The Five Must-Haves of Building an Integrated Social Media Plan

So how do marketing professionals take the reins and steer a cohesive, integrated social media marketing plan? I had the pleasure of presenting to a group of local marketers at a recent IABC Phoenix Luncheon on the topic of building a cohesive social media marketing plan. Here, I lay out five must-haves when building an integrated social media plan.

You start by understanding your marketing and content marketing model well enough to integrate social media practices and tools into the overall program. That takes good internal planning. My “5 Must Haves of Social Media Marketing” will help you get there. These must-haves are:

1. Shifting + Controlling of Consumers and Audiences

2. Planning with Internal + External Customers in Mind

3. Aligning + Orchestrating Integrated Content Strategy

4. Executing as a Team

5. Measuring Impact to Business with Focus

All In! Betting On Your Content Marketing Strategy

Blog originally posted in BtoB Magazine – BtoB Blog: Defining Your Content Strategy

Where are you spending your marketing dollars? If it’s not in content marketing, then you should reconsider. Content marketing remains a top priority for marketers in 2012. This, according to a popular study published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs titled “B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends.” The study reports that nine out of 10 organizations market with content marketing. However, content marketing strategy should not be developed in a vacuum. It must become a company-wide initiative—aligning content with corporate goals and key messaging and supporting your go-to-market strategic plans with key stakeholders.

Below are some key recommendations to get started.

Define Your Content Strategy Goal

What are your corporate goals for the next two to three years? How do you want to define and position your company in the market? The answers will serve as the compass to your content strategy and your brand story. In addition, you should also understand who your audience is, where they are in their buying journey, their pain points and key addressable markets.

Understand Your Target Audience

Who are your buyers, and what are their personas, roles, etc.? Where do they go to find information about products and services before making a purchasing decision? What are the most popular media they visit? How active are they in social media, blogs, discussion forums, etc.? What types of pain points are they faced with? Without understanding the fundamentals of your target audience—types of content they’re looking for in the various stages of the purchasing cycle—your content strategy will fall flat. For example, if your target audience is IT buyers but the decision makers are CIOs, then you must map your messaging and content strategy to meet the needs of your audience. Tailor your content with your audience in mind.

Prioritize Your Marketing Tactics

Marketers are resource-constrained, and it’s easy to focus on a bunch of tactics rather than smart marketing. By polling your target audience and understanding who they are and where they are in the various stages of the buying cycle, you can minimize the time spent and cycles focusing on the wrong tactics, wrong messaging and the wrong audience. Get laser-focused.

Find out what are the top five events your target audience attends every year, the top five publications they read, the top five blogs they subscribe to, the top five influencers they follow, top analyst firms they go to for referrals, etc. Information is the new currency, and by knowing where your audience turns to for information, you can prioritize your marketing tactics and align your content strategy accordingly.

Implement a Powerful Content Architecture

Now that you have all this information at your fingertips, you can create a powerful content strategy that aligns with your goals, tailor it for the right audience and execute across the right marketing channels using the tactics that will have the most impact. Build a brand story that has multiple levels of content to support your story and messaging. Then mobilize your marketing team to execute using the right content to educate, inform and build engagement with your audience. Brand storytelling through great content is the key ingredient and should be the focus for any marketer today.

Plan with the Right Execution in Mind

With the wealth of data at your fingertips, you can establish content that can meet the needs of your audience. Then look at the different methods of disseminating content across different marketing channels to tell your story and engage with your audience.

Additional Resources:

Content Marketing Institute & Marketing Profs – B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends

YouTube – Coca Cola Content 2020 Part Two

Jeff Bullas – 5 Lessons From Coca Cola Content Marketing Strategy

Altimeter Group – Content Marketing. Content Strategy. What’s the Difference?

The Marketing Journalist Blog – Why Content Alone Cannot Rule the Kingdom

Adapt or Vanish: 5 Ways to Integrate PR and Social Media

I recently gave a talk at a Businesswire seminar here in Phoenix on Adapt or Vanish: 5 Killer Tips to Integrate PR and Social Media. The introduction of social media has changed the playing field for PR professionals. PR is no longer relegated to drafting press releases and bylined articles. Today, PR pros support business goals, connect and support customers, amplify demand-generation efforts, and take social listening to a whole new level to move the company’s brand forward.  This presentation is a call to arms to all PR pros out there to move outside their comfort zone and adopt more advanced techniques to help them strategize and execute successful, integrated campaigns that reach far beyond just PR.  

This presentation outlines key strategies to help PR pros make an impact and work across functional marketing areas to raise the profile of their company, brand, message and campaigns.

  • How to use social media to build and connect influencers
  • How to utilize social in your PR efforts in real time
  • How to integrate social into your demand-gen program and outreach
  • How to integrate social into your events to amplify voice and reach
  • How to build listening mechanisms to support and energize your community

Stop Bad Interviews From Happening To Good People

D’oh! Ah, the famous saying by our beloved Homer Simpson. It’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I see a bad interview. Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton, and a slew of others have fallen victim to bad interviews, including business spokespeople. You could be the most charismatic person on this planet but one bad interview could become a train wreck for you and your company as well as your stocks.

Why do bad interviews happen to good people? The reason behind that – bad prep work by PR folks who are missing the mark when it comes to media training. The second part to this is the willingness of the spokesperson to take the time to brief, research, and prepare. Media training isn’t about just going over the dos and don’ts of media interviews but it’s about understanding your key messages, delivery, authenticity, and knowing your audience.

Also, with information traveling at the speed of light, it’s important that you’re doing your job to control the message from your end by keeping it short and simple with 3-4 key messages being delivered. Anything negative could go viral in matter of seconds. Then the control is no longer yours.  You’re doing damage control at that point. Why let it get to that point. Avoid the backlash.

The media landscape might have changed but  the fundamentals of understanding and communicating your message are the same.  It’s up to the PR professional to really lay the foundation and groundwork for the media spokesperson to be adequately briefed – this includes who you’re speaking to and what you’re going to talk about. This presentation lays out the steps and key essentials necessary to win in today’s digital world. Let me know what you think and if you agree. 

 

Welcome to the Dark Side of Social Media

It wasn’t too long ago when companies were chomping at the bit to adopt social media as part of their overall organizational and communication strategy. I can’t blame them – it was all the rage. Blogs and news were abuzz with why and how companies would fall behind if they didn’t jump on the social media bandwagon. Major world-class brands and small companies alike couldn’t get enough of social media – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. Well, the time has come when we see the dark side of social media. That is, engagement and open communication are being taken to new heights – outside of our control. As with all good things, we have reached a point with social media where we must look at not just the good, but also the bad and the ugly.

A few months back, Nestle took a nasty hit when Greenpeace UK turned against the giant nutrition, health and wellness company, posting a provocative YouTube video calling into question Nestle’s methods for acquiring palm oil. The online attack didn’t stop there. The Greenpeace group launched a full-blown social media attack against Nestle, posting negative comments on the company’s sites and forcing Nestle to answer Greenpeace’s questions. Weeks after the social media backlash, Nestle announced a “non-deforestation” policy in partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT).

Most recently, Intel, one of the largest manufacturers in the electronics industry, was attacked by activists opposed to minerals mining in the Congo. Opponents initiated an attack on Intel’s Facebook page, challenging Intel to pledge its support for a congressional bill that would restrict the import of “conflict minerals” that contribute to fighting in the war-torn country. Intel is highly reliant on a range of minerals. The company, per its long-standing Facebook moderation policy, took down posts they deemed to be “spam” and closed comments for a very brief period, which they reopend shortly after after realizing the significance of the issue. (Per clarification from Intel’s social media strategist Kelly Ripley Feller, Intel did issue an apology immediately following). Please take a moment to read Intel’s blog. For more details on this issue, I would recommend reading Fail to Understand Social Media by Torben Rick.

What now? While most companies may understand the value of social media, what these real-world cases have shown us is that transparency, engagement, communication and open dialogue come with a price. Before you jump on the social media bandwagon, companies must first look internally and look at pros/cons of social media and adopt a social media crisis management policy. Remember – both good and bad news can travel at lightning speed – especially in this social Web 2.0 age. Today, companies that use social media must have a sound policy in place not just for social media but crisis management policy that can help you address these challenges head on.

  • Social Media and Crisis Management Policy

Every company using social media should have a policy in place that includes best practices and dos and don’ts that align with your organizational strategy. Further, companies also need to incorporate crisis management policy that demonstrates the key steps in case a crisis should occur. We call this a social media response plan. This should entail your company’s plans step by step from gathering information to when and how company representatives should respond. 

  • Continuous Monitoring Process

Listening is a discipline – even in the social mediasphere. Every company should have a monitoring process in place to understand who’s talking about your brand, services and products at all times. Daily Twitter search, Bloglines, etc. should be used to monitor your brand every day and flag all positive and negative conversations around your brand. This way, you’re not reacting but can have the upper hand in preparing your Rapid Response Strategy. To do this well, your company should have a list of all the social media channels you’re tracking on a daily basis and share a daily, weekly and monthly social media index.

  • Influencing the Influencers

Your Rapid Response Strategy should include a running list of all your influencers and where they are most active across all social media channels. This way, you can reach out directly to them with your final response or message. This is assuming you have an ongoing relationship with them, which you should, to help extend the brand and message.

  • Rapid Response Plan

This plan is crucial and should reach across your executives, experts, spokesperson(s), PR teams and communication agencies. This outlines your external strategy for responding to the media and social media channels if necessary and explains the process when a crisis occurs, how you’re going to work across teams to cultivate your message and distribute it both internally and externally, including to traditional media outlets.

  • Communication Strategy

While you may be focused on engaging the social media/online communities with your rapid response, don’t forget your employees, partners, shareholders and customers. If a company fails to alert the internal teams (employees), shareholders, partners and customers, it can further damage your brand and customer trust. This can also damage your bottom line with stock shares falling and partners pulling out. Through an effective communication strategy, you can help control the message internally and externally.

Below is a very good crisis communication presentation by Olivgy on Social Media for Crisis Management. I highly recommend you take a look and adopt their best practices. For more information, please feel free to e-mail me at kimvanhorne@gmail.com.