Before you get into social media ask yourself this
Since I think 2009 will be the year people really get serious about social media, this is my official list. Did I miss anything?
Why now? A bad economy? Because social media is free? This question should have an answer better than “everyone else is doing it”. Not everyone is doing it. And even if they are, not everyone is doing it well or with purpose. And thus, they are throwing good money away. In the 90’s, clients got websites because that’s what everyone was doing. How’s your website these days? Are you happy with it?
2. Set a goal.
This should easily evolve from the first question. And since social media campaigns are often on free media, the goals need to be long term. For example, if the company starts a blog, where will it be in 2 years? How about 5? What’s the short-term goal, and what’s the long-term goal? And while you’re sitting figuring this out, write up some goals for your website as well. A marketing initiative without a goal is a waste of money.
It was hard to decide if this should be second or third. Call this 2a. As people increase the amount of things that they share each month, there will be an increasing amount of chatter out there about your brand, your competitor, or your category. I’m never surprised by the small communities I see online. I was once looking up information for an Electric Razor client and found the Electric Razor Hall of Fame.
To begin listening, start with a Google blog alert. Add a Twitter search. Add some social bookmarking services like Digg, Delicious. See if there are people out there talking about your brand, or your competitors, or your category. Think broad. If you sell Painter’s Tape, think about people sharing their before and after shots of rooms they renovate. 2009 will be the year where listening products come out. At our agency, we’ve invested time and money to build our own proprietary listening program. We think it’s that critical.
To put it plainly, social media is different than traditional media. Traditional media doesn’t demand an investment. If ad agencies wanted to run an ad on the TV, the people involved in the project didn’t have to be fans of the show. They just needed to know who watched it. These days, if we want to run a social media campaign in Facebook, we better understand why people use it. If during the listening process you see a vibrant conversation going on about your brand in the comments on Digg, then join Digg. Not so you can join that conversation, but so you can understand why people are talking on it.
5. Will you enter a community or start one?
This is really a question that will come out of the goal, but it’s an important one to ask. If hundreds of people are talking about your brand in Facebook, then it’s not a bad idea to join the Facebook community. However, if the brand doesn’t have as much of a cult-like following, then it means working a little harder to give fans a voice. Some examples of starting a community include, Ning, starting a blog, turning the website into the community hub. (Remember, you have a goal for your website — this could be part of it.)
6. Each tool requires its own content.
Clearly, the TV script is different from the direct mail letter. That’s not different in social media. The tool (or tools) you decide on need to be part of the story at the beginning, not an extension of the TV script. Putting a 30-second spot on YouTube isn’t creating a social media campaign. I’m not saying it’s the wrong thing to do, I’m just saying that each medium involves different thinking. A 30-second TV spot is interruptive. And thus, the beginning has to get attention. When someone goes to YouTube and clicks on a spot, it wasn’t because it was attention getting, it was because it was attention sharing.
In other words, it compelled someone to share it with a friend. TV spots used to try to compel people to talk about them at the water cooler. Now, they should try to get shared, if the goal is to place them on a video sharing site. And that’s a different mindset.
Each tool demands a little different thinking. And since you joined them back on point 4, you’ll understand those differences.
7. Don’t ask for the order.
Online, the customer is tantalizingly close to a place where they can make a purchase. A few clicks and the product could be right in front of them. So why not ask them to click? Well, social media is about brand engagement. If a brand continually asks for the order, people will stop engaging. No one wants to talk to someone who is constantly telling to click, buy, or look.
8. Be patient.
This one kind of goes with the one above. Social media isn’t about one night stands. It’s a sustained campaign. If the client is looking for quick hits, or ‘something viral’, then you’re in for some frustration.
Social media isn’t a stand along marketing tool. It’s part of the marketing toolbox. Throw all the brands marketing on the table and see if it has the same voice. See if it’s saying the same thing. If it isn’t, fix that.
10. Encourage people to talk back.
This could be anything from soliciting user-generated content, to simply asking for opinions or reviews. Let people be honest, even in their criticism. If someone says the brand isn’t doing something, listen with an open mind. it might not be doing something. That’s a good chance to fix it. This is all part of listening actively. But really, have a plan for the people who will find your campaign and tell you how bad of a job you’re doing. Someone recently commented on this blog that my ideas where worthy of an 8-year old.
11. Be prepared to respond.
Think about it this way: You’re walking down the hall at work and a passing co-worker says hi. If you completely ignore them, that’s a social taboo. In social media, if you ignore someone who says hi, it’s also a social taboo. So talk back.
12. It’s marketing.
Social media is not a shiny new thing anymore. You can’t just start a blog and get hits because blogs are cool. You can’t simply start a Twitter feed and expect things to simply work out because of the positive press. We were able to get some press last summer when we launched a Facebook Page for a client. The press won’t be writing about new pages anymore. Now we have to figure two important things out:
Why will people come to our community?
Why will they come back?
Figure that out, and you’ll win in 2009.