Saturday, March 19, 2011

Social Media Marketing – How to Prepare a Plan that Keeps the Focus on Your Brand

Social media’s development as a marketing tool for business, has fundamentally changed the way businesses communicate to their consumers, customers, and within the industry.  This is not news to most executives.  But the pace of this change is surprising to many that have not truly had a close eye on this trend.  Marketing tools and media choices have always evolved, but this time the choices, and measurement are totally new ground to even the most seasoned marketing teams. 

Social sites grew up catering to the mobile phone carrying younger generation.  This “generational” gap soon closed and services such as Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc. are now mainstream.  But the social sites were not initially designed for business the way early television and radio broadcasting came about – those media,  hugely supported by a sponsored programming model. 

We are in new territory, with new capabilities, technologies and rules for engagement.  Many manufacturers and services are struggling with this development.  They do not have the technological know how, nor the consumer communication strategies to take advantage of this “open dialogue” , originally intended to occur amongst friends.

Utilizing this medium to simply take advantage of this new world is not always a good strategy. Building communities and fostering open dialogue, which is what social media is all about, takes a major commitment of time and messaging. While it is much less expensive to get into the discussions (in many cases free), it can end up adding very little to a brand activation program.  And quite honestly, the paid advertisement banner approach, while familiar, is not very engaging.

While there are thousands of experts and agencies to help you navigate the technology, for the strategic marketer, it comes down to a few simple rules.

  1. What does your Brand stand for - it is important to define the vision of the brand as well as its unique selling proposition (USP) that will define all communication.  
  2. What is your Consumer insight – important to understand the consumer insight that helps shape the need of the consumer and how your brand solves this need.  
  3. How does your target use Social Media – consumers are adding online and social media sites to their media consumption. Online and social media consumption is not replacing time spent with other media. Consumers are literally doing both with the rise of simultaneous viewing of TV, online and mobile technology. 
  4. What role should social media play in your mix of communication – based on an analysis if the time and energy your target devotes to social media, you MAY want to consider it as a part of your mix in accomplishing your goals.  Remember, social media means participating in a two way conversation – which involves discussions and searching out kindred spirits to build community. 
  5. Can you invest in building a presence – if in fact you choose to use social media, then you will need to begin to invest in the development of a community.  Lower in cost, yet much higher in terms of people commitment.  the best way to build a presence in in discussion, giveaways, tips, and discussions.
  6. Try new things  Test and Learn – it is relatively easy to try new things here.  The medium is fluid and the responses are rather immediate.  therefore, it is great to see what works and improve as you go.
  7. Track and Validate – Social media has different metrics than traditional media but this media is measurable.  As in any marketing plan, it is important to find the most meaningful measurements.  This is a medium that is measured in real-time so it is easy to course correct and see where the dialogue is going.

Many established companies have a profound skepticism regarding social media and its impact on sales results.  Smart marketers can champion this new media with case studies and in-market results that will keep healthy skepticism from turning negative.  As a marketer, embrace the new social media but remember that it is just another opportunity to delight your consumer target with your engagement to them as a brand.


Jim Matorin said...

Outside of understanding how your target audience utilizes social media, the check lits looks very familiar when it comes to branding. SM only will enhance things.

Bob Clark said...

Jim You are right. I think the point is that the basics of branding are more important than the technology. But it does take tome to build a community

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