Social Media Campaign Readiness
A growing number of small business owners now understand that in order to compete with others in their industry they must have a presence on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Many of my clients have joined Linkedin or Facebook, started to create a profile and then do not continue due to lack of time, lack of patience with the technology, or simply do not see the value in participating. I am writing this article to help those in a similar situation, or those contemplating starting a social media campaign to give you some strategies for creating a successful social media campaign.
Before you embark on a social media campaign you need to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your company’s overall marketing goals and an awareness as to the role of social media in accomplishing your marketing objectives. My suggestion is to bring all of those involved in your marketing efforts together to discuss and answer these key questions:
1. Are you familiar with online marketing principles and tools?
You must understand inbound marketing concepts and strategies in order to begin to see the relevance of social media to any marketing campaign. There are many inbound marketing educational articles online which can easily be found through a Google search of the terms inbound marketing. Hubspot.com offers some great, free white papers, articles and videos that outline the role of social media can play in inbound marketing.
2. Does you company have clear marketing goals and an idea as to how social media can help?
You must be clear on your overarching marketing goals before you can envision a role for social media. For example, you must know the answers to these core marketing questions:
- Which target populations(demographics) are you interested in reaching?
- What sites do they visit online?
- What content are they searching for online?
- What keywords do they use to search?
- What interests them about your product or service?
- What is the problem that you are solving for them?
- What stage are they in the buying cycle and is your content relevant to that stage?
Your social media campaign goals should then derive from your marketing strategy as one component of that strategy.
Social media is about building community through an on-going dialogue with those interested in your business. If done correctly, it can be effective in driving more traffic to your website or blog, assessing customer’s needs and wants, getting feedback on existing product or service offerings, increasing brand recognition and knowledge of your product or service offerings, and in cross selling or up selling products or services to existing customers.
When creating social media goals you must identify the best channels to target for your business. Once this is determined, you can plan an integrated marketing campaign that may include an enewsletter, educational videos, press releases, article marketing, blogging or blog commenting, joining and participating in online groups, or conversations on social media sites like facebook or twitter.
3. How are you measuring marketing and social media goals?
Do you have a process in place to measure your marketing success? Some measurements metrics include an:
- increase in your prospect and/or client database
- increase in sales
- increase in call center volume, email inquiries
- increase in website traffic deriving from social media sites (this can be measures through Google analytics)
- increase in positive mentions about your brand across the blogosphere
You will need to define what success means to you before you launch your social media campaign to more accurately assess whether your business is deriving benefit from social media.
4. Are you ready to commit the resources necessary to accomplish your social media goals?
Starting a social media campaign is not that difficult, but you need to have the dedicated resources and commitment to keep it going. One must realize that these campaigns, in order to be effective, must be on-going, long-term efforts that will need to be refined over time.
I would advise against starting a campaign, and then stopping it for any reason because you risk damaging your brand even more than not using social media at all. So before you start a social media campaign, decide who will be responsible for managing it, and evaluate if the agency supports their commitment of time, financial resources, and personnel resources required to run your campaign. If you are not ready for this commitment, then you may want to delay implementation until such time as you are ready, or consider outsourcing your campaign to a third party. Sometimes allowing a third party to manage your campaign can be money well spent due to the learning curve necessary to master the technology and the online savvy needed to manage the campaigns to their maximum potential. Another option is to have a third party teach your staff how to run a campaign. Your employees, if trained and given parameters for using social media sites, can be your best spokespersons as they know your products and services and can convey their value to prospects and clients alike.