Not too long ago, CMOs who responded to a survey sponsored by the American Marketing Association regarding the state of marketing confirmed on a scale of 1-7 (1 being “not integrated” and 7 “very integrated) that their social media was linked to their company’s overall marketing strategy at an average level of 3.9. And while social media has only grown in popularity for B2C and even B2B organizations, many companies still operate in silos, making social media the responsibility of a communications person who does not report to the CMO or have a hand in the creation of the marketing strategy for the brand. This approach does solve the “challenge” of having a social media presence, but it does little to promote the mission, values, and soul of the organization as it runs completely separate from all other marketing campaigns and initiatives. So how can businesses align social media with marketing strategy?
In a previous role, my department was responsible for kick starting social media for the entire company, which meant I had to hire a social media specialist to create and enforce a social media policy as well as execute social media tasks on a daily basis. I remember the CMO saying something along the lines of, “We need a young person to do this. They’ve been doing it longer than the rest of us.” He may have been right, but I actually hired someone with more experience than me for this crucial role – someone who had been in journalism and public relations, and understood the importance of social media to the company and its constituents. He did a great job and, overall, social media was seen as a success for our organization. But upon reflection, (hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?) we really missed some opportunities to spread the word on new opportunities because we operated separately from marketing [even though I reported to the CMO].
Now that I’ve had some time to consider what we should have done and what I wish I would have asked for when first faced with this opportunity, I have some insights I’d like to share with you on how your business can align social media with marketing strategy and improve engagement with your key constituents (i.e., prospects, customers, and advocates).
- Review the marketing strategy. It’s important to start literally from square one. Determine where social media fits into each goal of the marketing department and how it can be used to help the company reach its overall goals.
- Consider your target audiences. With Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, etc… it can get a little confusing and difficult to prioritize which social media platforms a brand should participate in. Before deciding Twitter is the only place for you, consider where your target audiences are spending time and focus on reaching them there.
- Drive social media actions against marketing goals. Whoever is managing social media for the company must understand the objectives of each tactic. Sharing a tweet or status update simply because “we haven’t in a while” isn’t a great reason to do so. An approach that works for many companies is using social media to help move contacts through their journey or customer lifecycle with a brand.
- Plan ahead. Every tweet, update, and share must have a purpose. By aligning social media with the overall marketing editorial calendar, messages can be consistent not only in their context but also their timing.
- Be prepared to change course at a moment’s notice. Now there’s a plan and a map to follow, it’s imperative for everyone involved to understand it could all change in an instant. Make sure processes are outlined that dictate what happens when and all involved parties are familiar with them.
If I could go back and do it all over, I would have still hired the same person to run social media for the company but I would have already had a policy and procedures in place (with the assistance of marketing and legal) so we could have hit the ground running and made more of impact right away. Social media offers the unique ability for organizations to build valuable engagement with constituents that leads to brand loyalty. It also provides a fantastic opportunity for brands to develop more of a real “voice” that is actually heard by the right people because it’s not an advertisement, phone call, or obtrusive salesperson.
What tips can you share to impact and assist businesses attempting to align social media with marketing strategy?