Lee Odden

What is Your Social Media Marketing Strategy?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media
Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social Media Marketing Strategy

There are many reasons social media can be a productive marketing channel or platform. Rather than emplying it as a tactic du jour, the purpose should dictate strategy and the tactics used for reaching desired goals. A few common outcomes for social media marketing efforts include:

  • Gain insight into a community of interest -You can run all the customer surveys you want, but some of the most interesting and progressive market research can be found within the social communities where your customers interact, share information and make recommendations. Tapping into the streams of dialog is a great start to engagement and social participation with your brand.
  • Build brand visibility and authority – You’ve heard it before, “Conversations are happening online about your brand, with or without you.” You might as well participate and do so in a way that pays close attention to the interests and needs of your customers – providing them with information and interactions that further support your brand.
  • Influence and promotion of products/services – Providing information to educate customers about your products in the formats and media types they prefer can go a long way towards building the kind of buzz that results in new business. By promotion, I mean advertising on social media sites.
  • Link building for traffic and SEO – Creating linkbait and promoting it to social media news and bookmarking sites can attract a slew of links from bloggers that read them. However, sustaining high levels of promotion to the same site or with the same user accounts will quickly be outed as social media spam. Creating value for the community is not the only rule, creating value and behaving according to formal and unwritten rules is what sustains social media sourced link building.
  • Drive traffic for ad revenue models – Becoming a power user of several social communities involves consistently contributing quality content, rewarding those who vote positively on that content as well as growing a large base followers. That base of like-minded connections can serve as an effective distribution channel for unique and interesting content which drives traffic to ad supported blogs that host the content. The linkbait suggestion above not only attracts links, but also attracts traffic. However, many ad supported sites report that traffic from social media sites is notorious for not clicking on ads. It’s the bloggers that write about linkbait content first viewed on social media sites that drive the kind of traffic which results in ad clickthroughs.

The mechanisms for putting these strategies into action vary depending on the resources and time allocations a company can make on its own, or when working with an agency. In fact, it is most often due to internal resource constraints that companies outsource social media strategy and tactics in the first place.

Type in “social media marketing” into Google and you’ll get about as many search results (23 million) as there are social media tactics being promoted. As with any type of marketing, social media promotions center around matching content with interested audiences as well as stimulating conversation and buzz. Content can be created from scratch, mashed up or you can “borrow to build” by piggybacking on someone else’s social media success. The key is to listen and participate.

Speaking of social media tactics, I recently wrote/facilitated an article on social media marketing for Larry Chase on his famous Web Digest For Marketers newsletter and web site which includes social media tips from some of the most opinionated minds on the topic: Brian Solis, Neil Patel, Chris Winfield, Mike Moran, Rohit Bhargava, Jeremiah Owyang, Muhammad Saleem and Jason Falls.

Each of these social media experts provided tips of their own as well as resources from: Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li, Andy Hagans, Pete Cashmore, Chris Brogan, authors Huba/McConnell and Emanuel Rosen.

I am curious if Online Marketing Blog readers are finding that social media marketing tactics are getting included in strategic marketing discussions? Is social media getting singled out like SEO or PPC in budgets and forecasts?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar David Brown says

    First, Great post Lee – this is a great guideline for all involved in the Online Marketing arena…

    “I am curious if Online Marketing Blog readers are finding that social media marketing tactics are getting included in strategic marketing discussions? Is social media getting singled out like SEO or PPC in budgets and forecasts?”

    SMO is always a part of our overall SEO budgets – they haven’t been separated as of yet, however in the future I’m sure that it will be a ‘specialty’ service. The hard part is explaining to clients why this is a necessary part of doing business online… however all that have become a part of the conversation so far have been very surprised by the results!

  2. Social Media Marketing, or, in my case, Community Marketing, is definitely being included in Strategic Marketing at Bauer, and is also being readily embraced by 90% of the marketing, editorial, and even advertising teams I work with as Community Marketing Manager.

    Internal resource constraints will always be an issue until the available metrics and measures of ROI are readily accepted throughout an organisation, but I think it’s very important for internal involvement at all levels – even if the implementation and certainly the advice and guidance come from external sources.

  3. I like the idea of thinking about this strategy as a way to reach one’s desired goals, rather than a quick fix tactic to approach.

    In my experience some of the best ideas and results have come from gaining community insight (find out what they want and get engaged in the community).

  4. At Incisive Media (SES, SEW, ClickZ and other properties) we have added SMM to our strategy discussions. In fact we have actaully put budget behind the development of YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn channels/groups.

    The trick however is always add value. There is no point in doing any of this if there is no value in it – discounts, exclusive content, breaking news are all either part of our current plan or will we will be rolling out shortly…

  5. That’s great to hear Matt. No matter how much buzz there is on trendy tactics, budget and return value are what legitimize.

  6. “available metrics and measures of ROI are readily accepted throughout an organisation,”


    Thus far, based upon conversations we have had with the SMB community, people are not separating social media marketing from the more traditional online marketing tactics, such as the PPC & SEM above. I would think however, that having a dashboard which can unequivocally show the ROI case to key decision makers will eventually lead to it being a separate marketing line item. As with other performance based marketing efforts, presenting social media as a “lever” with consistently quantifiable results would go a long way.

  7. @William

    Thanks for posting some statistics on the LSE & HBR review. Do you happen to have a link? I’d definitely like to read through the study.

  8. Lee,
    Nice post and summary. Social media marketing or word of mouth marketing has been very much getting the attention needed and has been a separate marketing budget. Clients of ours from Wells Fargo, Sutter Home, Pleo and others understand the need for getting feedback from communities, to have 2 way conversations, and trying to influence consumers or prospects towards a brand.

    The stats that make many clients react and fund SMM/WOMM properly is that reducing negative WOM by 2% has the same effect as increasing positive WOM by 7% (according to London School of Economics and Harvard Business Review)

  9. This is an excellent, highly informing article! Social media marketing continues to grow in popularity and you bring up some excellent points regarding how to effectively utilize it!

    Keep up the good work!

    P.S. I too would be interested in a link to the stats…

  10. Avatar damselseo says

    Great post here on Social media Strategy. For me, I would consider social media in one of my link building strategy.It’s a great way to drive traffic and also one way links. But in submitting your content to social sites, it must be worth reading for and interest everybody so it may not appear self promotional.But if you have a good and catchy article,eventually someone will submit your site and vote for it.

  11. I am contacting you through this contact form as there was no email address available. We would be interested in purchasing advertising on your blog http://toprankblog.wpengine.com. Please get back to me using the email address I have entered if you would be interested in discussing this further.

  12. Avatar Jason Lewin says

    Great article. Social media is getting as much attention if not more than PPC and SEO. I think the insights you provided above justify social media’s attention from marketers.

    The difference between marketers paying for PPC and SEO to suggest to consumers products and services and marketers taking advantage of social media to have the users provide the same suggestion is obvious. The goal in the next few years will be how to capitalize on this valuable (and perhaps volatile) force.

  13. Hi Lee

    Social media is certainly on the top of mind of some of the companies that I meet. I had a meeting last week with one to plan for 2008-2009 and the client wanted to make sure that social media was included in their online strategy.


  14. I just got hired as the Social Media Expert at my new Marketing Firm and also Have a consulting business attached to MTVNetworks revolving around my expertise in Social Media and Computer Mediated Communicatino, Org/Social Network Analysis, Information Foraging Theory, Discovery and all the other Finer Points involved in Social Media from the theoretical perspective. The idea that communication exists in a format where a lack of context creates dimensions of communication that do not normally exist in regular physical avenues allows for a more predictive pattern in communicative behavior between persons. The identification of personality types becomes easier and with the application of the new “Active Management” Strategies regarding things similar to social graphs the use and manipulation of Social Media will only increase exponentially among the smarter businesses with a high level of foresight.

  15. That was such incredibly useful information! I have just started work as an SEO/article writer for a software company and I have trying to learn as much about this whole process as possible. This is my favorite bit of insight yet.


  16. Great breakdown of the avenues to explore with social media Lee. As a company we are only into the brand visibility and authority arena so far. As for clients, we actually have small businesses asking how to gain leverage in SM. One is even a community bank. To me … that shows the reach SM has come to.

  17. Mark, Arpan,
    Here are some links to the study and articles from the study on different sites:
    London School of Economics Article about the Study:
    The actual study:

    I know HBR wrote a story or did another study with LSE, but can’t find the URL, sorry. Here is an HBR Article on “How Valuable is WOM” that I was able to find though:


  18. I commend you for the quality of your content. I would like to see more detailed information on the particulars of social networking and marketing, like the turn around time. Perhaps, with this information, an individual can establish more realistic objectives with functional outcomes.

  19. Personally i think that marketing through SMM is very important its the new ‘word of mouth’. Building a fan base, or community thats interested in you product and then use this as an outsource.

    I recently read about ‘Social Capital’ in relation to Search Media Marketing, on a friends blog.


  20. Hey Lee-

    First just let me say that this is a great post. I currently work for a small SEO company and was recently named the “social media/marketing” person. Even small businesses are realizing the value in social media and are beginning to implement social media marketing strategies into their goal planning sessions. Marketing isn’t about selling people/consumers something; it’s about building a connection with readers through shared ideas and understanding. What better way to do this than networking through various forms of social media? After all, sometimes it’s not so much about WHAT you know, but rather, WHO you know!

  21. William, those stats on WOM are very useful, thank you. I agree with Arpan, a link would be nice.

    RS2Crat – oh, that’s a clever name! And congrats on your new position.

    Congrats to you as well Janelle. WHO and WHAT are the 1-2 punch.

  22. I think there is a sizable struggle to your 4th point, “Link building for traffic and SEO.” When submitting this link bait to social media and bookmarking sites, you really need to know what that community feeds on. If you don’t know, you can submit all day long and never get more than 10 diggs, sphins, bumps, or whatever the flavor is. Once you figure out what makes that certain crowd tick, then you may end up with front page or hot topic posts. Good post. Thanks

  23. Thanks for the links William, much appreciated! Quick question for the group here – are you finding SMM being used as a lead generation tool? There’s a paragraph on Geoff Livingston’s blog about it being a very effective method for these purposes (lower cost per lead, higher conversion). Just wondering what your respective experiences have been in this regard.

  24. Thanks, that’s a really good summary on why social media marketing should be used. Without doubt one of the best benefits is link building – if you create a good presence on these sites it’s ideal for promoting link bait, which is especially useful if you haven’t got a popular blog.

    Social media marketing does seem to be becoming the next big online marketing channel.

  25. Avatar Graeme Davidson says

    Social network marketing is certainly something that I see more and more people getting interested in and it is great to see someone else getting the idea correct about what we should be using it for.
    We at Equator (http://www.eqtr.com) are kicking off a several new marketing avenues with our clients and use some of the above and more. It is definitely an exceptional tool for using and yes, it is being included in general digital marketing plans nowadays. We actively encourage this and have already produced fantastic results.
    It looks like 2008 is definitely going to be the year for not just talking about social network marketing, but actually acting on it. 2007 merely used it as a buzz words.
    It will be very interesting to see how the year pans out and who comes up with the most interesting methods, however, I believe that Equator are already a step or two ahead of others that haven’t realised how to utilise this medium in a more effective way.

  26. Great post, as usual. I’m in agreement, Social Media marketing needs to be thought of in the overall marketing strategy and not just a “quick fix” to an immediate need.

    Great information on why Social Media should be used too!

    Maria 🙂

  27. Avatar Indonesia Articles Online says

    Just want to say Hello from Indonesia

  28. Lee,

    Spot on; your five bullets are the same goals we’re driving towards in our ever expanding online strategy.

    To answer your last question – Yes, a social media category was added to our budget and the metrics measured. These initiatives should help us break through a critical level of effectively understanding, managing & communicating w/our guests & existing customers.

  29. Nick SEO, I agree that social marketing is the hottest topic as of recent. However, I do wonder how easy it will be to build a fan base when everyone else online is doing the same thing?

    Considering this, if one should chose to focus on social marketing as their source of online income, there is a great need for that individual to come up with something that is unique and original. Among millions, this is not an easy feat to accomplish.

  30. Hi Reginald,
    You raised a good question. The good news is that most companies already have a following that needs to be tapped on. Through the use of buzz analytics tools such as BuzzLogic, Radian6, TruCast, BuzzMetrics – most companies can really know if they currently have fans, identify fans of competing products, consumers that are talking about a brand/product/service and then initiate dialogue with them.
    Developing word of mouth doesn’t necessarily mean you need to develop cool, new ideas, promotions, widgets all the time – by just initiating in two way dialogue with consumers, companies can forge much more impactful relationships – that will be a strong differentiator and a good use of social media

  31. Some point should be included in social media optimization

    Know how to target your audience

    Create content

    Create a SMO strategy

    Bookmarking and tagging

    Increase your linkability

    SMO should be a continuous process

  32. this is a great article…. brought yup a lot of good points regarding social marketing!

  33. Avatar Dailey Pike says

    My company created a social network site for Cedarlane Natural Foods.


    I’d be interested in any comments suggestions anyone would have for improving it.

  34. Great post about the “theory” of SMM. Now, how about some practical application? How do I choose between the hundreds (and constantly growing) number of SMM sites out there? Should I only add the majors or do I try to include them all? I’ve seen blogs that only have 2-3 SMM buttons and others that have a mind-numbing 15-20.

    Add to this a constant barrage of blogs on marketing sites with titles like “Why You Should Use (insert favorite SMM site here) to Market Your Blog.”

    How’s a newbie not going to get overwhelmed by it all?


  35. Lee;

    I just came across this post from March and wondered how I could cross paths with that article that you wrote/ facilitated on social media for Larry Chase. I can’t seem to find it on Larry’s site – probably in archive burial and without the title, I’m having trouble SERPing it.

    NOTE: Love your blog – it’s a daily/ weekly read. Keep up the great work.


  36. Thanks Lee. Really a Good Post.

    Social media optimization is all about building relationships with people online. If you feel comfortable with making online relationships then you can optimze your site well.

  37. Avatar Jeff Przybylski says

    There’s definitely a fine line between spamming and adding value to your community at a Social Networking site.

    I think it’s a continual process to get it all right, but asking your group of friends on these sites what they’d like to see or help they’d like to get goes a long way.

  38. this article very helpful… social media is important for blog optimization…

  39. This is a very interesting and useful post. I am still in the very early stages of IM and have noticed that just about everything I read includes SMM as an important element of the mix. What I find interesting is that companies are now hiring SMM specialists once again underlying the fact that one should not be a generalist in this industry (but should at least have a broad understanding and knowledge)…


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