Ten steps to building a social media strategy that delivers.
Why should you spend your ad dollars on social media?
That might seem like a silly question, given that everyone seems to be shifting ad budgets to hop on the social media bandwagon. But if you aren't asking it, you're asking for disaster. And if you can't answer the question with a comprehensive, strategic answer, you're wasting your money.
It might sound harsh, but a recent Center for Media Research report has me worried. After surveying more than 1,000 people with media buying or planning responsibilities, the center found that "having a presence on social networks" is one of the top priorities for media plans in 2010.
Why should that worry me? Because I've only rarely encountered people with actual strategies behind their social media push. Sure, plenty of clients (and prospects) I've spoken to in the past year or so made vague noises about viral video or being on Facebook or tweeting, but when I've pressed them for why they want those things, few can give me an answer.
Not that I blame them: it's tough to read any of the industry press these days without getting the feeling that everyone's doing social media better than you are. Ad spending on social media sites keeps going up, the buzz is deafening, and just about every company you encounter asks you to follow them on Twitter, read their blog, or become their friend on Facebook. And like any new thing, it's got the sheen of new on it that's hard to resist.
But before you spend money on building a social media presence, take a step back. After all, if you're spending money there, you're not spending it somewhere else. If you don't spend money with a strategy, you're throwing it away.
Here, then, is my 10-step social media strategy checklist. It's hardly magical stuff; you could probably apply a lot of these questions to just about any advertising or marketing you do. But going through this checklist as you build a social media strategy will help you develop a strategy based on results, not hype. It may be painful, especially if you like new things (Oooh! Shiny!), but when you get real results instead of making excuses, you'll be glad you did.
Sean is off today. This column was originally published Sept. 14, 2009 on ClickZ.
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Sean Carton has recently been appointed to develop the Center for Digital Communication, Commerce, and Culture at the University of Baltimore and is chief creative officer at idfive in Baltimore. He was formerly the dean of Philadelphia University's School of Design + Media and chief experience officer at Carton Donofrio Partners, Inc.
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