How your company's PR, HR, IT, customer service, and search marketing teams can help your social media efforts succeed.
Social media marketing doesn't exist in a vacuum. You can't plan a strategy and implement it without taking other forms of marketing into account. The more you integrate your marketing strategies, the better your chances for success.
There's a two-pronged approach to look at this situation:
Ensuring Everyone Knows
Your customer service department may not be directly involved in your online social media strategy, but they can still help make your implementation a success. The same goes for your traditional marketing department, your public relations team, and your information technology organization. Let everyone who could have a hand in helping you succeed know what you are implementing.
Your customer service department has a direct line to your customers; they have the opportunity to let your customers know about your Facebook Fan Page, your new community, your blog, or other social media tactic. Your customer service department is also a great wealth of stories of engagement that happens in a one-on-one environment - the phone. Most likely, your customer service representatives can relate at least two stories to you a week about how they helped customers; these make for great conversation starters in social media communities.
Then there's your marketing departments. Whether it's SEO (define), PPC (define), e-mail, direct mail, public relations, or more traditional marketing, your social media strategy will be a much bigger success if you work with these departments and incorporate their efforts and tactics into your own strategy. Your PR team can give you better insight in dealing with the media, as opposed to bloggers, and they can help your team understand the messaging your company has carefully crafted. Marketing can help make the offline pieces jive with online efforts. SEO and PPC can complement what you are implementing, and e-mail can help to propagate your messages to those people already interested in what you are doing.
By working with your IT department as well, you will be better prepared if something really takes off in social media. Your IT department can ensure that the site can handle the influx of traffic if your tactic implemented in social media communities really hits home with the audience and spreads like wildfire.
There are other departments you shouldn't leave out of the mix either. Your HR department can help you establish policies so that everyone in the company realizes what they do in social media affects the company's image and reputation. Your legal department should be brought in too - actually, they should be one of the first places you discuss your social media strategy with, because they can help keep you out of trouble from the get-go.
Integrating Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
Just because you launch a Fan Page on Facebook doesn't automatically mean you're going to get thousands of fans immediately. If you launch a new community, it doesn't mean there will be hundreds of sign-ups the minute the site goes live. This takes time and promotion.
While social media is about engagement and creating relationships, people must know that you are out there engaging. To do that, you must be wise about how you implement your social media strategy. That means integrating several aspects of marketing (both online and offline) into your approach.
By having the above-mentioned interaction with your other departments, you'll be able to get help from those departments to help promote what you are implementing in social media. The whole point of your engagement strategy is to be social with your community, customers, and audience, isn't it? Why not use your whole arsenal of marketing experts to help increase the potential base you can be socially engaging with?
Your SEO and PPC team can help optimize your initiative for search engine rankings. SEO is going to take a bit of time to start to appear in the natural results. While that occurs, a small PPC campaign could help get the attention of those you are trying to reach. Your PPC team can tweak the ad copy to relate best to the audience you are trying to engage with and can look at several avenues, including ads placed on sites beyond just Google.
Your marketing team can help publicize social media efforts on your company's more traditional marketing outreach. If you have a TV campaign running, ensuring your Facebook Fan Page address is displayed could be a huge boon for driving new fans, and open up the opportunity for more engagement.
It doesn't stop there, either. Your e-mail team, direct mail team, and PR team can help get the word out about your social media strategy. Why not use all of these areas of expertise to your advantage? Taking the steps to understand not only the audience that you are targeting, but how your own internal company structure can best help you, can lead to more success when implementing your social media strategy.
Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
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