6-point framework for Social Media Marketing strategy

Social Media Marketing Strategy is the buzz-phrase of all marketers these days.

However, we recently found out that all the “strategy” related buzz flowing around actually boils down to the TOOLs used – and not the STRATEGY. In a previous post we briefly outlined the 3 foundations on which SMM strategy should be built upon. This post will focus upon developing a framework for developing SMM campaign strategy.

Like any strategy, the framework for SMM campaign can be simply depicted as a closed loop system (see figure).

6-point closed-loop strategy framework

Where are we?

To know this, we need to gain intelligence on our competitors and customers. We need to monitor and listen to the buzz around our industry and category, utilizing independent resources and tools available online.

Secondly, even though social-media knowledge is high among most customers and industries, we still need to assess the current level of social-media readiness of our customer universe. An understanding of this will make a difference in deciding the tools we’d like to employ during the later stages.

Thirdly, we also need to identify our digital assets and our available content, which should give a fair indication of the level of resource allocation needed for our campaign.

Who are with us?

Analysis involved in the above steps will specify the target audience we need to address and their social-technographic profile. We need to identify which social media clusters or combination of these would work for us.

Where do we want to go?

Our Analysis would also give an indication about our realistic Goals / Objectives for the campaign. These objectives must be aligned with the target audience clusters and the metrics we’d employ to monitor / measure our campaign. From this, we’d have targeted and measurable objectives.

While setting objectives we also need to gain a balance between “effectiveness” and ‘impact” of the campaign. Broadly, the objectives could be:

  1. Listening – Researching to gain customer understanding
  2. Talking – Spreading Co. messages
  3. Energising – Powered buzz created by enthusiastic customers
  4. Supporting – Helping customers support each-other
  5. Embracing – Integrating customers into the business (e.g. participating in design process) – though applicable in case any of 4 other objectives has already been met.

How can we go there?

The processes involved in achieving our objectives need to be carefully formulated. The need and current level of social-media readiness will lead to employable tactics from an ever increasing universe of tools available; e.g. blogging, micro-blogging, multimedia sharing, bookmarking, etc. From this we’d get an idea of the share of investments needed out of overall online budgets.

Secondly, we need to integrate the social media tools with other online tools and tactics employed (e.g. SEM, PPC, SEO, SMO, etc.). Monitoring and management of tactics and resources is crucial at this stage. We need to select SM platforms based on tactical effectiveness and architectural fitness.

Are we ready to go?

Once the processes have been formulated, we need to develop SM architecture in order to map out the multiple activity levels. For any SM campaign, the Blog acts as the hub, while the communities (e.e. Facebook, Youtube), forums, outposts (e.g. Twitter) act as the spokes of the structure.

Taken as a whole, the SM architecture acts as an interface of the SM campaign for the target audience, as well as acts as a dashboard to control campaign implementation.

What’s our progress?

Once implemented, we need to constantly monitor the campaign for its effectiveness, based on the metrics set at the 3rd stage and take steps to amend tactics as we go along.

Last but not the least, we must not forget that the above framework has been developed within the 3 foundations of SM campaign planning, discussed in a previous post.

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3 Foundations of Social Media Marketing campaign

Ever since the social media marketing started making noise, scores and scores of so-called “experts” Social Media Marketing tips, tactics, tools, are afloat on the cyberspace. More often than not we find that most of these keep blubbering on the same things again and again, in different colors and shades.

Is there any method to madness in formulating and implementing a Social Media Marketing strategy today? This question was thrown open on a popular social media platform, to check the general understanding on whether there’s any strategy behind this madness, The responses received in this experiment suggested that if there’s any, social media strategy is all about (a) Identifying Audience (b) Identifying Content Hubs (c) Identifying traffic drivers (d) Creating and participating in communities. Many books written by “expert authors also outline and elaborate upon some basic guidelines as follows:

  • Why Social Media marketing
  • What are the tools
  • How to use the tools most effectively for marketing
  • How to measure progress and adapt

Doesn’t this indicate that Social Media Marketing (SMM) is still being primarily used as a TOOL? For example, the buzz flowing around the subject is all about “Tactics” – which sites, how to listen, how to be effective, how to optimize, etc. – and not about “Strategy”. A strategic framework or approach is usually either missing or is just superficially touched upon.

What should be the approach to make sure that your investment in social media is not just an experiment?

There are 3 foundations on which SMM campaign is built upon. We’ll talk about these 3 elements in this post and dedicate another post to the talk specifically on Strategy Framework for SMM.

Foundations of Social Media Marketing (c) one%inspiration

First and foremost, we must consciously acknowledge that there are 3 main drivers of successful SMM campaign: (1) Strategy (not tactics) (2) Technology and (3) Design. Strategy involves analyzing the needs and goals for engaging the brand on social media platform, and outlining potential tactics in doing so. While Strategy is the way to go, Technology acts as the backbone and Design as the interface of any SMM campaign.

Secondly, we must be clear about the role of technology. Even though it’s the backbone, it’s not an end in itself. Many thought leaders (e.g. Charlene Li) advocate that the most important mantra of social media marketing is:

It’s NOT about Technologies; It’s all about RELATIONSHIP.

As a result, when you say that your SMM strategy is to be on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, you’re actually talking about the Tools and Tactics only. It’s the relationship you create by using these platforms which makes a difference for you. Once you understand this and adopt it in practice, it’s easy to follow any guideline or develop your own simple framework.

Thirdly, Design being the interface with the users, a lot of effort must go in to make innovations and not just copy / replicate design approaches of successful companies. By saying this I necessarily mean that before you sit on the design table, you must imbibe into “Design Thinking” – which is an attitude to Solve a problem in simple newer ways at hand rather than aiming for a “good looking” interface. For example, if you need an interface to woo your customers to your Facebook page, you must get deeper into the social media behaviors of these customers and utilize these insights to see what’s required out of the interface. It’s only then you should go to the design table.

My next post will talk about a strategic framework for SMM campaign.

The Art of Targeting in Social Media

Social media has become the melting pot for many types of customers – many of whom have grown up with traditional media, but have adopted the social media very well!

A cursory search generates scores of articles, blogs, tips, etc. on how to best use social media for marketing yourself, your company or product / service. Not to talk of 100s of book dedicated to the various strategies, tactics and tools employed in social media marketing. However, you’d hardly find the magic mantra to correctly target your campaign.

In my previous article, I talked of ways to identify the clusters of customers / social media users, who’d help in your targeting. In this post I’ll share the magic mantra of social media targeting.

While developing a campaign today, the first thing you must accept is that the marketing world has seen a few major paradigm shifts in communication thought in recent years:

1)      Shifts in Communication Planning Process – From the baby days of advertising, when communication meant just creating direct feature based messages, the communication planning has progressed through positioning, brand development (account planning), connection planning, engagement planning, to its current focus – propagation planning. In simple terms, it means planning the ways and means to spread a belief or a practice among new groups of individuals.

2)      Shifts from “Classical” Marketing to “Flipped-Funnel” Marketing – This is best described by the image here.

Flipped Funnel Marketing (source: The New Marketing Landscape By Dan Pankraz)

3)      Media Democratizationtowards an ever widening media landscape 

3 kinds of media (source: Group M)

– Media has essentially evolved and broadened to PAID, “EARNED” and OWNED types. Earned Media is the most important shift over the last few years, wherein choosing the right channels marketers can expand the reach much beyond the paid media. Owned media is one’s own media channel in terms of blogs and micro blogs, which has a community built around it.

4)      Shifts from Funnel-type to Pyramid-type of awareness generation process – Classical communication models depended more upon AIDA model – i.e. starting off with awareness generation among a larger set, losing out a few through the stages of interest development and desire creation, with the hope of zeroing down to a small subset of a few purchasers of the product / service. This has given way to Pyramid type of targeting: you start off with a small subset, and let the members of this subset spread the awareness among their 6-degrees of separation. After some time, you can surely hope to have a much larger “aware” as well as “committed” base.

Idea courtesy: Brandon Murphy (from 22squared), Karen Evans & Evan Slater)

5)      Shift in Focus within the Adoption Curve – Pyramid type awareness generation has encouraged usage of social media in parallel targeting of the customers. Therefore in addition to mass marketing, which targets the majority of early and late adopters, one targets the miniscule innovators, and the laggards too to increase adoption rates.

Image Courtesy: Griffin Farley

Once you have accepted these major shifts in communication thought, it will be easy to adopt the magic mantra for social media targeting:

Target NOT the people you wish to reach BUT the people that they reach

In simple terms it means that you need to target the influencers of your target first, before thinking of targeting your core customers. Results? Effective utilization of resources, and the chance to improve your targeting process.

7 Clusters to Identify Connected Customers

Ever since the broadband started getting into most of the households all over the world, technology started creeping into our lives like never before! Easy access to internet brought us closer to many sophisticated technological products like never before.

Products like Mobile phones, MP3 players, Cameras and other integrated products are helping us to use technology even more and more every day to connect with our friends, family and even make newer connections. As a result we find ourselves to be an integral part of a connected world.

How are we using this to enhance our lives? The answer: we’re getting more and more close to people, products, technology, environment, politics, etc. through our virtual networks within social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube and many others! Technology has become the mammoth homogenizer of the society.

Not all of us however use these networks in equal terms. How would you – the marketer – identify and segment your customers? The answer lies in GROUNDSWELL. Consumers within connected world – esp. by lieu of their participation in social media networks – could be segregated into 7 clusters:

  • Creators (almost 1/4th of the universe)
  • Conversationalists (approx. 1/3rd)
  • Critics (little more than 1/3rd)
  • Collectors (little more than 1/5th)
  • Joiners (3/5th of the universe)
  • Spectators (more than 2/3rd of the universe)
  • Inactives (less than 1/5th of the universe)

Status of a person within the social media network is decided on the level of involvement one has. It starts from an inactive stage and goes thru various stages of the ladder till he / she becomes a creator. For example, an Inactive is one knows about social networks, but has never explored it in any way; a collector on the other hand, uses RSS feeds, votes on websites online and tags web pages / photos; while a creator is in true sense a real contributor to the social media – writer, publisher, participator, contributor, etc. all rolled into one.

Every year, except for the Inactives, every cluster is growing at a steady rate. However, Joiners showed the highest increase among all clusters. In future, you can expect some shifts happening from Spectators towards joiners or above.

Once you have identified these clusters, the next step of a marketer is to devise ways of targeting them or using them to achieve your marketing objectives.

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