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Direct & Integrated Marketing Roundtable

Monday, August 20, 2012

Commonsense Approach to Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix

In the course of getting a Social Media strategy up and running for any brand, a myriad of questions will undoubtedly arise.  Many marketers approach the Social Media channel timidly, for fear of making a mistake. 

 
Other marketers assume that since the cost of developing a Facebook page lacks a subscription fee, (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts are free) that the social media channel is a kind of “throw away” and delegate the responsibility of establishing a social presence to a relatively junior member of their staff, and then just kind of forget about it.

Needless to say, both of these approaches fail to fully leverage the power that is inherent in the social media channel.  The power of the channel is, of course, the traffic.  With so many consumers spending so much time in social media, the traffic generated makes a compelling case that all businesses need to explore the social channel and define how it can work for them.  This isn’t to say that the answer will be apparent immediately, but, like the early days of the World Wide Web, there was a huge learning curve on the design and utilization of websites.  There is similarly a learning curve to leveraging social, and it requires a bit of common sense, and some ongoing attention.

Probably the most logical way to think about the social channel, and perhaps the most straightforward way to use it, is to think about it in the context of other marketing channels that you are using, and design your social activities to synergize with your other activities.  While this approach is logical, companies who employ a junior member of the marketing team to man the social media responsibilities alone, will probably not see adequate thought or effort into making sure each Facebook post, or Tweet has a clear purpose in the context overall marketing communication.

What follows is a set of commonsense rules to Integrating Social Media into your Marketing Mix.

Rule 1.  Align your Social Media editorial calendar with your promotional calendar.    
Most marketers are aware of the need to have a promotional calendar to manage key marketing related activities: media buys, product launches, management of inventory and fulfillment, but many fail to see that Social Media should be in part informed by these promotional activities as well.  Why? Because  the consumer expectation, in the Social Channel, is that there should be some recognition or knowledge from the channel that other activities or promotions are occurring.  Messaging upcoming events to consumers in social provides your most loyal consumers with the opportunity to be on the alert for a key event, and gives them the benefit of knowing about something ahead of less loyal consumers, thus rewarding their loyalty.  The benefit to the marketer is that when the promotional period does arrive, it will be more successful due to the advance messaging directly to those loyal fans and followers.

Rule 2. Establish the goals for the promotion and for the Social Channel.   
For each promotion a marketer typically develops a forecasted outcome of what the promotion will do.  The social channel is really no different.  What is different about social, is that, depending on how long you have been at it, and what tactics you have tried, there may be little baseline from which to gauge what a particular tactic will deliver.  Thus a marketer is in need of careful measurement, both in social, and across the entire online presence.

Rule 3.  Integrate social fully with all of your other marketing strategies.   
This may appear repetitive, but a full integration of social with other marketing strategies means:
  • In each email communication to consumers, Highlight your brand’s presence on Facebook, you give a consumer a chance to “Like” you in the email.  

  • On the brand’s website remind a consumer to like you on Facebook.  If there are sign up pages for coupons or other information, give a consumer a chance to connect with Facebook from your website.  Give consumers a chance to follow you on Twitter.  Be prepared to engage in a dialogue with them especially if they tweet to your handle directly.
  • On your Facebook page and Twitter page, provide your website URL.  If a Facebook post or a Tweet mentions an opportunity or offer at the website, include a link to the appropriate page to facilitate the traffic.
  • On print and broadcast campaigns indicate your presence in the social channel with the Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest logos. 
  • Include details about website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. on includes product packaging if possible.
  • Consider the value of a You Tube channel for your brand.  Videos provide high engagement and are among the most popular content on the web. 
In summary, a consumer will expect that all of the channels work together, and the messaging, and branding will be consistent no matter where they encounter your brand.  To encourage engagement with a brand, social media is an excellent way to foster loyalty among consumers.

Rule 4.  Read your results routinely, methodically, and comprehensively. 
Every marketer has Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they read to assess the effectiveness of their tactics.  Success in social media is more than the number of “Likes” or the number of re-tweets.
Going back to the goals that you established for social, think about if over a particular promotional period whether the goal was to get likes on the Facebook page, or increase sales, or web traffic. 
If our goal is to get likes on Facebook, presumably the result can be read in the social KPIs, but the drive to get likes may have been in an email campaign.  To understand how the effort worked, we need to look at the email campaign that was facilitating the drive to Facebook, and the increase in likes coincident with the campaign.  

If we are using Twitter to increase sales, we will want to read the number of web visitors who were referred by our Tweets, and made purchases.  So the appropriate metrics here would be re-tweets, and the amount of traffic referred by Twitter.  In other words, since consumers are moving in and out of Facebook and Twitter, and between your website and Google, you need to be more expansive in your view of your KPIs especially when a campaign is in process.  Google Analytics makes it so easy to see these social referrals out of the box as the example report shows below.


Rule 5.  Organize results into a consolidated dashboard.   
It is not productive for every functional area to build a dashboard for the measurement of their own departmental goals.  Marketing is a team effort in the sense that a website, email campaign, social media, and offline efforts may all be handled by different groups.  It may be the case that not all of these groups are even organized under the marketing function.  If all marketing efforts are to be maximized then they must work together.  It is difficult for the efforts to synergize if each person only has visibility into their own component of the marketing communications.  That’s why a consolidated dashboard is a must.    A consolidated dashboard is an effective way for everyone to adopt a common vision for the business.  It shows the folks sending out emails how they influence web traffic, and how Facebook “likes” spike when all of the messaging is going on at the same time.  See the example below for a ficticious marketer of movies.

Rule 6.  Synthesize results and build knowledge.   
This seems really basic, but unfortunately as the new marketing communication strategy, many organizations are operating under the assumption that Social Media should be spontaneous, in-the-moment, unplanned, unfettered by other controls that are put in place for other forms of customer communication.  This is simply not true.  When you begin aligning all trends in a common dashboard, and the social media team begins studying the events that led to last week’s huge spike in likes, shares or retweets, the natural instinct should be to internalize the technique and try to replicate it.  A knowledge base should build to inform ongoing strategies.  This build of the knowledge base should develop into a process that allows for the social media manager to build on successes and expand communication strategies cautiously over time.  

Think of attributing each communication so a database can be built whereby you can assess the time of day, the call to action, the type of post, etc.  So that you can begin to read what your loyal followers are most responsive to.  In addition, begin to understand the cadence so you aren’t boring your fans with the same kinds of posts all the time.  

When you have developed your social media strategies, and are operating it with the care and discipline that is attendant to all other marketing communications, you will be in a position to dive deeper into the consumer relationships and even develop strategies to leverage influencers.  But before you can harness the influencers, make sure you have your infrastructure set up, a good dashboard, and a method to track the response based on the attributes of your communications.

I hope this commonsense approach has been helpful.  I am always happy to assist clients in getting their social campaigns on track.  Please feel free to contact me in the event I can help you.(Rhonda@drakedirect.com).

Rhonda Knehans Drake & Perry D. Drake

6 comments:

  1. Great post, Rhonda. Some excellent points in there especially about measuring the KPI's for each channel.

    Also, I like the background pic you chose for the Blogger template. Looks nice!

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  2. Thanks Noah. I appreciate your feedback. You have a good perspective on the digital space.

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  3. Great way to increase traffic to a chief your business objective by integrate all the back up channels to your website , the challenge its need to be done in intelligent way and the right support team

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  4. Tholfikar, I agree, the right support team is essential in achieving the business objective, but let's remember the statement of the objective at the outset of a campaign is also mandatory.

    One thing that distinguishes the current marketing practices from the days that predate the online space is that now, we need to coordinate much more because more people are involved in making the website, search strategy and social media strategy work together. Everyone needs to be on the same page with respect to their role so that all pieces work together.

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  5. It is very rare these days to find blogs that provide information someone is looking for. I am glad to see that your blog share valued information that can help to many readers. Thanks and keep writing!
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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the feedback. I hope you become an ongoing follower, and feel free to ask questions or suggest future topics!

      Rhonda Drake

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