Jumping into social media marketing before you’re ready can be devastating to your business. The argument that people are already talking about you through social media channels has been used to push brands into social media marketing before they’re ready.
It’s a myth that you’d be better off participating than not participating. The voice you create for your brand can have echoing repercussions.
There are 3 questions you need to ask yourself before you ‘take-the-plunge’ into social media marketing. If you can’t answer yes to these 3 questions you need to do some work before participating & engaging with your audience through social media channels.
1. Do you have social media balance?
2. Do you have the right corporate structure?
3. Does your T.V. know what your computer’s doing?
Question #1: Do you have social media balance?
This refers to your understanding of the social media space, and what kind of goals you need to define. There are 4 things participating in social media will affect:
Even if you’re brand is ubiquitous and everyone’s aware of it; social media connects a human face with your brand. Take Nike, for example; visiting their Facebook page, I was able to find out which of my friends like their brand. This brings a new level of brand-awareness into play.
Of course, the traditional level of brand awareness should be a consideration too. With video’s like the Twilight trailer receiving an estimated 300 Million collective views, social media is quickly becoming a mass awareness tool.
Take Away: Participating in social media marketing will affect awareness. If you’re social media goals don’t define how you want brand awareness to be affected; you do not have social media balance.
Brands can be very effectively defined using social media, but even if you’re not defining your brand using social media, you need to define how you want your brand to be perceived within the channels your participating in.
Social media allows users to connect with your brand in a more intimate way than through traditional channels. This brand intimacy can be a double-edged sword: Wielded properly it can create brand advocates who will evangelize your brand identity & protect you from social media trolls. Wielded incorrectly can create brand dissidents who will actively damage your brand image & encourage users to find alternatives to your brand. These two extremes have always existed; but have never been more prominent than with the rise of social media.
Take Away: Participating in social media marketing will affect brand image. If you’re social media goals don’t define the brand image you want to create & support, you do not have social media balance.
Getting users to do things has long been the goal of online marketing initiatives. Social media marketing will affect your conversion funnel. Because conversion goals can range from awareness, to repeat purchase it’s important to note that every level of your conversion funnel can be affected by social media marketing.
A Facebook ecommerce solution can convert engaged users to actual customers. A Facebook Connect-enabled website can convert brand-aware users to engaged users who you’re able to communicate with in the future. A well curated Twitter stream can convert a dissatisfied customer to a satisfied one.
Take Away: Participating in social media marketing will affect your conversion rate. Conversion goals are important to set on a channel-by-channel basis; in many cases several conversion goals will be set for a specific channel. If you’re social media goals don’t define these goals, you don’t have social media balance.
Slightly different than the other 3 elements, eCRM is affected by social media marketing by changing the users expectations of the brand/customer relationship. Social media gives brands the ability to collect very insightful user information. If that information isn’t properly collected, analyzed, and used to influence ongoing marketing initiatives users will consider that brand a poor listener.
Take Away: Participating in social media marketing will give you eCRM data. If you will not collect this information, analyze it, and use it to influence marketing campaigns, you do not have social media balance.
Question #2: Do you have the right corporate structure?
Even if you have social media balance, you might be setting yourself up for failure by not having the proper corporate structure. Many brands have delegated community management to specialists. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there should be a response assessment & escalation procedure. I’m currently adapting a process brand call-centers use for contact assessment & escalation to be used for social media response assessment.
The important thing to note, is that a community manager with properly established goals can be a valuable addition to your corporate structure, but social media participation & monitoring should be infused throughout the organization. It should be noted that different members of your team will have different levels of responsibility for participation & monitoring – if a team member has 0% involvement with social media marketing initiatives (and 0% of his time is allocated to participation & monitoring) you need to consider defining a system where participation & monitoring is available to those employees who want it.
Note: In addition to having an enabled & empowered corporate team, you need to ensure the right tools are available. Tools like Tweetdeck, CoTweet, Sysomos, & Radian 6 can help enable your teams to get the most out of your social media marketing activities.
Question #3: Does your T.V. know what your computer’s doing?
Many brands have a ‘zone’ strategy, where brand experts divide duties. The might be one person in charge of marketing communications, one person in charge of business communications, and one person in charge of in-store; authority over these areas may even be further delegated to sub-brand specific, medium-specific, or campaign-specific managers.
If these zones don’t have a good collaborative process; it’s probably not a good idea to throw social media into the mix. As outlined in question #1, social media will affect 4 key areas of your business & should be integrated across the entire business. If you’re marketing, business, and in-store communications are being created for what-works-best; you might be missing out on synergies across communication channels. (i.e. Providing a Facebook url as a tag line at the end of a broadcast campaign might seem like it works best for both the broadcast & social media campaigns; but understanding that users often use the search box when looking for things on Facebook might suggest that you ask users to search for a keyword instead. The extra time it takes for users to listen to this message might not make the most out of the broadcast time, but might provide a better net conversion rate, providing a higher ROI across media.)
I understand that if a brand never participates in social media, it won’t ever be able to perfect things. There is a theory that it might be better to jump in and make corrections as needed. If you’re transparent about the fact you’re learning, you’re audience might respect that. — From a cognitive perspective, it makes sense. People generally understand the learning process and can be gracious about certain mistakes. I’m not suggesting that brands avoid social media in fear of failure; but know the game before you start making big bets.
I appreciate all comments & questions. I encourage you to respond to this post here, or on Twitter to @thejordanrules.