Back in the day before I was married, I was a serial dater of the worst kind. Notorious for my inability to commit past the two-month mark, I was a bit of an aimless wanderer when it came to men. I didn’t know what I was looking for in a relationship and, as a result, didn’t know how to make one work. Because I was never truly vested. Dating was just something to keep me occupied. Something I felt compelled to do because, well, that’s just what you do when you’re in your early twenties.
(Bear with me as I execute a horribly lame analogy…)
This is not unlike how many businesses approach social media. (I warned you) I think at this point, most businesses recognize the importance of social media… but few understand the impact that it can have on their business. As a result, most businesses are not truly vested. They struggle with figuring out how to make social media work for them in a meaningful way. In other words, they’ve got a Facebook page and post the occasional blurry photograph or lackluster status update, but can’t seem to wrap their minds around creating a cohesive strategy.
I find it helpful to think of social strategy in the following framework:
Because the way that we “market” and interact with customers has been radically altered, I firmly believe that every organization needs a social media program (whether it’s supported by a team of 50 or two). Within that program, you’ll have broad categories that focus your efforts (represented by the blue pillars in the image). For example, because the signal-to-noise ratio is not in marketers’ favor, you’ll require a monitoring plan to listen and respond to “noise” in the social sphere.
Now, I am not purporting that these areas are the “right” ones for all. They happen to be the right ones for my current organization. Admittedly, this is a pretty formal structure, but it still allows us to be nimble (my social media team is comprised of three people). I understand that small businesses may want to examine something even more fluid. Brands’ frameworks will all be at least slightly different (e.g., highly regulated industries may need an area around Governance).
Each category will produce a variety of deliverables. For example, your engagement (or social CRM) initiatives might yield your organization’s social media policy, a content calendar or a variety of other tools to help you navigate the landscape. These deliverables are what you as a social media team will produce ongoingly, independent of marketing campaigns that require a social component.
(Note: this is where a lot of people get confused. I often hear brands say, ‘We need a content calendar and a crisis plan and a social media policy…’ Instead of rattling off a checklist of catch-phrase social tools you’ve heard mentioned or have read about, think in terms of the broad categories and which ones apply to the social “stuff” your team will “do.” Then, decide what you want the output of those categorical areas to be. Not every brand will require a social media policy, for example. So, those deliverables should be unique to your industry and to your organization.)
Spanning across each of these categories is what I like to refer to as the “BAU” crap (business as usual). You know – what you must execute upon daily just to keep your social presence fresh. In my opinion, this is one of the ONLY pieces of your social media program that can be outsourced. (But that’s another blog entry for another day!)
That’s the social media program – the basic structure that will allow you to operate. Do not confuse social channels (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) and tactics (e.g., location-based promotion) with the functional categories of your program. For example: let’s say you’re running a Foursquare promotion. Yes, this is a part of how you engage with your customers… but it is NOT a deliverable from the “Engagement” category. You are only running that promotion because doing so directly supports a business or marketing objective. Ideally – and if your program is structured correctly – any social tactic that you employ will jibe with one or more of those program areas.
Bottom line: your program should provide you with the structure to accomplish social best practices (e.g., give you a process/mechanism for responding to crises and customer complaints) while supporting business and marketing objectives through campaign-specific strategies.