Social media is moving mainstream in companies. No doubt part of the reason for this is the tremendous explosion in social media numbers and the ubiquity of social media access now facilitated by the burgeoning number of people with smartphones.
Another probable reason is that many companies may view social media as a marketing tactic that requires minimal financial investment when compared to more traditional marketing approaches. Although social strategies may seem like a low-cost tactic that invites experimentation, this is a dangerous assumption.
Social media, executed improperly, can be detrimental to a brand. In addition, if a social strategy is to be applied effectively, it requires the same degree of thinking, planning, and competence that would be afforded to other communication strategies.
Similar to most other marketing tactics, social media also benefits greatly from a process of measurement to provide validation for the resources it employs, and to reveal insights on how to continually improve the process. In light of this, it is disconcerting to see a sneak peek of an upcoming study/report that states less than 15 percent of companies regularly measure their return on investment for social media.
This same report also reveals many companies have low confidence in social media. Well that’s not surprising! How can you be confident in something when you are not measuring its effectiveness? Today’s businesses are highly invested in their futures – controlling costs, and measuring targeted results. How does social media so often escape those parameters?
Companies need to view social marketing in a new light to achieve maximum results. More companies should be thinking of a social strategy in terms of what it is (social content) rather than how it is delivered (social media). In this context, social strategy becomes an important channel in an overall content strategy that may include many more tactics such as: blogs, white papers, text, videos, podcasts, mobile content, photos, print collateral, and yes, social content.
Prior to executing a content strategy – including social content – there are several questions that must be answered. The first and probably most critical is: what business objectives are you trying to achieve? It may sound obvious, but there are many companies who do not consider this aspect before they dive into the social content and media pool. If you cannot tie the strategy and tactics back to one of your key objectives, you should re-evaluate its use.
Other key questions might include:
- Who is going to monitor/listen to your customers?
- Where are your customers?
- What social media channels are you going to use and why?
- What content is relevant to your customers and which content is just extra noise?
- Who is going to produce the content (at least company-owned content)?
- What protocols are in place to determine the type of content that is relevant?
- Who is going to manage the content?
- How is all of your content going to work together?
- Who or what will determine the life cycle of the content?
- How are you going to measure your content’s contribution to ROI?
Those seeking targeted results need to ask the right questions first. With a sound content strategy in place to power your social and other marketing strategies, success is the likely outcome – along with the measured results to prove it.