With budget season around the corner, is your social media marketing on track to achieve its business objectives? Your social media marketing assessment should be done in the context of your overall marketing mid-year checkup.
Here's a five-point social media marketing checklist to assess how you're doing so far this year. Bear in mind where your firm is on the social media adoption curve as you answer these questions.
What's the current status of your social media marketing? Examine all of your social media marketing activities across platforms including blogs and social sharing. Is your social media marketing on track to achieve its objectives by social media format? Go beyond fan and follower counts to determine your progress. This means measuring your social media reach including earned media. To track social media-supported sales, you may need to monitor customer engagement earlier in the sales process since social media can influence sales before your monitoring starts tracking results. Also, include social media-delivered customer service. In addition, measure increased brand impact across traditional metrics with the help of brand monitoring. Don't overlook social media expenses, which may be higher than anticipated. (If this is the case, you may want to consider how to hide your social media spend.) Based on this information, assess whether you're using the appropriate social media networks and whether your social media marketing execution is on target. If you're still in the test phase of social media adoption, ensure that you have the appropriate metrics in place to track your engagement and results.
What's happening in the environment? Here's where your brand monitoring input is invaluable to help track what's being said about your company, brands, products, executives, and main keywords. (Note: this should be integrated with your search marketing strategy.) Also, consider what's happening in the economy and political arena to determine whether you need to adjust your social media approach. Given that technology drives social media engagement, incorporate an analysis of new communications devices, specifically smartphones and tablets, namely iPads.
What are your competitors doing on social media platforms? Think in terms of direct competitors in your niche, top companies in your category, and the dominant players in the marketplace. What information can you gather from your brand monitoring about them? Are there potential problems brewing that could have an impact on your offering? If competitors are active on different social media platforms, determine why and whether it makes sense to build a presence on there. Where possible, use personal accounts to engage with competitors to see how they treat and message social media participants. Here's help to set up your competitive analysis.
What's on the social media horizon? Since the dynamic social media ecosystem continues to evolve, it's critical to keep an eye on how these changes will affect your marketing. In addition to watching Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter as well as newer group coupons such as Groupon and LivingSocial and location-based services such as Foursquare, you should start testing Google+. (Need help getting started? Here are 62 Google+ resources.) Given Google+'s recent growth trajectory, it should be in your plans.
What do you need to modify in your social media marketing plans and strategies to ensure it meets your objectives? Realize that collecting this information is more than just busy-work. Use this information to make strategic changes to your social media marketing plans for the rest of the year. Integrate these modifications into your editorial calendar and overall business and marketing plans. Make sure that your social media activity is integrated across your organization. Lastly, make sure that you have a list of hot spots where you need to closely monitor what's going on to ensure that your social media marketing stays on track.
For your social media marketing strategy to be effective, you must constantly measure your progress, assess the environment, monitor your competitors, and track new technological developments. Once you've done your analysis, then determine where your social media marketing strategy and tactics need to be modified to achieve your goals and adjust them appropriately.
Do you have a regular social media marketing assessment in place? If so, do you have any other suggestions to add to this social media marketing checklist? If so, please include them in the comment section below.
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.