Social media marketing is all the rage and every marketer feels that they must have a social media marketing campaign to be in tune with the times. But the reality is that most organizations are doing social media marketing wrong. It should not be a do-it-once, time-limited campaign, created by your marketing, communications, and/or PR department(s). It should be much more.
To take full advantage of social media marketing requires breaking down internal corporate silos and integrating social media strategies across your entire organization. It needs to permeate your entire organization. Social media marketing is the glue that truly enables integrated marketing across channels.
12 Tactics for Integrating Social Media Marketing Across Your Organization
To help expand how social media marketing is used within your company, here are 12 practical tactics:
Create social media-friendly content on a regular basis: This content should be used across corporate communications. This information must not be leftover or recycled content. To work effectively, it must be high quality, useful information that consumers want and find useful. Examples include additional ways to use your product such as mixing and matching a variety of clothing pieces or photographs showing step-by-step how to install your product. Ask visitors what type of information they want. Useful metrics: Monitor views, shared content via social media and other channels, and customer comments.
Cross-promote social media marketing in online and offline marketing: Mention social media marketing efforts in online advertising, Web site, e-mail, mobile, packaging, direct mail, television, print, out-of-home, and other advertising/marketing efforts. Useful metrics: When possible, track where social media references come from. Also, assess increases in social media activity that corresponds to initiation of other marketing campaigns.
Integrate social media marketing into annual corporate budgeting and marketing planning processes: Social media marketing isn't free and can't be done when an employee has extra time. It requires dedicated resources and support. Useful metrics: Track social media-related budgets and resources including time dedicated to social media efforts.
Extend customer service reach and responsiveness: This can be done by using social media to respond to customer questions, comments, and appropriate conversations. A relevant, personalized response is needed, not an automated answer. Useful metrics: Track the number of customer engagements and sentiment over time.
Encourage employees to participate in social media as company representatives: This can be done by establishing guidelines for their participation. For example, tell employees how they should identify themselves as your representatives and support their efforts by calling attention to positive results. A good example of an employee who blogs is Dan Blank's blog. Useful metrics: Count the number of employees involved in social media, monitor-related links into your Web site, and new prospects.
Extend the reach of company events online: Extend by using a variety of social media tools such as Twitter, slide sharing, and video sharing. This includes live demonstrations that are videotaped or photographed and/or live blogging and/or tweeting of meetings, shows, and conferences. For example, a travel firm could use Flickr to enable travelers to share their photos and comments of their tours while a tool supplier could use YouTube to post "How To" demonstrations. Useful metrics: Monitor views of your company content across social media channels as well as customer comments, blog posts, and tweets.
Extend PR efforts through social media use: This includes social media press releases, blogs, video, photographs, Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter, slide sharing, and other social media options to get the word out quickly and broadly. Also, engage outspoken consumers identified via social media tracking in appropriate channels. Useful metrics: Monitor press and other forms of media pickups as well as consumer conversations across social media environments.
Provide faster, more effective crisis management for public issues through the use of social media tools: This means monitoring the sentiment of those conversations to understand what's being said and how the public is reacting. This is a 24/7 process. To this end, have on-going social media monitoring, provide social media training to appropriately engage consumers, and install a process to raise potential issues through the company hierarchy. Then use social media to respond quickly and appropriately. Useful metrics: Monitor the number and size of potential issues and the effectiveness of social media response.
Gather customer input and feedback for market research purposes: This is good for gaining useful insights about your products through forums, in-person meetups, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and reviews. Consumers may provide suggestions that wouldn't have surfaced within the organization. Useful metrics: Assess market research improvements through the number of customer recommendations that get implemented and speedier time-to-market. Understand that market research resources may be used differently rather than reducing their budget or headcount.
Expand human resources' reach and effectiveness: Do this through social media use. New talent can be acquired more quickly and cost-effectively through social networking. Managers can preview job seekers' work online, for example, a blog. Additionally, good work by existing employees can be showcased through a variety of social media formats and environments. For example, the employee of the month might be highlighted on a Facebook Fan Page. Useful metrics: Measure effectiveness through reduced employee turnover, shorter time to hire, and reduced hiring costs.
Enhance investor relations through the use of social media: Such as video, slides, podcasts, and Webinars. Don't limit your efforts to information required by regulators. Create and share content that gives investors a feel for your business such as new business performance and promoting your investor day. Useful metrics: Track relevant pieces of content, especially those required by regulators, number of views per piece of content and investor engagements, and the sentiment of those engagements.
Facilitate cross-organizational relationships: This can be done through corporate networking presence such as LinkedIn or private social networks. Useful metrics: Assess improved employee relationships as well as improved cross-organization functioning.
While many companies think that they have an effective social media marketing strategy, they've only started to test the waters. They need to go further by assessing how they can apply social media marketing strategies across the various areas of their company. In addition to helping make firms more responsive to customer needs and issues, expanded use of social media marketing strategies will enhance overall performance.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.