Social media is important. CMOs get it. There are plenty of articles that detail how important social media is and many others talking about how unprepared CMOs are to handle it. However, few articles focus on the gap – the space between knowing social media is important and being able to successfully leverage it.
In a discussion with Marco Fregenal, founder of Social Media Guardian, he indicated that “the first thing that happens when the next new technology or channel comes out is that CMOs and CEOs tend to forget the basics. Before social media, it was a 1-to-1 conversation and afterwards it’s just 1-to-many. So…let’s just look at it as another tool, not a silver bullet, and manage it in a similar way that we would the rest of our tools.” In a discussion with Rick Thompson, founder of Brand Periscope, he outlined the following steps that CMOs can take to build a successful program.
Steps to Building a Social Media Program
1. Start with the end in mind and define the objectives/goals/target: What are the business objectives and what role does social media play in helping accomplish those goals? Once defined, what are the specific objectives and goals for the social media program? In addition, how do you measure the impact the social media program has on leads and revenue?
2. Define the Social Media Strategy: Given the defined target and the goals, what choices will you make regarding the channels, content, and categories you will focus on? What will be the balance between original content and curated content selected from other sources? The categories chosen provide the goalpost for the content you will create or source. As an example: Tide could target moms with kids and decide to focus on two of the biggest channels (Twitter, Facebook) with 50% original content and 50% curated content in 6 categories (Clothes, Fashion Trends, Stain Removal, Clothing Problems, Fabric Care, and Household Budgeting).
3. Develop the Content Plan: Now that you have the strategic plan framed up, determine the specific tactics regarding the content. How many messages per channel per day? What are the dayparts? What is the frequency per category? What is the mix between curated and original content? How does an organization develop original content that can interest an audience? “One best practice is to develop an editorial calendar weeks or even months in advance that coincides with important corporate events,” says Greg Matusky, President of Gregory FCA, a large integrated public relations and investor relations firm. “We typically publish the calendar and let it serve as a game plan for what will be published when and who will author each post,” says Matusky.
4. Execute it: Who leads and who participates in the implementation? Do you staff it internally or outsource it? What is the voice of the campaign? How do organizations humanize the message and the messenger?
5. Measure and Enhance: There are several articles dedicated to the topic of measurement. Essentially, the closer you link intermediate metrics (e.g. postings, linked, ingroups, retweets, etc.) to top and bottom line measures (revenue and profit), the better the metrics. However, there are four broad categories of behavior that you can measure:
- activity – i.e. the number of posts by channel and by category,
- engagement – i.e. the ability of the activity to get followers engaged (likes, comments, retweets),
- conversion – i.e. driving traffic to the website, generating leads, and, and
- performance – i.e. purchase.
Once you determine how the program is performing, you can alter and improve it. According to both Marco and Rick, the challenges that CMOs are struggling with include aligning social media programs with the broader business strategies, developing the content, and monitoring / measuring performance. This doesn’t seem unique at all. These challenges are similar to the challenges that marketing pioneers faced during the early years of TV. And this is Marco’s point, “Understand the nuanced difference, advantages and weaknesses of social media and then approach it from a strategic perspective the same way you would other tools. There are clear differences that need to be considered but at a strategic level, it’s simply one more tool.”
The next post will follow-up with the common social media mistakes and steps CMOs can take to avoid them.