start with content production. Develop a content calendar, but also be prepared to produce real-time content based upon current events and conditions. Content production should include articles, photos, videos, curated content, and user-generated content. Of course social marketing includes community management. Community management includes postings and engagement with members of the brands digital assets. But another core function of the social media manager is “off community management.” This is seeding conversations and engagement on non-brand digital assets on behalf of brand.
In addition to core social marketing functions as a starting point, there are a number of ongoing activities that are also required. Once content has been developed and published, social managers need to make sure appropriate steps are taken to optimizing user sharing. Besides attracting a core audience, look to identify influencers that will help rally awareness and interest in your brand. This process of influencer marketing produces positive word-of-mouth marketing and earned media. The social manager must also generate formal monthly reports on social metrics – comparisons to leading competition and Social Action Index which quantifies awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy trending. And then there is social gamification which is not “game playing.” It is a reward system that keeps the audience coming back and engaged. And finally you need to tie in social CRM (customer relationship management) which is a combination data collection to have linkage to other marketing efforts as well as customer social engagement.
The social marketing effort is a year round activity. Conversely, most marketing programs are for specific drive periods and then end. This fact coupled with user behavior are the two reasons why social marketing must be derived as its own top down effort. But that is not the end. Social must be connected to all the other drive period marketing efforts to have one cohesive marketing front for the audience. The social manager must be part of all market briefs and plans. Other marketing leaders outside of social marketing should expect the social leader to define how they are going to integrate the marketing programs into social.
The key difference in what I have defined is what comes first. There should be no chicken versus the egg confusion here. Social marketing must lead for customer awareness, engagement, and advocacy. Brands need to aim for continuous relationship building, not just during marketing drive periods. Yes, marketing programs provide the opportunity to heighten awareness, consideration, sales, loyalty, and advocacy, but the social light must burn eternally. Do you really want someone you trust, not to be there when you want to engage?
Make It Happen,