A METHOD FOR MAPPING AN EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
Once you've understood the public's attitudes, recognised society's trends, and reconciled your concerns with the concerns of your audience, you're ready to begin building your social marketing plan.
There are six basic steps in the social marketing process. Although you've already covered some aspects in your preliminary thinking, it's important to use a methodical approach to ensure everything is covered thoroughly. Use your earlier thoughts as a guide to help you move through the various stages. Every step should be committed to paper for future reference:
Step 1 – Getting Started
Stop, look and listen – it’s the first step to an effective social marketing strategy. Profile your target audiences and their social characteristics. Monitor their dialogue and how preferred platforms are used. Benchmark brand popularity, share of voice and other qualitative and quantitative social metrics for your company and competitors. This is also an opportunity to assess your organisation's existing resources, communities and digital assets that may add value to your strategy.
Step 2 – Planning And Developing Your Strategy
Forget about soft objectives like “increasing awareness.” Achieving hard, measurable and targeted objectives is the only way to win over social marketing sceptics who control the budgets at your organisation. Segment, select and prioritise target audiences by social status. When possible, align objectives with metrics traceable to financial like ROI, cost-per-lead and sales conversions rather than qualitative measures such as sentiment. There are a variety of free tools (Google Analytics, Social Mention, etc..) and commercial analytical solutions for providing the quantitative tracking data required.
Step 3 – Develop Your Materials And Activities
Decide what your message will be. Then plan the media activities, special events and other promotions that will help communicate the message. It will also define your social marketing architecture – the pathways for connecting target audiences and conversations to content hubs, landing pages and conversion points.
Step 4 – Write Your Communications Plan
Once you have established targeted and measurable objectives, you will need to plot a course of action toward achieving the desired outcomes. This section will specify the social marketing tactics, implementation timetables, campaigns and best practices, roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, and budgets your strategy will require.
Step 5 – Implementing The Plan
An effective strategy is expected to outlive the brief lifespan of today’s popular social platforms. Therefore, to this point has been technology brand-agnostic. But now is the time to identify, assess and select the appropriate social platforms that effectively fit into your current social marketing architecture. If a social network is appropriate, will it be Facebook or LinkedIn? Do you need to build a private customer service forum or will a Twitter account be a better solution? These are the final questions your strategy will answer.
Step 6 – Action & Measure Your Results
Launch of your campaign. Work with community leaders to help ensure your message is at least considered by the people who count. As the plan unfolds, don't hesitate to review and revise as necessary. Nothing is so damaging as going ahead with something you know is flawed.
Here's where you find out if it worked. Write an honest, detailed assessment report. This can help pinpoint both the weak and strong points for any future campaigns.