With everyone jumping on the social media bandwagon (rightfully), most companies and individuals do not have a meaningful strategy. Since social media marketing is a new field, there is no roadmap that marketers and advertisers can use to map out a strategy. Early adopters are seeing returns (more on that in a future post), but its difficult for others to figure out or even understand what to do.
Television networks have depended on Nielsen ratings for a long time. Nielsen breaks down how many people are watching what show and demographics of the viewers. Nielsen has been collecting data since 1950. Similarly, radio stations, newspapers, and other print media can provide detailed breakdowns of listeners and readership. Advertisers can get similar data from popular websites who are looking to sell space on their sites.
The old model is about broadcasting to hopefully the right people and getting them interested in products. That doesn’t work with social media. Its all about relationships. Building relationship, cultivating relationships, interacting with clients, potential clients.
The onus falls on the marketer to start creating organic growth.
Sean Carton, over at Clickz, has a great article called A Social Media Strategy Checklist. Its a great starting point for everyone, especially for folks wondering what the right questions are. To kick off any social media strategy, these questions need to be answered:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- Why social media?
- What kind of social media will help us best achieve our goals?
- Are we prepared to let go of control of our brand, at least a little?
- What will we do to encourage participation?
- Who will maintain our social media presence?
- Do we have the resources to keep this up, or will this be a short campaign?
- How does engaging use rs via social media integrate into our overall marketing/communications strategy?
- How do we measure success? What constitutes failure?
- What will we do less of if we’re spending resources on social media?
The question of what resources to dedicate to social media (#7 above) is interesting. Attending New Media Atlanta conference recently, Newell-Rubbermaid was involved in a panel discussion. An audience member asked what kind of resources Rubbermaid puts towards social media. The response: 50% of one full-time employee and 2 interns. Rubbermaid has a market cap of $4.2B. Its hard to believe such a well known brand, whose bottom-line is tied to consumer confidence in its brand, would not provide more resources to its public face. Still, Rubbermaid clearly understands the value of their online presence and social media and has plans for expansion.
The panel also discussed ROI (part of #9 above). The usual metrics of measuring views, followers, comments, or subscribers don’t apply well if the product is purchased from retailers. Rubbermaid said the only form of marketing they could successfully measure was of the in-store variety. Chris Brogan, who was the keynote for the New Media Atlanta conference, said the only ROI that mattered was specific dollar amounts. Show spending X amounts of dollars on social media will lead to Y dollars in savings.
It is important to remember that having concrete answers for all the above questions may not be possible. Knowing why and how are basic questions and can’t be pushed to the back burner. Without answers to them, no viable strategy can be created. The ROI question is tricky and there is no consensus, but Brogan’s assertion that providing a dollar value can be a good starting point.