Why does good marketing planning process go out the window when it comes to social media?
Picture the scenario: boss meets a friend whose business is having a positive effect on its target audience on Facebook. Next morning, boss comes in and says "we need to be on Facebook". No thought as to objectives, strategy or content. But Facebook it is. Ever heard of cart leading the horse? Tail wagging the dog?
Last time I looked, good marketing planning starts with research, situational analysis and setting objectives; not choosing the tactics. Too many organisations select the technologies without giving prior consideration to the people they are trying to address. So here’s a few considerations as you venture into social media and explore ways to engage your target audience.
Find out where your customers are online using online research methods. Identify your search keywords and then employ a little role play… Imagine you are your customer and navigate the web to find out where target prospects might land up when using your key search terms. Setting up Google Alerts will help to direct you to new content on trade or competitor websites, communities, social networks etc. Where are your customers online? What is their social influence? How do they behave? What social information do they rely on?
Once you know answers to the above and other related questions, you’ll be in a better position to decide what your online goals will be. Bear in mind, online is an active medium, not a passive one so objectives will be broadly around increasing engagement, deepening understanding. The digital toolset should be used to drive greater engagement which if mapped correctly will assist with navigating the online funnel, help to retain customers and significantly contribute to creating loyalty.
Try to go beyond the first three months. Imagine a scenario where you have been listening on Twitter and have loads of followers. What then? What do you want social media to achieve? How can you use social media to change customer behaviour? How can you use it to increase brand relevance or resonance? (a far better metric than measuring brand awareness). How can you use it to build social proof by creating customer advocates? The strategy is the collection of tools you’ll use over a longer period to start to deliver real business value.
What should we build? Now you get to the bit most companies start with. But you’ll arrive at this point with a far better knowledge and understanding as to why you are choosing a certain technology, what you are using it to achieve and what content will be most effective in engaging customer groups. You won’t waste time and resources focussed on building technologies only to find out it has been a waste of time because actually your customers are somewhere else. Finally, you’ll be the horse leading the cart and you’re boss won’t be wagging your tail!
To learn more follow me on Twitter @matthewking or to join one of my social media workshops email firstname.lastname@example.org
[POST strategy redacted from Groundswell]