Social Steve’s Approach – Three Social Marketing Fundamentals
The approach Social Steve takes for social media marketing is based upon three pillars. Content marketing, holistic social marketing, and meaningful social metrics become the bases for the recommended social strategy for each customized brand strategy, plan, and execution.
Content Marketing with Social Marketing
People are much more apt to share compelling content compared to brand information. Thus, brands need to concentrate on having compelling content that is shared by people … this is the approach to optimize brand sharing. While a content marketing methodology may not be explicit brand sharing, it is the most successful implementation of audience word-of-mouth marketing.
The relationship between brand content and social marketing is captured in the diagram below:
The brand is at the core of it all. A brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” American Marketing Association dictionary. Everything starts with the brand product or service and the identity built for that product/service. Brand marketers set the tone.
As we look for a target audience to socialize a brand, the brand must have value and distinction. Think about how you tell your friends about the places you go, the products you use, and the services that make your life simpler. If you have a strong product/service value, chances are they will be talked about in a positive light and recommended. If you have a weak offering, your shortcomings will be socialized. Social media cannot control your brand perception. Social media magnifies users’ experiences.
Once strong product distinction and branding have been developed, a content strategy is needed. Brands need to think like publishers. A publisher worries about producing content that people like and want to read or view. They create ways to make sure people come back and consume more. Brand content should address specific areas of interest for the target market and not necessarily talk about the brand or product/service. The topics covered should be tangentially related to brand offerings. If compelling content is produced on a regular basis, there is an opportunity to engage with the audience. Brands have the opportunity to stay top of mind to drive brand preference. This provides an added reason for people to share some aspect of the brand. Content sharing is part of everyday life and if the content that is shared is associated with the brand, that increases brand awareness and word of mouth marketing. Do not under estimate the importance of content as part of the marketing and social media strategies and plans.
Once there is a solid content foundation and plan, then we are ready to start thinking about social media marketing. Not before. Community managers can go out and engage in conversations relevant to the brand. It is extremely likely that there are conversations found that hit on an area covered in one of the content pieces. This presents the opportunity to refer someone to that piece.
When we have content, we can post references to them, tweet about them. This starts the sharing momentum. Do not be disillusioned at slow starts. It takes time to build a reputation for having valued content that people share and refer back to.
From a tactical perspective, make sure the content is easy to share. Consider social buttons and widgets incorporated on all communication and content.
As we start to see content getting shared, we will find specific people that actively share brand content pieces on a regular basis. These people represent potential brand advocates. Make sure they are reached out to … maybe as simple as saying thanks. They should be engaged with one on one. We want to learn more about things that matter to them. Advocates are not only the greatest ambassadors of brands, but they also help us shape the brand such that it is stronger and of greater value for your target audience.
Holistic Social Marketing
Case in point … if you are a brand that sells mountain bikes, where do you think there will be more conversations about mountain bikes? On your brand’s digital assets or in a multitude of other digital assets? Rhetorical question. Why wouldn’t you go to all the places that present opportunity for brand engagement with the target audience as opposed to solely expecting them to land on the brand’s digital assets? You must look for relevant conversations where they happen; engage there; and look to drive traffic back to the brand’s digital assets over time.
With this in mind, considered the holistic “A-Path” approach to social marketing as shown in the diagram below:
Social marketing looks to build deeper relationships between brand and target market. There are different levels of brand-target relationships. As a brand, first you want to get your targets’ Attention. Then you want them to be Attracted to you. As the targets are attracted to the brand, we want them to build Affinity for the brand. Once they start to build affinity for the brand, we want the target to literally opt-in to be part of the brand Audience. We then identify the power users of the audience and look to build brand Advocates.
In the beginning of this A-Path we work off of the brand’s assets (or the non-brand digital assets – the whole universe of digital conversations and mentions such as blog posts, other twitter accounts, etc.). We monitor the entire digital space for relevant conversations and engage with the consumer where the conversations are happening. We then refer these people to the brand’s digital assets and build Affinity by producing valuable (informative and entertaining) content. As we build Affinity, we offer opportunities to join the brand assets (follow, like, register). We then we identify the power users and engage one-on-one to build advocates.
Our distinct approach is not just to build brand digital assets and engage there, but work both non-brand and brand digital assets. We crowd source by going to the relevant conversations where they happen. In the beginning of this relationship building, there is more effective action on non-brand digital assets. Towards the later part of relationship building brand digital assets drive deeper relationships. The overlap execution and engagement of non-brand and brand digital assets happen in Affinity.
Thus, you not only need to build strategies for strong engagement and sharing of brand content on the brand’s social channels, but crowd source the target market to the brand’s digital assets as well.
Meaningful Social Metrics
As we examine the construct of social marketing relationships to change behavior and drive transactions as shown in the following diagram, notice “conversion” is not part of the social media activities.
Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy states “tee up” conversions. Social media is not a strong channel to promote a sale. (Yes, there are some examples where companies have done this successfully, but 95% of the time; social media should not be used for direct conversion.) Think of forming a social media strategy to increases Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. Social media provokes these behaviors and these behavior changes drive transactions.
Know what successful social marketing looks like. It means having a strategy and plan that consciously addresses how social marketing is used to measurably increase awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.
And this is exactly how we measure social marketing results. The Social Brand Index is a complicated algorithm that has four sub-index variables that measure – Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. Here are the inputs to the Social Action Index.
The parameters listed above are weighted in a proprietary algorithm.