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Follow Your Social Media Road Map (or End Up Lost Like Clark Griswold)

by Guest Blogger  |  
March 20, 2012

A guest post by Kieran Flanagan of Salesforce.

Planning a social media campaign is a lot like planning a trip. You need to create a road map and stick with it to ensure an enjoyable journey.

And just like when mapping a vacation, you need to decide:

  • Where you are going---This is the objective of the social media campaign.

  • How you will get there---This determines which social media sites you will use and how you will use them.

  • How far you are going---Knowing what progress you make will require studying analytics data.

Planning Your Trip

Before you plan a road trip, you need to cover the basics. Do you know how to drive? Do you have the appropriate license and documentation to drive? Similarly, when beginning a social media campaign, you need to understand social media and have the necessary accounts set up for the platforms you want to use.

Now, you need to decide on your destination and create campaign objectives. You reach the campaign objective by setting targets. To increase brand awareness, for example, you might have the objective be: "Have more people talking about the company." Your targets could be an increase in traffic from social sites and a certain number of comments on your posts.

Once you have a destination, you need the right vehicle to get you there. For a social media campaign, you need to know which social platform is best suited to help you reach your targets. For example, Facebook can increase brand awareness and customer engagement, while Reddit is good for sending targeted traffic to your site. You can use market research to understand where your customers spend their time and to ensure you are using only the platforms that will directly reach them.

Now that you have chosen your vehicle, decide how to use it. You should have a social media policy in place to guide your employees’ social media activities. The policy guide should clearly state what employees are and aren't allowed to do, what the company's social media goals and objectives are, and the ways each profile should be used.

Finally, get a map. That is, you need set out content and social strategies to reach your goals. These strategies should include what kinds of things you will say, when you will say them, and to whom you will say them.

Hitting the Road

Get a driver (or several drivers). Build a team of dedicated, passionate employees to run the campaign. Give them direct access to department heads, so they can address problems quickly. But most importantly, let these folks get excited about the company and what you do. That will attract more followers and engagement than anything else.

As you travel along, you need to have a way of knowing how much progress you make. You can do this by looking at your Web analytics. Set up some advanced segments to create data that will show you how far you’ve come---and how far you have to go.

And don't forget to follow the rules of the road. For your social media campaign, you need to have processes in place to run the campaign. These rules ensure that your team knows what they should do in most circumstances.

Also, make sure to plan for an emergency. Having a social media contingency plan in place is crucial. You cannot control what people say about your brand. By having an emergency plan, your social media team will know how to handle an emergency quickly. Otherwise, the problem can grow into much bigger issue.

Improving the Drive

People always argue about the best way to get from Point A to Point B because they want to find the best way of getting somewhere. That spirit should apply to your social media campaign. When you run your campaign, use the analytics data you’ve pulled out and the experience you’ve gained to improve your activities. Don’t focus so much on sites that don’t help you reach your targets, and ramp up the kinds of activities that show the best returns. That way you’ll focus your energy on the platforms and audience that appreciate you the most.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: A Confused Funny Man)

Kieran Flanagan is the inbound marketing manager for EMEA at Salesforce, which has just launched its SocialSuccess site in the UK.

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  • by Tudor Davies Tue Mar 20, 2012 via blog

    Having the right vehicle is the most important part - for instance a pest control company is never going to succeed on pinterest, flickr or youtube.

  • by Jennifer Dutcher Mon Mar 26, 2012 via blog

    I would argue that social media is exactly the type of place where companies are encouraged to think outside the box. While you're right in saying that pest control companies may have difficulty promoting themselves or their services on pinterest or flickr, I would think they could be very successful on YouTube if they played their cards right. What about a series of How To videos? How to prevent X infestation, how to best prepare your house for X season, how to treat X problem once it's already happened, recommended products, etc... The nice thing about social media is that not all interactions have to be 'advertisements'; engaging with customers like this may do even more for your company's reputation and appeal.

    Jennifer Dutcher

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