In order for companies to realize the maximum benefit and impact from social media marketing, the pre requisite for goal setting must be a certain level of understanding about the nature of online communities, social media sharing web sites and applications. Unrealistic expectations based on a lack of knowledge about the social web is far too expensive to ignore.
At Search Marketing conferences, you’ll hear a lot about driving website traffic and links through social media linkbait – a SEO tactic that is distinctly different than what goes into building customer relationships. Companies like Proctor & Gamble are paying for engagement, not eyeballs.
Companies that want to take full advantage of better customer engagement, online word of mouth and influence on sales should ask themselves a few key measurement and related questions while developing a social media strategy:
- What goals do you hope to achieve from a social media marketing effort? What does success REALLY look like short and long term? This is according to the segments or divisions of business affected, not just the organization as a whole. Customer service success is obviously very different than Marketing or Public Relations.
- Are web and social media synced? How will current web analytics and other digital performance reporting interact with social media marketing analysis?
- What measures of success (KPIs and Outcomes) will be used? How are you defining ROI?
- Is there a strategic plan for coordinating and measuring social media efforts across the organization? Will these efforts work synergistically? In silos?
- What are current measures? Is the business conducting a formal effort at monitoring social channels using a social media monitoring/analysis software application? (Ex: Alterian SM2, ScoutLabs, Sysomos, Vocus (TopRank Client), SocialRadar, Radian6) Are different business units using different monitoring tools? Are analysis staff allocated to making sense of the data and reporting?
- Where to start? Is there a particular business unit, division or product that can serve as a test case?
- What’s the current tactical mix? Assess current social media activities: How long has the company participated with social media sites and which? Blogging, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Wikis, Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. Identify your benchmark measurements with relevant channels.
- Is a dashboard and social media marketing management tool used for content promotion?
- Moving forward, what will it take to transition from fragmented efforts to something more coordinated? Which “hearts and minds” do you need to win over for support to make it happen?
- Is there an internal social media council or group tasked with assessing social media strategy and how will their role affect defining goals and ongoing performance reporting?
Every company, division, product/service and their customers are unique. The questions above can provide valuable insight into a company’s state of social media marketing readiness as well as provoking new thoughts and direction. The more informed companies are about planning for the social web, the more successful they will be.