Brands in 2013 utilize social media for a wide array of objectives – loyalty, awareness, sales, community, web traffic, share of voice, influence, engagement, and beyond. The list goes on and on. What for the most part was a pool of companies and brands just a few years ago jumping on the social bandwagon because they felt like they had to, or because it was the new, cool thing… is now a full blown discipline that directly marries marketing and public relations.
The phrase “social media strategy” in 2009, for example, was very different compared to now. Simply having a presence on different platforms back then might have been sufficient for many brands. Today, the branded social media world is very sophisticated, and correlating strategies should follow suit. This is why social media strategies need to stem from real, tangible business goals.
All too often brands will look at their social platforms first, and try to force a campaign or an idea against the channel. They’ll look at Facebook, for example, and think, “What is a cool idea we can cook up that will be really great on Facebook?”
What’s the problem here? Are you creating this just to look cool or is there a business need that social is supplementing and helping to drive?
As a social media manager, or someone that works within social communities for a brand on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose sight of why you have these social channels for your brand in the first place. It’s your job to be amazing and to “break through the clutter” with social media campaigns and ideas. And, if you attack a campaign by thinking of the channel or the idea as a first step you still might come up with something really cool. But, is just having really cool things why your brand is on social media?
Take a second to think about the brand. The company. These social media channels are extensions of that brand and direct connections to real people. This is literally your brand in real-time. Don’t forget about the business. All social media strategies should always have that as top of mind and step number one.
Let’s say your company has a specific goal for Q4 this year. That goal could be revenue. Or maybe it’s customer activations or booked room nights. Whatever it is – it’s a real goal for the business to be measured against. There are public relations channels, possibly more traditional marketing initiatives + a digital advertising component, sales objectives, maybe there’s a big event, and social media is one of these arms of the company to help reach that goal. Once you have that business goal at the top of the strategic hierarchy, then you can start digging into details of how social media can play a role for the business. Dig into the data, determine distribution methods, which social platforms make sense; now you can start pumping out your brilliant ideas.
And once you have your earth-shattering, break-through-the-clutter concept, don’t forget to set measurable goals for your social media campaign. Determine what your specific social ROI looks like as it relates to the overall business goal. Measure, analyze, optimize. Win.
This doesn’t mean that all social media campaigns need to tie directly back to revenue or the exact results that the overall business is trying to achieve. No, that’s not necessarily true. It can be, but definitely not always. Again, social media is one arm of the brand. The social media objective could be to drive people to a landing page that in-turn presents a revenue-generating opportunity for the brand and builds overall brand awareness. It could be the virality of the social campaign, getting people to “spread the word” amongst their friends and followers, or creating a movement. It could be a photo campaign inspiring dreams one image a time – connecting fans to your brand on an emotional level. Users typically are not surfing around Facebook to buy things, but they might be inspired to act later or engaged to participate, or share a story.
Great social media campaigns are so engaging, entertaining, or inspiring that the user is relatively shielded from that behind-the-scenes business goal, and they play along. Keep that over-arching goal in mind as a first step when crafting a social media campaign or strategy and understand that social is a player in that solution, not the other way around.
It all comes down to this simple question: if what you’re doing on social media as a brand is ultimately doing nothing for the business, then what are you really doing?