Well hello! I’ve been developing some new methodologies and materials for the upcoming book, so I wanted to share this with you before it becomes wildly popular and Fortune Magazine is beating down the door on my 45′ yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean (They must have snorkeled or something?) to cover the topic.
However… back in the real world, New Year is already under way and business planning is chugging along. I feel this year will be a key when it comes to social media and integrated marketing. I mean, we’ve all heard hordes of consultants, speakers, authors and media harping on and on about it and I think it’s time to move into the WTH do I do now phase. To answer that question, below you’ll find a 4.5 step method to developing a social media strategy that integrates with your business goals and flows in nicely with your other marketing efforts.
Before you read the rest of this article, I would suggest having a gander at the Strategy vs Tactics article published just a little while ago, to bring us all up to the same page. That being said, let’s quit beating around the bush and get to work!
STEP 1: The WHY
Before we even begin to think about the Facebooks, Twitters, YouTubes and such of the world, we need to know the answer to one question. WHY. This will be your homing beacon, a direction in which your tactics will move you.
Take out a sheet of paper and give your self three columns to work with, starting at one item per row. First column will describe where you are now. Second column will describe where you’d like to be in a few years (Let’s say three years for starters), and the third column will give you a chance to prove to yourself this is a point worth pursuing. Confused? How about an example?
Got it? This is a time to trim the fat and useless “strategic goals” that do nothing for your business. Let’s get real and keep it simple. Good god, keep it simple. No use trying to squeeze 378 items or strategic goals and getting mind-blocked by the sheer volume in front of you. Pick three.
STEP 2: The WHO
Now that we figured out which items, or strategic goals, are most important, let’s think about who is most likely to make that happen for us. To solve this part of the puzzle, I will often take clients through a marketing persona building exercise. Basically, we want to build a fictitious person who represents our ideal target market. When you start building your persona, think ideal. Think your best customers who are easy to work with, pay on time and tend to stay with your company.
Ready? Here are the components of a simple, effective persona:
Name – Make up a name for your ideal customer.
Age – Based on your experience or assumptions, what age (NOT age range) would your ideal customer be?
Occupation – This will help us start to understand our audience better and may lead to smarter channel and message selection. A stay-at-home mom uses different touchpoints then a high-power lawyer working downtown.
Attributes – These are physical-world assumptions about our persona. Items such as what kind of house they may live in, what kind of car they may drive, do they have children, etc.
Attitudes – Focused on personality traits, attitudes will describe our persona in relatable fashion. For example: professional, likes to socialize with neighbors, thinks highly of designer fashion, etc.
Image – This piece ties everything together and just makes it more real. A great source for images may be Flickr, Google Images or www.sxc.hu. Keep in mind these are not to be distributed or sold, but just used internally, so be aware of licences and usage restrictions. Find a person that looks like your ideal customer.
As an example, I built a downloadable PDF for your reference. Click here to download the marketing persona sample worksheet.
Once you have your persona built, it’s now becoming clear which channels and which messages will speak to them. Keep in mind that you can have several personas representing different markets you wish to reach.
STEP 3: The WHAT
This is the glue that ties your ideal audience to your business. It’s also the message part of our puzzle. We figured out whom we need to talk to and what our goals are. Based on that, we can make some assumptions. For example if you wanted to sell farm equipment to a rural farmer, a message would have a very different tone then if you were trying to sell baby carriages to downtown moms. For example, if we wanted to sell muffins to Judy (from the example persona), we may use a message along the lines of: “Quick organic snack for those on the GO!”
Developing a message is a key component to building a strategy and it may manifest itself in many iterations. However, let’s just stick with one for now and you can develop more once you start working on your own. In terms of how to develop a message, there are many fantastic resources in branding and marketing books such as Being Direct, Purple Cow or Creative Advertising (Awesome, awesome book!).
STEP 4: The HOW
Thinking back to our persona, we can make some more assumptions (or commissioned research if you prefer?) about which channels they are most likely to use. In Judy’s case, it would be safe to assume that she is active on Facebook and may watch an online video or two if forwarded to her. She also has an interest in cooking, which means she may read a cooking blog or look for a recipe online from time to time.
This leads us to channel selection. In this particular case, I may suggest building a blog that would speak about cooking or organic living topics, support it with a Facebook business page and run Facebook and Google ads as a third line of reach.
Make your own conclusions based on the person you wish to reach and your business objectives. Choosing Twitter to reach a hockey mom might be a harder then reaching her with a hockey mom blog for example.
STEP 4.5: …AND THEN
Now that we have the puzzle pieces in place…I’d like you to do one final check. Remember the WHY question in the first step? Do that again here and make sure that your outlined strategy is in line with business objectives. Often, this means looking at next steps right after a campaign. For example, if you ran an ad campaign on Facebook to garner followers, what will you do with them after? How do you plan to keep them engaged while still inching towards your THEN statement in the first step?
There you have it… a four and a half step method to begin building your social media strategy. Of course, knowing which tools and channels to use is half the battle and there’s no better way to really find out then hopping in yourself. No amount of speeches about Twitter or blogs can really illustrate the feel of truly connecting with others.
[plus1]That’s it for now… I’ll see you online! Also, if you liked the article, please help spread the word by sharing it on Facebook or using the Tweet button to the right :) Thank you muchly (that’s right… I said muchly)!
Ernest // @ebarbaric
NOTE: This is the second part of an article written for IABC’s Newsletter, CW Bulletin. It has been expanded for this blog.