You’ve heard about social media, you know you want to use social media, you have a budget for social media, but you need to know how to use social media marketing to help achieve your corporate marketing goals.
It’s an intimidating field because it’s so new and you know if a strategy is not clearly mapped out social media marketing initiatives can fail. But you can’t ignore it because you want to stay ahead of competitors, retain clients, manage your brand and monitor your space.
So where do you start? Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to building a successful social media marketing strategy…
Step 1: Define goals and objectives
Clearly map out your corporation’s goals and objectives.
Is your goal to:
- Generate more brand awareness?
- Interact with prospects?
- Monitor competition?
- Monitor and manage your brand reputation?
- Generate awareness of your company’s services or offerings?
- Attract new employees, investors, partners/vendors?
Step 2: Pinpoint where your audience and potential evangelists are sharing information
Listen to what’s going on in your space and identify the thought leaders and ambassadors. Look at who you are currently communicating with and how, as well as with whom you want to interact. This will help you form a basis for everything else you do with social media tools. Identifying your audience before simply choosing convenient tools will lead to a much more successful social media campaign.
To help identify where/how your customers are sharing and consuming information online. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my target audience on social networking sites?
- Do they belong to specialized groups?
- Who are they interacting with?
- Which social media channels would be best to use for the type of content you have?
Step 3: Audit Resources
Once you have figured out what you would like to do with social media to achieve your corporate marketing goals, you have three options to execute your campaign: use current staff; hire employee(s); or outsource parts or all of your campaign to an outside vendor. You must consider the following when making your decision:
- Do I have existing content that I can re-purpose?
- Do my internal resources have existing knowledge on the platforms, and technologies needed to execute my campaign. How much is their “ramp up” going to cost my department in staff hours?
- What technology (portals, videos, platforms that enable user generated content, landing pages) do I need to develop? Which of these do I need to outsource?
- What monitoring tools do I have available?
- Who is going to fulfill the different social media marketing roles and responsibilities?
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Step 4: Establish a social media protocol
A corporate social media protocol should be developed and employed to help companies feel comfortable about social media participation. A well-constructed protocol can help companies organize and prioritize goals, designate the individuals that should assume ownership of the brand’s online communications, while simultaneously ensuring that these communications broadcast messages that are consistent across all social media engagements.
To begin establishing a protocol, ask yourself the following questions:
- What information do we want to keep private?
- What kinds of information would we benefit from making public?
- What personal social media use is appropriate? Inappropriate?
- How will we measure which rules are helpful and which are not?
- Who are our quality followers? How can we continually engage them?
- Should we have a set of rules for proactive social media use? Reactive social media use?
- How do we respond to positive engagement versus negative engagement?
Step 5: Start using social media
Now that you determined who you want to communicate with, who is going to accomplish your social media marketing initiatives, and where you want to go with the relationships, you can execute your plan.
Step 6: Measure results
You need to measure and monitor all activity. Be sure that you create mechanisms for feedback and input throughout your process to provide opportunities for your community, staff, etc. to share ideas and LISTEN!
Ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your social media efforts:
- Have your networks grown or changed? How?
- Are there new social media roles to explore?
- What worked?
- What can we do differently?
- What should we eliminate?
- How much time is spent on each social media initiative?
- How is social media changing right now?
- Are we ahead of our competitors?
If you want to use social media marketing in your overall marketing plan, you need a sound strategy. If you don’t have a sound strategy, you risk losing control of your brand, reputation, client base and prospects. If you do have one, you will have a huge advantage over competitors, have the ability to enforce or build a loyal client base, position your thought leaders as experts, develop interactive relationships with prospects, avoid potential pitfalls and have an overall stronger marketing plan.
-AJ Gerritson is Founding Partner and Social Media Strategist at 451 Marketing, a Boston-based communications agency that specializes in social media marketing, public relations, and creative development. For more information, please visit AJ’s LinkedIn Page.