TopRank Online Marketing
Lee Odden

Roadmap for Social Media Marketing Strategy

By Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

Central to the notion of effective social media participation is the ability to create, publish and share content. The sheer volume of information on the topic of social media marketing makes filtering and prioritizing what’s most important to a specific organization a challenging task.

There’s a lot of excitement from marketers and companies but not everyone is exactly sure how to go about it.

I think it’s important to focus on the key components of what it takes to deploy an effective social media strategy individually and as a whole. By understanding the social web as it relates to fundamental marketing principles, tactics, tools and best practices, you can create a framework or roadmap for the development of a working strategy.

Getting a Social Media Roadmap started involves a 30,000 foot view of what social media is: The technologies on the web and mobile that enable people to create, publish and share content as well as connect/communicate with others.  Brand control is in the hands (minds really) of consumers, not companies. So marketing on the social web means informing, educating and even entertaining those communities of people that care about the issues, problems, wants and needs met by your company.

When you’re new to any social situation, your best bet is to listen and learn about the dynamics of the community or group. Who are the influentials? What are the obvious rules and what are the hidden or unwritten rules?

While there are many sources of advice on how to approach a corporate social media effort, the minimum companies need to do is start listening to the social web NOW. Many will find a whole new world of conversation happening about their brands, products and even key staff. By listening to the conversations happening around them on the social web, organizations can learn what they need to know in order to take next steps.

Some companies decide to start listening right away as they develop their social media strategy and many rely on the learning that happens from listening to influence their strategy. Either way, (we recommend the latter) it’s important to invest in the tools and processes of data collection, monitoring, analysis and process for action/engagement.

As for building the framework for a social media strategy, I would suggest these 6 key considerations:

  • Audience – Listen and understand your audience and how they communicate/interact on the social web. What types of social networks, media sharing and assets do they engage? What are their goals for doing so?
  • Objectives – It’s important to consider both the goals of the company as well as the audience you’re trying to reach. Marketing on the social web is about giving to get. Knowing what your community wants is key in reaching your own organization’s goals because you’re going to give it to them.
  • Strategic Plan – What approach will you take to meet the needs and interests of your audience in order to meet your own?  Will you engage influencers, will you energize brand advocates or will you create demand by offering non-branded resources?
  • Tactics – What social media marketing tactics and corresponding technologies will you use to implement the plan?  Blogging, microblogging, social networks, video, forums, blogger relations and outreach. There are many to consider.
  • Tools – What specific tools will you use to efficiently monitor, communicate, create and promote social content? WordPress, Facebook or MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Again, there are many to consider.
  • Metrics – How will you measure success according to the objectives you’ve identified? What tools will you employ and at what point will you take benchmark measurements as well as interval measurements? Who will you report results to in the organization and will there be success metrics that you can share with the community you’re engaging?

Addressing these key issues by listening and learning as well as a commitment to publishing content and engaging communities all along the lines of a specific set of objectives will provide organizations a much clearer plan on social media marketing.  Approaching social media marketing tactically misses the point. There’s a much bigger picture to consider and longer term benefits for all from a strategic approach.

What processes have you followed to educate your organization on social media? What framework structures and paradigms for building a socil media strategy have been successful for you?

(Photo credit romainguy)

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