Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Three Musts for Social Media Success

There is a comprehensive list of things that rarely influence the return on investment and ultimate success of a social media campaign. This list of irrelevance includes: Twitter, Reddit, Digg, Mixx, Flickr, Wordpress, Typepad, Blogger, Posterous, YouTube, LinkedIn, and…yes…even Facebook.

It’s not that these Web 2.0 offerings fail to deliver impact. In fact, they are critical when it comes to the execution of a digital program. However, they are merely tools which create a channel to connect with and engage key audiences. Success in social media is defined by strategy, believability and integration.

Let’s start with strategy. Like all other communications initiatives, corporate social media activities must begin with a discussion of and agreement on a set of measurable outcomes. These benchmarks should be aligned with the organization’s overall goals, especially when it comes to sales, profitability and valuation.

Makes sense, right? Social media is meaningful when you can point to how it drives the business forward in a measurable way.

Equally important is believability. A long-standing tenet of effective public relations is that perception is reality. However, image creation has to be based on the tangible beliefs and attributes of an organization and its employees.

Take Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) work for British Telecom (BT) and its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. BT leverages its commitment to sustainable business practices to solidify relationships with key stakeholders.

Yes…this is part of their customer engagement efforts. However, the company’s passion for CSR is genuine, resulting in a social media-driven dialogue that truly connects with audiences.

And finally, there is the issue of integration. Ideally, a commitment to social networking and digital communications should take hold among multiple groups within an organization allowing for the seamless sharing of resources. This seldom happens though.

Our experience teaches that pockets of innovation rise up with defined champions eager to put social media to work to the benefit of their specific objectives. We cherish these champions, yet make it a point to work with them to build internal awareness and support prior to the launch of a campaign.

In particular, solidifying a connection with the sales team is essential as they provide an avenue to reach customers and prospects, as well as channeling back ongoing feedback on the relevance and impact of our efforts.

So, the next time a colleague (or your boss) asks about the company’s use of Twitter or your activities in the blogosphere, challenge them to think about social media from the perspective of the three musts – strategy, believability and integration.


Corey Wood mb said...

What are the top 5 apps you advise clients to use when considering social networking? You seem a bit down on Twitter...have you found other more effective tools?

Appreciate the insight!

Marc Hausman said...

@Corey - thanks for the comment to this post.

Looks like my main point failed to resonate. I am not down on Twitter (in fact, I'm not...check me out at twitter.com/strategicguy) or most other Web 2.0 tools.

They are just that though -- tools. Success in social media begins with strategy, believability and integration. The tools are merely part of the execution.

Davina Brewer said...

Agree about the Web 2.0 Tools of the Trade. Linking your Facebook page with your Twitter feed is not enough. Learning how to use the tools per a researched, detailed plan is what’s important. Measurable objectives, what you will get from SM initiative, are a key part of any integrated strategy.

I would add credibility, responsibility, and adaptability. It is an ongoing campaign, so the Strategic Plan cannot be ignored, but must also adapt and change as does the market and SM. FWIW.

Mark said...

So let's say you "just don't see it" for the use of social media, Web 2.0, or whatever. Does that make one a Luddite? Or merely "out of it?"

In the rush to use one or all of these new tools, oftentimes at the urgent "suggestion" of management ("Fad-surfing, anyone?"), more thought needs to be given to what the strategic/tactical purpose(s) may be. Marc is entirely correct in calling them tools that need to be subservient to thought about their application.

I've done some guest blogging (under a nom d guerre) and I'm on FB and LI, and I pretty much "get" social media, but I just don't see Twitter as being my thing, esp. in the absence of a firm rationale for using it. I also think it's potentially a huge time-suck to rush to "keep up with the Whomevers."

All of this is a long winded way of saying, "What's the damn rush?" and to introduce this item I came across today, thanks to the Nat'l Assn of Gov't Webmasters: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/cs/2009/08/dont_keep_up_with_social_techn.html