By B.L. Ochman
Every day I get a call or an email from a company – often a household brand – that wants to do something fast, cheap, measurable, and blockbusting in social media.
I tell them: you need to KISS – keep it strategic silly!
They want to employ Twitter, or do blogger outreach, or set up a Facebook page. Those are tactics. What they need is strategy. Otherwise, they’ll just waste time and money.
The difference between strategy and tactics?
Take Google as an example. Google’s strategy is to provide free services that are so valuable users become dependent on them, driving drive enough traffic to the services to generate ROI for advertisers and revenue for Google.
Google’s tactics: feature-rich Gmail with enormous storage capacity; free word processing, spread sheets, and other programs that are better, or at least as good as Microsoft’s paid software; the best free maps and directions; free Blogger.com software, the best search on the planet, and much more – all free. Google staff blog, post videos, participate in Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to put a human face on the vast corporation.
How do you start your corporate strategy?
Forget baby steps and new media toe dipping. There are Olympic swimmers doing laps in the pool. You don’t need tactics, you need strategy. KISS
This may sound basic, but social media is vastly misunderstood, and poorly used by the majority of self-proclaimed experts and gurus who claim to be able to lead the corporate charge to the new playing field. Before you begin, consider:
What are your goals? Who are you trying to reach, and why?
Type “social media marketing” into Google and you’ll instantly get nearly 44 million results. Obviously, there are a lot of ideas and approaches about what do to with social media. But what matters for your company is what you are trying to accomplish and then how, why and whether social media tools can help you reach your goals.
What internal resources can you devote to social media marketing? Who on your internal team will take responsibility for helping to integrate social media into your overall corporate marketing strategy? What training will they get? How much time can they devote to social media?
Who’s your audience?
Listen to the people you want to reach. How do they interact with each other? What types of social networks do they frequent and how do they use the tools these networks provide?
Some people on Twitter, for example, talk about what they ate for lunch. Others share business intelligence. Which segment is your audience? Where do they gather? What tools do they use to talk to each other?
What tools will you employ?
Blogging? Micro-blogging? Video? Podcasting? Social networks? Forums? Wikis? Which ones will help you connect members of your audience? How will one tactic be used to drive traffic to other parts of your campaign? Which tools can help drive your sales?
How will you measure your success?
How will you benchmark your starting point and interval measurements? What tools will you use? Who will be responsible for reporting the results to the organization? Unless there is one person devoted to social media – a community manager – your efforts are likely to be buckshot. Not very effective for hitting a big target.
What role will social media play in your integrated marketing?
The social web has to be integrated with fundamental marketing tactics, tools and best practices to create an overall strategy for your brand. There are a host of tools and technologies that companies can use to build their brand’s trust, reputation, community relationships, and sales.
Are you willing to devote time to achieving social media success?
There is no quick social media fix. Results come in the long term, the same way they do with integrated marketing. There is no such thing as an overnight success unless you are the Numa Numa dancer Gary Brolsma. It’s not quantity or speed that matter, it’s quality, influence, and engagement.
What’s your budget?
It costs money and requires specialized knowledge and experience to create an effective social media campaign.
When I wrote about what the cost of social media marketing on this blog, and in Businessweek, a lot of people freaked out. One guy actually said he could build a social media campaign in an hour using blogger. If you’d hire somebody like him to represent your brand, you are definitely wasting your time reading this post.
The entire Internet is social
Social media at its most basic level is interactive media. If your site doesn’t allow for interactivity and conversation, and people have something to say – they will find a place to say it.
Everyone is a publisher now, if they want to be. And everyone has at least a few people they can tell their opinions to.
Join in. Be real. Talk like a human being.
Offer to help people, answer questions, solve problems. Provide insider information. That means give away intelligence, not intellectual property.
Don’t hit people over the head with a sales message. Remember: we’re all humans. People are what matters, not companies. And don’t forget to KISS.
Cartoon by Hugh Macleod
Good piece. I always love to pull out the Sun Tzu quote that sums up the tactics & strategy confusion: “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Before you KISS, I think you need to HUG — HAVE an UNDERSTANDING of the GROUP — prior to even determining your strategy you need to know what is being said about your brand. You need to not just listen to your target but to everyone. Possibly the online target is different than your offline target. Possibly you need to do reputation management before you do any kind of lead gen programs. I think that one step companies tend to overlook is the simplest. Sit back and survey the landscape, understand what you need to accomplish in this environment before you jump in.
I think this kind of approach wil help getting rid of the “social media expert” concept. Social Media is about conversation, not about technology and there can’t be “conversation experts”.
Let’s remember to keep it strategically simple, then!
K.I.S.S. is crucial in marketing. With marketers using social media portals blindly, we can often see how effective (or ineffective) their tactics are.
Isn’t it important for large companies to begin to experiment in the world of social media? It is a great way to market companies at a fraction of the cost. I feel that it is better that they are giving it a shot rather than keeping with antiquated marketing methods!
Each company needs to take a step back and take a look at how their audience would respond to them reaching out in the social media landscapes. This is important because there isn’t just one single approach that works. Sociology plays a big role in social media marketing.
Social media can definitely be a time waster if there’s no strategy in place. I agree with the HUG idea by Lisa…only after you read, understand, and participate in conversations on blog sites of those in your industry or group, can you even begin to think about promoting your own content.
This is so true, you need to have some sort of strategic plan to help you define the right avenues to pursue. If you don’t have a plan with measurable goals you won’t know how to use your marketing budget properly, and this will just be a waste of your time and money.
“Before you KISS, I think you need to HUG” Yah i agree with you Lisa Golloher.. I like your comment