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Developing a social media strategy - Essay Example

Social media strategy Word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age Social media allows people to be more connected than ever before and the mediums available for marketing are changing rapidly as new technologies come available. Online users are communicating in real time and every brand in the world is being caught up in the conversation whether they are participating or not. Venturing into social media means opening up your brand and company to the world at large and giving up control over how your message is spread.

Find out how to take back some intro (even as you give some up) to make sure that your brand is being promoted in a positive and effective way. Social Media Strategy Word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age Building and managing your brand strategy on the social Web Social media strategy: Summary The Challenge Social media allows people to be more connected than ever before and marketing is changing rapidly as new technologies come available.

Online users are communicating in real time and every brand in the world is being caught up in the conversation whether the company is actively participating or not. Venturing into giving up some control over how your message is being spread. How do you take back some control and make sure that your brand is being promoted in a positive and effective way? The Solution Harnessing the social Web and social media to promote your company’s brand the way you want it to be seen requires a well thought out plan to achieve long-term results, but it is not difficult.

By following clear evidential best practices and choosing the strategy that best fits your goals (whether they are brand building, link building, an integrated campaign or a long-term social media plan), you will drive your Meany’s online presence to success. Use a dedicated team or enlist the whole company to help, but it is important to be “yourself. ” The public wants and expects to communicate with you and if they have a good experience, they will spread “social proof” about your brand to new audiences and networks, even some that you may not have thought of yet.

Word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of marketing and engaging your audience via social media is simply using technology to drive this kind of strategy forward. Faceable has over 250 million active users around the globe who spend (in total) over billion minutes on the site each day. Thirds of those users are outside of college. More than 1 billion pieces of content are shared each week, including blobs, videos, links, microbiology and more. Online applications show that the average number of Tweets per hour is at over one million (for the period between July 18 and July 27, 2009, Tweediest measured 1 postings per hour on Twitter). 2 Over 100,000,000 Youth videos are viewed every day. 3 These numbers are only the tip of the iceberg, drawn from three of the most popular social media networks. The sheer size and activity of the audience gets bigger every ay and is something you and your company cannot afford to ignore.

With the advancement of technology and the establishment of real-time social networks like Twitter and Faceable, social network marketing can now reach a global market faster than any other kind of marketing before. But reaching your market with this next-generation version of word-mouth marketing is about more than speed. The other side of the coin is an audience that is actively participating in the message that is being sent. It is imperative to the success of your company to embrace and engage the ongoing social media growth.

To do that effectively, you have to put a strategy in place that is based on the best ways to harness the social Web in order to spread the word about your company in the way that best reflects your message. Social media statistics Faceable has 250 million active users Time 00 spent per day on Faceable: 5 billion minutes More 00 than 1 million posts on Twitter every hour 100 million Youth videos are viewed every day 73% 00 of active online users have read a blob; there are more than 346 million blob readers worldwide 55% 00 have uploaded photos to share 00 subscribe to an IRS feed Social Media, Web 2. And Internet Stats (n. D. . Retrieved July 25, 2009 from Debentures Web site: http://debentures. Com/2009/01112/social-media-web-internet-numbers-stats/ Social media is the perfect opportunity for you to listen to current customers, industry experts, prospects and other influencer and use that to improve your business. When you start participating in the conversation, you need to speak to the overall market and take part with helpful, quality content so that your audience will share the experience they have with your company with others online.

Building these relationships with customers and market conversation influencer will help your inline presence evolve positively and organically. Multiple platforms, multiple audiences, infinite opportunities Technology has enabled people to talk to each other across the world in every imaginable way possible. As new ways of communicating are introduced and temporarily overshadow other methods, they add to your own marketing arsenal.

With all of these options, it is of critical importance to choose the best platforms for your company, the ones that will best get your message out to your audience and allow user-generated content to spread your product and services marketing. Microbiological platforms (like Twitter and Passbooks activity streams) are the latest technology to emerge in a long line of social networking environments, but 1 2 Twitter speed Lully 27, 2009). Retrieved July 27, 2009 from Tweediest Web site: http:// www. Tweediest. Com Faceable Statistics (n. D. ). Retrieved July 25, 2009 from Faceable Web site: http:// www. Casebook. Com/press/info. PH? Statistics Youth Fact Sheet. (n. D. ). Retrieved July 30, 2009 from Youth Web site: http://www. Youth. Compact_sheet its predecessors are Just as critical to your company’s social media success. Blobs, forums and threaded discussions, reviews and comments, video, webzines and bedposts can all play a role in your participation in the conversation that is happening online. Blobbing, while one of the “older” platforms for getting your company’s message out, is one of the most effective. Tom Peters, author of Re-imagine!

Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, calls blobbing “the best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude” for the simple reason that blob entries are quick and to the point, have enough content to explain that point and can be posted frequently to satisfy a Uris’s audience. 4 Like all social media, blobs can have followers who are alerted to updates. A corporate blob can address the concerns of your company directly, announce benefits to your consumers and address the issues that affect your industry, all establishing you and your company as an entity that can be relied on.

It gives a transparency to what you are doing and where your company is going, on your terms. Blobs of fans and experts can spread this message further. They may not talk about your company all of the time, but if your company participates in the conversation ongoing on in comments, you can establish relationships with other participants and the authors and be seen as a positive part of the social media flow. This applies to any blob, whether it is an industry expert, product reviewer or an influential consumer.

Blobbing demonstrates a commitment and passion for your industry that will live on after the blob is initially written. This goes for comments attached to them as well. Old articles are valuable and still read weeks, months and even years later, and can be referred back to again and again. Microbiological platforms, primarily Twitter, are fast moving, real time methods for immunization. Commentary and reaction is quick and can spread like wildfire. While this can be unnerving, it is also one of the best ways to communicate with your audience and respond to their questions, concerns and needs.

The conversation about your industry and your company is already occurring in this kind of environment and participating here is an opportunity for you to direct the conversation even as it evolves. You can use this forum to promote and protect your brand and establish your expertise, responding to commentary (positive and negative) and quelling concerns before they spread too far. Fast moving information not only spreads quickly, but good information can disappear Just as fast.

It is important to participate on microbiological sites to continue the conversation and help it evolve, even directing it to other content that The more user-generated content that occurs around your company as a subject, the better coverage you have across social media. Microbiology posts move quickly, but are short and can often leave out more in depth information that readers want and need. Blobs can address that need, but they are primarily one-sided. Forums and threaded concussion boards provide a space where in-depth conversation can take place.

You can find these on subject-area dedicated sites and on broader social networking sites, taking place within groups. However, the best place to have them is on your own Web site, where you can steer the conversation and very directly discover what your customers are looking for. Participants in these on-site discussions are also participating in other social media, carrying the story out to a wider public, linking back to the forums on your site and pulling additional people into the conversation.

Along with ratings and reviews on your Web site (and on other sites), the discussion taking place here is in the context of a single topic, making it easy for others who are interested in the same thing to find it. Social content like videos, bedposts and webzines can be compelling ways to start and direct the conversation. 4 Seth Gooding and Tom Peters on blobbing. (April 2009). Retrieved July 30, 2009 from Youth Web site: http://www. Youth. Com/watch? V=livability. With the capability to access these resources on multiple platforms (including mobile devices) and spread interesting content virally, this kind of social activity is an attractive addition to the arsenal of your social media strategy. ROI = Risk of Ignoring With so much of social media activity happening off of your Web site and outside of traditional analytics, it is difficult to accurately measure the return on investment you get by participating as a company. Your analytics can only see traffic patterns on your site and they do not tell the whole story of the conversation that is happening around your brand.

Paula Drum, vice president of marketing at H Block, refers to ROI as “Risk of Ignoring. “5 Whether the benefit is directly quantifiable or not, social media and social outworks are how people are communicating on the Web and where they are spending much of their online time. By not taking an active role on the social Web, your company risks missing opportunities and losing revenue: Competitors will reach the audience you want to capture. Without your participation, your competition will own 00 their maidenhair.

Non-participation is rapidly being seen as meaning you do not care about your clientele. Gaining the public The 00 conversation will happen about you, whether you are involved or not. If you are not involved, you cannot exercise any influence or control over the way you are received. Missing these opportunities will result in your audience ignoring or forgetting about your company when it is time for them to make a decision. In the case of H Block, Drum has used social media (specifically Twitter) to stay in contact with their customers throughout the year, not Just at tax time.

This kind of engagement has established H Block with the audience that they are looking to reach and has positioned them as experts and influencer in their field. Understanding social proof The perception that your company is an expert in its field is critical to your future success. When other people refer back to your company when they are talking about your industry, they are establishing “social proof,” a trust that extends throughout their network of friends and colleagues.

Online social network users are three times more likely to trust their peers’ opinions over advertising when making purchase decisions and less than 20% trust advertising when it comes to making decisions. 6 Influencer, including friends, friends-of-friends, colleagues and recognized experts, exist everywhere on the social Web. They are the people within peer groups that there go to for recommendations, advice and trusted opinions. By engaging them, you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing, with the resulting effect of expanding your audience from them to their friends to their friend-of-a-friend-of-a- friend.

This is of utmost importance on the social Web. While it is critical to participate in the conversation that is going 5 4 Drum, P. (2009, March). Social Media: If You Liked it, Then You Should Have Put a Dig on It…. Panel discussion presented at SSW, Austin, TX. 6 “Social Networking Sites: Defining Advertising Opportunities in a Competitive Landscape. ” (2007, March). Superstructures. On, it is nearly impossible to be everywhere that the conversation is happening. New groups, new networks and new connections are forming all of the time and no company has the resources to maintain a quality relationship with all of them.

The colleagues, friends and followers of the “go-ad’ people you are actively communicating with are capable of spreading your message organically to these transparently caring about them as customers and clients, they will actively talk about their experiences with your company, bringing that message to other networks o are not aware of and can even defend you if necessary. The social proof they establish is the most powerful offense and defense you can have in your marketing arsenal. Social proof is not Just influential from a brand building perspective. It should be part of your search engine optimization strategy as well.

The goal of search engines is to find trusted, authority sites and rank them high in search results. Search engines like Google are paying more attention to how site visitors view Web sites, not Just how often they are visited. Google has recently added a Dig (a popular link-sharing site) Dutton to their toolbar and is now indexing Twitter. In addition, members of Google can rank sites with Glowering, customizing their own search results and influencing the results of other searches. Social proof is the foundation of word-of-mouth marketing online and offline.

Not only do you want people to talk about your company and talk about your message, you need people to take ownership of the message as well. Getting started with a social media strategy Effective social proof 86. 9% of respondents said they would trust a friend’s recommendation over a review by a critic, while 83. 8% said hey would trust user reviews over a critic. (Marketing Sharpe, July 2007) Tech 00 decision makers consider their personal experience (58%) first when short-listing tech vendors, followed by word-of-mouth and industry analyst reports, tied at 51%.

Advertising (17%) and direct marketing (21%) were listed as the least important information sources 00 of online holiday shoppers read online customer reviews (Nielsen Online, December 2008) Industry Statistics (n. D. ). Retrieved July 31, 2009 from Vacationer Web site: http://www. Vacationer. Com/ industrialists. HTML No single strategy is appropriate for every company. The customer base, the product or service, the goals and the makeup of the company itself are all variables that influence the path that will lead to success.

It is extremely important that your company stays true to its brand, both in the guiding principles of the campaign and the path of engagement that you choose. The audience you reach out to exists in two spaces. The first is the already captured audience that visits your Web site. They are already aware and are getting the full thrust of your brand. They are the perfect accomplices to engage in your word-of- mouth marketing. Because of their awareness of the message they can spread it to the audience that is off-site or “in the wild. Even though your audience will help you reach other people, you need to decide what external networks your company is going to be active on. To start with, your company needs to have a Faceable and Twitter presence. These are two of the most popular and active social networks and the vast majority of people you want to reach will be active there. Beyond that, you should look at platforms that are more focused on your own industry. 5 These can range from specialized social networking sites, blobs that you can articulate in as a contributor or commenter, news sites and more (for example, Dockland. Mom is an extensive social network for superstars captains and crews. Digital-photography-school. Com caters to both professional and amateur photography enthusiasts). As you engage more people on the core sites, follow them to the other sites they participate on to see where else you can take part. “Authenticity is key; the public wants to connect with your company, not with an agency. ” Make sure that your company is being transparent about their participation. Members of your company who are participating in your social media efforts should Eng way toward establishing social proof.

Link building vs.. Brand building The two broad goals (and, admittedly, they are related) of building a social media presence are link building and brand building. The purpose of link building is to drive traffic to your Web site by promoting links to it on the Web. This not only increases the number of visitors to your site, but also builds SEE (the number of links back to your site is one of many things that search engines look at to determine ranking in search engine results). In addition to the core social media presence, you would focus on link building sites like Dig, Squid’s, Propeller, Del. CIO. Us and Wobble. Brand building focuses on creating consumer awareness and is primarily about building social proof. Attacking social media from this angle captures maidenhair and does more to encourage discussion about your company, rather than redirecting readers to other content. Brand building occurs on every social network (like Faceable, Namespace, Twitter and Linked) and you can also find more industry focused spaces (like the Inning network and other specialized sites). There is absolutely no reason that you cannot do both.

That requires dedication to the goals and Web communities that your company is building a presence through and will depend on the size and composition of the team that is managing your social media efforts. Should you choose to focus on one over the other, you should at least maintain a presence with the secondary strategy as well. Both build social proof: link building by spreading links to other networks and brand building by growing the buzz around the company and establishing expertise.

Determining the best style of campaign for your purpose There are two primary types of social media campaigns, one with a finite end and the there more open-ended. Social media can be used as part of a specific, targeted campaign revolving around a singular product, service, event or other aspect of the company or it can be put to use as part of your company’s ongoing exposure to the Web, covering brand building, customer service, public relations and specific promotions. As part of an integrated marketing campaign, it mixes with aspects of more traditional marketing.

It may include video on Youth, promotion on Twitter, bedposts, dedicated Faceable or Namespace groups and even a social portion on your company’s site or a micro site. The key is to have the social media aspect of your campaign build up to a clear conclusion, one that your “followers” will look forward to. Too often, integrated campaigns assume that the event or product is enough, but with social media, the public plays a much bigger role in determining the success of the marketing. An anti-climactic social media campaign results in an audience who is left other networks.

On the other hand, social media can be a long term aspect of your marketing strategy in its own right. This is an ongoing effort with no definitive climax and is built on a brand (or brands) as a whole. Activity occurs across different aspects of social media as resources allow and as appropriate. Youth videos, Twitter accounts, Faceable groups, company blobs and activity in on and off-site threaded discussions are all positive places to participate in the larger conversation in your industry and with consumers.

Your company can build on previous successes, crossover with and launch integrated campaigns, run A/B campaign tests, address customer service issues and answer questions as they come up. This kind of social media plan can be rolled out around a single product or brand to “test the waters” ND test your approach before adding to it, or it can be launched in one shot under a main brand, letting public participants in the conversation determine which products and services they want to talk about.

The integrated marketing campaign is more directed, with a clear beginning and end. The social media plan will evolve over time, with input from the participants on both sides. It needs to remain flexible, allowing guaranteed content to spread your company’s brand and allowing you to introduce and remove elements to your social media marketing strategy. Having a team that has the agility to respond to this ever hanging environment is essential to a successful social media presence. Media dollars or human capital?

Budgeting marketing dollars for social media applies primarily to integrated marketing campaigns, where many of the social media elements double as collateral that needs to be produced. At the end of the day, rolling the strategy out to the social Web costs very little and is more reliant on human capital. Human capital comes into play as you determine the size of the team that will be officially participating in your social media marketing. 7 It can either be a whole company effort or the responsibility f a specific, dedicated team. Both ways have advantages and disadvantages.

By encouraging the whole company to participate, you will have the advantage of a large cross-section of experience and expertise that represents you in the conversation online. It can be a very large presence (10% of H&R Blocks 100,000 employees are active on Twitter)8, giving you a bigger presence promoting the brand, educating consumers and addressing customer service questions. Social proof can be established rapidly as the different elements of your company reach different audiences. It creates a very transparent image of your company.

But with this large team comes lower control over the message you are establishing. Your message will evolve online in the social arena, but it is important that your whole company has a clear understanding of what that message is, how and when you want to roll out product announcements (this should be the responsibility of a select few employees, perhaps in marketing or PR) and the best practices that you want and need your company * Employees will participate in social media outside of official channels, so it is a good idea to have company-wide best practices for everyone, regardless of whether or not