Sometimes senior management wants things boiled down into easy-to-consume-and-understand packages. Because time is valuable, these executives want a high-level understanding of a concept or an idea. That can be pretty tough to do with social media marketing, especially when overnight successes have been touted on the latest business channels.
There is a way to break it down and explain that social media marketing is not quite as easy as starting an account on Facebook. It's a way to make things easier for directors, vice presidents, managers, and even practitioners. I call it the "Four Pillars of Social Media." Without any one of them in your strategy or planning, your foundation will be wobbly.
By researching where, when, how, and why your audience and/or consumers are interacting the way that they do, your social media marketing efforts will be finely tuned and targeted for the right kind of engagement with them. This engagement will allow you to see better results and set the right kind of goals and measurement factors when putting your plans in place.
Don't embrace a marketing tactic just because you heard about it on the news or your vendor tells you "they know how to implement it." Ask you and your team: Does your research support actually implementing those tactics? Is your audience there? Will implementing this tactic as part of an overall strategy be beneficial? Planning a strategy is like a road map that anyone on your team can read and understand where you're starting and where you want to end.
To be fully engaged with your audience or a community, you must actively listen (not just hear); you must offer advice as well as ask questions. You must say "thank you" as well as give value to your audience. By fully engaging with your audience and/or community, you can reap the benefits of the social media marketing strategy you wish to deploy.
Seeing an increase in Twitter account followers may excite your team, but represents only a tiny view of social media results. Use that metric in conjunction with how many people are retweeting, how many lists you are on, and how many active conversations (relevant ones) you are having a week to get a better picture of whether you are truly hitting your goals. That's just one example. Each social media community has different types of measurements; you have to decide which ones best help you define your success or failure.
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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.