The first step to your social media plan: gaining clarity on your businessBY NORMAN YEO
Social media have inevitably shaped the way companies interact with their clients and today more organisations, be it SMEs, MNCs or Non-Profit, have begun using Social Media as part of their marketing strategy.
All too often, we have companies who spent man-hours trying to figure out what should their social media plan be. Well, our answer to that is first, gain clarity on what your organisational goals and strategies are!
One important point to note is that, social media is just a marketing tool and just like other marketing tools such as TV advertising, Newspaper, direct mailers and etc, social media is meant to support your overall organisational goals.
To help you in determining your social media plans, let us start by asking ourselves some questions.
Organisation’s Social Media Objective:
Is there a specific business area you wish to focus on currently? (Internal social media policy, marketing, sales, customer service, public relation?)
What do you want to achieve out of the social media strategy?
How will your company measure success of the social media strategy?
Asking these questions will help set the base for your social media plan. Remember, social media strategy exists in various business functions; here are some of the examples –
Human Resource: Enforcing internal social media policy to educate employees on their social media usage.
Marketing: Establishing social media platforms to drive brand and product awareness, engaging the community to create a positive brand sentiment.
Sales: Introduce products and evoke purchase response.
Customer Service: Selectively making use of social media tool to engage in community feedbacks and actively directing them to the correct CSR channel.
Public Relations: Create brand stories on social media platforms with positive feedbacks from the customers, without forcing any purchase related information for these stories. Help to shape a brand presence online.
Specifying the focus you wish to place your strategy on will greatly support in your social media plans.
If we take an example, social media is commonly used in marketing strategies.
Current Marketing Strategy:
Who are your direct and indirect customers? (B2B or B2C?)
How do you provide our products/services to them? (Distribution Strategy)
How do you currently get new customers? (Promotion Strategy)
How do you keep in touch with our current clients? (Customer Relation Strategy)
At this point you may consider how asking these questions help in your social media plan. As mentioned earlier, social media is only a part of your marketing plan and understanding the marketing plan will allow you to plan your campaign to tie in with the rest of your strategies.
In more specifics, understanding who are your customers will help you in choosing the most appropriate social media platform, understanding your distribution strategy will help you in understanding the potential and limitation of your campaigns, understanding your promotional strategy will help in understanding how you can use social media to amplify the effect of your promotions and finally, understanding your customer relation strategy will help in formulating your plan on how to interact with them.
Social media plan:
After having a good picture of your organisation’s objective and marketing strategy, we get to the most exciting part which is laying the outline for your social media plan. To understand what a social media plan should consist of, we will break it down to components and explain it individually.
Measurement metrics chosen must be measurable and relates to organisation’s objective. Are you looking for new customers? Are you getting existing customers to repeat purchase? Or perhaps looking for an avenue to manage customer’s response? Ultimately, different objective will call for different metrics but do remember that the main benefit of social media is peer to peer rather than company to people communication.
Social media platform
Every social media platform has a different audience, atmosphere and content type. Choosing the platform where your customers congregate and setting the tone to communicate to them depends greatly on the platform you have chosen.
Content strategy is basically the type of information you release to your customers to get them interested and excited. Once again, knowing your customer becomes really important as you need to know what excites them and how can you get them to interact with you.
Campaigns are activities that are used to either acquire audience or interaction with the audience. There are various types of campaign used, however, your campaign is greatly affected by your distribution strategy and promotional strategy.
For example, if a company promotional strategy is to create multiple events, they can create campaigns that encourage the event participants to interaction with the social media platform by posting pictures of their participation at the event.
Finally, as the point about social media is getting your customer and audience to interact with you, response protocol becomes an essential part in your social media plan. A response protocol should cover the timeliness, tone and content on how you response to comments about your company, both negative and positive.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as a social media plan separated from the company objectives and strategy. Social media, like other business functions, needs to tie in with the other business strategy eventually.
Now, while this article does not tell you exactly what to do in each components, it give you an idea what to look out for in developing your plan and if you are to speak to a social media consultant at least now you know what to look out for.
Norman Yeo, Business Development Manager, The Chariots Creative Communications