”You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
Lorenzo Dow’s admonishment to other early 19th century clergy is just as apt today when a business considers whether to market their brand in social media. Like almost every other choice we make in life, there are risks and rewards irrespective of how we decide. Social marketing is a two-edged sword, and the benefits should be carefully weighed against the consequences prior to the commitment of resources required to wage a successful campaign. So how do we get the goodies and pass up the pitfalls?
Goal Setting – The very first step in any effective plan leading to successful outcomes is to establish realistically achievable goals. Social marketing is no different in this respect; it is imperative that we know exactly what it is we wish to accomplish. Do you want to establish sales leads in an effort to increase conversions? Are you trying to communicate to your targeted audience the benefits of a new product or service? Knowing which direction to go before setting out on the journey provides purpose, and paves the way to outlining a game plan that has hope of triumph in the long term.
Benefits: Having a concrete plan laid out from the beginning ensures all stakeholders of what can be expected and when. This will be helpful in budgeting allowance and lend accuracy to anticipated ROI.
Risks: The greatest risk here is in avoidance; not setting achievable goals from the outset will only lead to problems over the course of the crusade.
Metric Miscellany – How do you intend to measure your progress? Choosing the appropriate metrics is necessary to aid in keeping track of growth of the social marketing endeavors. Each will provide data that will be crucial in regulating the course of the campaign and assist in maintaining an open-ended assessment of advancement. Close attention to the selected metrics will be necessary throughout the operation, with adjustments made accordingly. Metrics to be used will be based on the needs of the goals set forth in the initial planning stages.
Benefits: Insight into the progress of the canvass supports the marketing approach and provides necessary feedback that keeps team members abreast of current evolvement.
Risks: Failure to opt for suitable metrics may lead to confusion and disappoint tactical evaluations. This can lead to a breakdown and malfunction of the social marketing strategy altogether.
Channel Choice – Which social media channel will best serve the campaign? Much will depend on the outlet which optimally lends itself to your metric needs, but more importantly consideration should also be given as to where your targeted audience spends most of its time. B2C companies may find clients on Facebook, Pinterest and/or Instagram, while B2B firms may lean toward the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter. While no stone should be left unturned, which is to say additional channels may need to be also pondered, the focus of campaign labors should reside within one or two social networking sites and concentrated accordingly.
Benefits: Making the most advantageous selection of social media outlets may mean all the difference between success and failure. As in all steps, careful thought should be given to what commitments resources are to be made and where.
Risks: Making the wrong selection of channels can undo all the hard work done to this point. Adequate research should be expended to guarantee the right choice is made.
Other Concerns – Further issues to factor in will include:
- Buy-in from all relevant stakeholders, especially at the executive level
- Making sure sufficient resources in terms of budget and personnel are in place will need to be regarded
Obviously not everything that will be required to carry out a fruitful and efficacious social marketing campaign are listed here, but this list will assist in getting started. Social media offers a wealth of opportunities for marketing, but carries with it hazards as well. Using these and other references can help with the likelihood of desirable outcomes.
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