Guest Post by Jason Falls
We’ve reached a maturity level in social media marketing that has been a long time coming. Companies and brands are no longer approaching the web and all of its social connections and technologies with the sandbox approach. The tide began turning about nine months ago. CEOs, marketing directors and more stopped saying, “we want a blog,” or “we want a Facebook page,” and started asking for social media strategies to drive sales, enhance their brand awareness or facilitate customer service.
Attacking social media marketing from a tactical point of view only gets you tactical results. Yes, you can put lots of effort and energy into your Facebook brand page, but the metrics you’re going to see if you don’t connect those dots from tactical execution to strategic business purpose are limited. Fans or followers, comments or shares. That’s it.
When you approach Facebook (or a blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) with a holistic and strategic purpose, you don’t ask, “How can we get more people to like our page?” Rather you focus on questions like, “How can we drive more sales from our Facebook audience.”
But in order to focus on social media marketing as a strategic business driver you have to understand what social media marketing can do for your business. Then you have to understand the strategic planning process. Knowing both helps you plan, execute, measure and even report more effectively.
What Social Media Marketing Can Do For Your Business
Diving into the waters of social media without first knowing what the possibilities are is like wandering through the woods without a compass, map or even trail to follow. Sooner or later, you’re going to get disoriented and lost. In my experience, clients have identified seven major business drivers for social media marketing. These serve as the possibilities. They are:
- Enhancing Branding and Awareness
- Protecting Your Reputation
- Extending Public Relations
- Building Community
- Enhancing Customer Service
- Facilitating Research and Development
- Driving Sales or Leads
Each has their own business purpose and can lead to significant accomplishments for businesses and brands. I use these seven categories to level-set expectations and goals for the companies and clients I work with. “Which of these areas do you want to focus on with your social media efforts?” “Are any of your current weak points represented by these categories?’
From there, we select a goal or goals and begin the strategic planning process.
Strategic Planning Basics
The strategic planning process goes as follows:
- Establish Goals
- Develop measurable objectives
- Enact strategies which help accomplish the objectives
- Execute tactics that accomplish the strategies.
Executing that process is easier said that done, but it only involves working backwards — accomplish the tactics which achieve the strategies that fuel the objectives that accomplish the goals.
The challenge is getting your focus out of the tactical weeds. Foursquare, Twitter, YouTube … none are strategic focal points. Engagement, sales, customer service, lead generation … these are all strategic focal points. What are you trying to accomplish with social media marketing? Place your focus there and you can start to see clarity in decision-making, execution with a purpose, and even measurement and reporting that keeps bosses happy and businesses empowered.
From operationalizing social media across the organization to using social media data for business insights, we’re going to dive deep into social media marketing from a strategic perspective at Explore Dallas-Fort Worth on Feb. 17 at Union Station Dallas. We’ll present brand case studies, get insights from real-world practitioners driving business (not just likes and follows) with social media marketing. We’ll have a state of journalism in the social world panel discussion for public relations professionals and enjoy a fireside chat with Chris Baccus of AT&T to see how the communications giant is tackling everything from managing social media internally to handling detractors online.
We’d be honored if you joined us. It’s a full day of learning social media marketing from a strategic perspective and is sure to help drive your business forward. Register now and use the code MARKETINGSPOT to get 50% off the ticket price!
Jason Falls is an author, speaker and CEO of Social Media Explorer. One of the top 10 influencers in social media according to Forbes, Falls hosts Explore, a five-city social media and digital marketing learning event, around the country. Find him on Twitter at @JasonFalls.