Clients ask me frequently, “How can I integrate social media with my other channels and deliver real, measurable results?” There are some best practices, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach: A multichannel marketing strategy that works for one business may be a colossal bust for another. But there are some basic how-tos that will help you integrate social media in a meaningful way. Here are five things to consider.
1. Outline your business objectives first, then consider where social media fits into your strategy
“We need to do social media” should never be the reason for a campaign. Nor should your social strategy be an afterthought. If you determine that social media makes sense from a business perspective, make sure you understand which channel(s) will work in concert with the rest of your media mix to provide an optimized customer experience.
A word of caution: Social media is not free. It takes time and consistent effort. You have to allocate an incremental budget. If you can’t afford to do it consistently, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. (See point #3.)
2. Know where your target audience likes to play
Using a social media listening tool can provide great insight into what people are saying about your brand and where they’re saying it. Listening will help you determine which platforms to focus on and what your customers want to hear, read and discuss. It will also help you better determine the marketing spend that should go into each platform.
3. Map out a social media content plan for the year and stick to it
There’s nothing worse than clicking the Facebook link in a company’s banner ad only to find a page with no community and content from last year. The beauty of social media is that it’s a dialogue with flexibility and room for change. But it’s key to maintain and initiate conversation on a regular basis.
When you tiptoe into the waters of social media, you become a publisher. It’s more than tweets and status updates. You may also be hosting interactive contests and Tweetchats, writing blogs and white papers, and more. A basic editorial calendar will help you manage and schedule content appropriately.
4. Define how you’re going to measure success
Don’t let anyone tell you that social media marketing efforts aren’t measurable. This book by Olivier Blanchard, titled “Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization,” might provide a few thought-starters. Remember, it ain’t about the number of “likes.” Depending on your objectives, you might want to look at share of conversation or number of comments or click-throughs to measure engagement; in the customer service arena, you might look at cost per issue resolution.
5. Test, test, test
Attribution analysis is a must with multichannel campaigns. Keep testing to see which combination delivers the most efficient bang for your buck and eliminate the poor performers.
As you think about integrating social media into your marketing mix, keep in mind: Social media is just people having conversations. People have always communicated this way. What’s different now is the sheer volume of the Internet. Yes, that makes the potential risks larger … but it also makes the potential rewards huge, as more and more brands are discovering. Try these five tips, and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of a socially integrated multichannel program that delivers a better customer experience.