Companies must create a plan for the strategic use of social media for the same reason they must have a business plan. The outcome that results from developing a strategy serves as a map for the organization’s methodology for using social media for the needs of companies and their customers.
A company without a documented strategy for its social media marketing is like a catamaran without a rudder. No wind blows in favor of a ship without a destination. Strong gusts of wind that fill the sails are of no benefit to the vessel without charts or rudders. The same holds true for companies that don’t have clearly defined plans. They set sail with social media and get straight to tactics without a strategy and are surprised when they’ve run ashore.
In my experience, the issue stems from the way members of the C-Suite are at odds about social media as a whole and their uncertainty regarding whether social media marketing delivers any value. Executives understand they need to be innovative but don’t want to crash into an iceberg in the process. Some of them want to adopt a new approach, but they fret over their perception of risks associated with uncharted waters. Companies’ captains would like to act quickly and be adaptive, but they won’t give up the helm to people who can steer the ship.
Creating a Social Media Marketing Strategy Is Vital
Social media marketing is not a magic potion. It’s a very necessary component of the marketing mix. Just like all the other components in the marketing mix, strategies must always come before tactics. When creating a social media marketing strategy, companies need to come to terms with a very straightforward concept: the objective is to effectively use social media marketing to help your business thrive. Companies often struggle with developing a strategic plan for social media; the process becomes laborious and the plan is muddled.
Social Media Marketing Strategies Must Be Aligned With Business Objectives
Aligning social media marketing with companies’ strategies draws the necessary conspicuous connection between business goals and the processes required to achieve those goals. The development of a business-aligned social media marketing strategy development needs to start with the identification of the goals that propel the company’s planning and operational undertakings.
While in line with business objectives, social media marketing strategies also need to be unambiguous, pragmatic, achievable, and have a definite time frame attached to each of them. The strategy should make it crystal clear how all social media marketing initiatives will specifically assist or are directly connected to defined business objectives.
Examples of Social Media Marketing Goals
- Promote an event.
- Generate more leads.
- Double the number of people who opt to receive newsletters via e-mail.
- Request charitable donations for disaster relief efforts.
- Drive more traffic to a specific landing page on your website.
- Solicit photos and/or videos taken at an experiential marketing event.
- Publicize information about new offerings.
Along with selecting and prioritizing the key social media marketing goals, determine which corresponding metrics will be used to ascertain whether the company successfully achieves the goals. Many companies do not measure the results of their social media marketing efforts---this is a mistake!
Attribution Needs to Be Part of the Strategy
Measuring social media investments and the effect on revenue can be achieved by tracking multiple touch points made by consumers who become fans and followers. Tracking all consumers' touch points during their journey allows companies to attribute where conversions occur and what social media content or offers led to various conversions. The thorough scrutiny of analytics provides a representation of how social media marketing initiatives impact revenue and provide valuable insight.
Metrics to measure regarding social media content include the number of conversions, conversion rates through along consumer’s journey, revenue per conversion, and total revenue generated by each social media marketing initiative. Those KPIs are important to companies of all sizes and can be measured to granular levels. It’s important to focus on the KPIs and measure what matters to your company.
Focusing on the most pertinent matters will help keep you on track. Define the strategies for calls to action. Carefully monitor which offers are working well and leading to conversions. Make effective use of different landing pages tailored to the specific link an individual clicked to arrive on your website, so the messaging, call to action, and offer are extremely relevant. There’s no limit to the number of unique landing pages with varying content that may be required; relevance is the key.
A key component of the strategy will be the determining the methods to characterize ongoing small victories during social media marketing campaigns.
Victories may be characterized as...
- Increases in the number of retweets on Twitter.
- Increases in the number of new leads generated for the sales team.
- Increases in the amount of earned and shared media.
- Increases in the number of new visitors, page views, and time spent on the company website.
- Increases in positive comments on blog posts.
- Increases in downloads of an informative white paper.
Your organizations’ small wins should be tied to business objectives and specific social media marketing initiatives via the metrics identified. And companies need to implement frameworks that link social media marketing efforts to business KPIs.
If you're serious about your company’s social ship coming in, be certain your social marketing heading is set for strategy.