Lee Odden

Roadmap for Social Media Marketing Strategy

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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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. Lee, great fundamental business points. These should be continually circulating inside your head along with S.W.O.T., ROI and revenue. Although the CEO standing behind you is probably yelling the same things. Because Social Media is fairly new in business measuring its success is a difficult proposition (especially considering the conversational nature of the medium).

  2. Great post. You should make this into a Slideshare presentation.

  3. Fantastic post Lee. “Marketing on the social web is about giving to get”. I love that quote…and I hope more people embrace that idea. Tweeting this post now…

  4. Thanks Andrei. It’s actually part of a presentation I’m giving today and tomorrow as part of the DMA Social Media Smarts workshop in NYC. Next on is March in Chicago. More info at http://socialmediasmarts.com

  5. With all the ‘bad news’ out there for small business and entrepreneurs, it seems a lot of people are overwhelmed when they consider initiatives to reach out to prospective and current customers, and social marketing is one of these overwhelm points. That said, it seems to be a new frontier with the most promise.

    Your post is an excellent example of distilling s social marketing strategy down to sizeable chunks.

    Looking forward to the next one.

  6. Avatar Bobbie Carlton says

    Drat — where were you yesterday when I was writing essentially the same thing up for a potential new client!?! I could have just turned in your blog as a proposal.

    But seriously, every marketing plan, social or otherwise, should be built on these fundamental items. They should be the foundation of EVERY marketing plan.

  7. Lee,
    Great ideas — I think I would add one to your six — “Assessment”, especially for companies that are not Web 2.0.

    Many companies from a broad range of industries have marketing activities, tactics and content that should be assessed to decide whether it can be leveraged in a Web 2.0 world.

    Take tech companies for example. Almost every one has some type of customer service forum. These are often database-driven knowledge centers as well as places to ask questions and receive hints, tips and service ideas. These may be easily (or not) converted into community sites where customers and companies can better connect and exchange.

    Many companies need this assessment FIRST in order to develop a social media strategy moving forward.
    Thanks for getting me thinking!

  8. Great post Lee!

    I’d add that it’s important to look at how any of your competitors have fared with their social media efforts. If I were Advil, I’d definitely pay attention to what went wrong with Motrin Moms. 😉

  9. Great article! Was wondering if it could also be useful to mention the importance of time on two dimensions: Social Media Marketing is a time consuming task; you need to give an answer ASAP or to deal with a problem ASAP.

  10. Thanks for sharing Lee. A good, underlying perspective on social media.

  11. Thank you for all the feedback on the post. It’s been great to be able to share the practical side of this info for our Social Media Smarts seminar.

  12. Useful and interesting article. Like Guillaume, would, also like to second the point about ‘time.’ The basic social media platforms: blogging, Twitter, social network sites, and so on, costs relatively little to be involved with. It is the time: listening, working out strategy, communicating, reading and becoming an expert, that is much more of the issue over finance ..

  13. Lee,
    Great post. Agree on all points. I would add podcasting to your list of tactics. Writing podcast show notes in a blog post is an effective tactic within the context of a sound social media strategy.

  14. Avatar Carol Gerges says

    Lee i am currently a university student studying Marketing, i just wanted to say that before reading your post i didn’t particularly understand the importance of social media marketing and online marketing, However after having read through your post i now realise that online marketing really is the core to market research and to getting efficient feedback from the consumers. This way not only does the company benefit, but the consumers are feeling more involved and they feel that their input counts. Its a two- way connection. I was really happy to see that you have placed a lot of emphasism on the audience and listening to their feedback… because without listening to them you wouldnt know what they require and what improvments to make.

    I just wantd to let you know you contributed to my learning so thanks 🙂

  15. Lee – great points here. We’ve recently written on a similar topic on our blog. The post is called “The Theory of Social Media Marketing Evolution.” You can check it out here

    In any case, it’s great to hear what others in the industry are saying. Keep up the good work!

  16. The old method of advertising is interactive marketing. The term is misleading. Most people think it means that there is some type of interaction on the part of the person advertised to, and there is. But, it is not conversational. Instead, the advertiser wants you to interact with their campaign in a specific set of steps. Following the call to action and visiting a website for instance. It’s the push to make you do something. Live this image. Buy this now.

    Social Media Marketing is just the opposite. It’s the pull of the tribe. The tribe already has your trust so the actions they take are ones you align with. On a larger scale, it’s the allure of belonging in the group as you take action together. “I am doing this so why don’t you do it with me?” On an individual level, the attraction is to behave the same way to get the same results that benefits your fellow tribeswoman or tribesman. “She looks hot! I want to look hot too. I want to go to her hairstylist” and you do. Social Media Marketing uses the power of attraction.

    While advertising tries to use the same tactic, with a billboard for instance, of a gorgeous woman telling you the benefits of the salon, it doesn’t have the same impact because it’s pushing you to go. It is not pulling you in as a trusted friend. Your friends have your best interests at heart and advertisers do not. Social Media Marketing is based on building trust and that foundation will make Social Media a dominant player in Marketing.


  1. Social Media Primer says:

    […] another good post about the Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing Strategy, see Lee Odden’s article of the same name on Top Rank […]

  2. […] Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing Strategy (TopRank Blog) […]