Five critical considerations to guide organisations in developing a social media strategy.
Virtually every organisation that interfaces with the public is being encouraged to integrate social media in their public relations, marketing or promotional activities. Some enthusiastically dive in, while others are more reticent and do as little as possible. Unfortunately and in the majority of instances, the results are the same: social media does not contribute significantly to the organisation’s key goals.
Although it is easy to lay the blame on a litany of factors, a critical one is frequently overlooked. Generally, an organisation’s approach to social media is not underpinned by a coherent strategy, but is merely a jumble of platforms/channels and activities with no clear goals in mind. Below are five critical considerations to guide organisations when developing a social media strategy.
1. Traditional marketing principles are still relevant
As one of the newer means of consumer engagement, there is a general perception that the rigours of traditional marketing and corporate strategy preparation are not applicable to social media. That is not the case. . In a nutshell, social media is a tool. It offers an organisation a broad range of channels through which to message and engage persons. Hence, it ought to be considered as a subset of an organisation’s overall marketing approach, which in turn should clearly aligned with agreed corporate imperatives.
2. Determine objectives and set goals
The objectives of social media for an organisation can be varied. As was explored in a talk we gave in 2012 on Social Media Trends on Caribbean Businesses, organisations are using social media as channels for, among other things: marketing and promotion; customer care and feedback; information dissemination; discussion forums. However, it is also important to establish goals. For example, for a sales-driven business, one of its goals might be to generate leads via inquiries received from social network followers, which in turn it nurtures to convert into customers.
It must be emphasised that the goals and objectives set should influence the content developed and the marketing campaigns that are implemented generally, not just for the organisation’s social media channels. There are likely to be opportunities to leverage the content across platforms, and to capitalise on different synergies to have greater impact and effectiveness.
3. Know your target audience
Although the number of followers your organisation has on particular social network is important, as it does speak to its sphere of influence, the characteristics of that audience ought to be considered, in order to be effective at achieving the goals envisaged. Hence it is vital to know the demographics and key characteristics of your firm’s target customers. This information could influence the social media channel used, but also content that is prepared and the campaigns that executed.
4. Some social media channels are better suited for certain results than others
Not all social media channels are made equal. Some, such as Facebook and Twitter, are better suited for engagement – to attract an audience or potential consumers – but in and of themselves, they will not necessarily result in customers. On the other hand, blogs, podcasts, video channels not only attract an audience, they tend to be better at converting them to consumers and customers. Hence based on the objectives and goals that have been established, and as part of its marketing strategy, the organisation ought to carefully consider the mix of traditional marketing and social media channels it needs, plus the cross-linkages that can occur.
5. Determine the metrics needed to track success
Too often, this component is not given the attention it deserves. However, it also ties back to the earlier point about setting objectives and goals, as it is only when those are clearly established that appropriate measures can be identified. Consistent with the traditional marketing practice of trying to determine the impact of a particular campaign, e.g. on sales, inquiries, interest, etc., metrics can also be instituted for the social media channels used, and the requisite systems implemented to capture the results.
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