7 Must-Haves for Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing has been quite the conversation topic recently. To begin any kind of successful venture into social media marketing, you must create a full plan for all possible outcomes.

1. Commitment: We have seen only too many companies start a social media presence, to then not follow through (enough). Social media requires content and curation. It requires responsiveness and interaction. In addition, the organization as a whole needs to be committed to it, not just the marketing department.

2. Strategy: Starting or continuing on social media without a strategy is will probably result in some pretty disastrous things happening (think the MacDonalds #McDStories debacle). A social strategy doesn’t need to be complex, but it needs to articulate what you are doing, and why. It also needs to have reference points you check against to make sure you stay on track.

3. Audience: In the exceptional case where your business doesn’t connect with people, you might not need a social media strategy. But in all other cases – it’s like with all other marketing: Who is your target audience (demographics, psychographics, firmographics)? What are they looking for? What are they afraid of? What do they love? Etc. If you don’t know who your audience is, it’s going to be really difficult to work out where they hang out, what they talk about, and how to engage them.

4. Brand: (We don’t mean your logo.) A brand is how people perceive your business/service/product, internally and externally. Pretending to be something you are not will result in a very public outcry.  When developing your social media plan, think carefully about the brand image you want and need to portray, and stick with it.

5. Metrics: One of my personal favorites. If you are not measuring your effort, you are wasting yours and everyone else’s time. Metrics allow you to set goals, define milestones, and measure how successful you are. The right metrics even allow you to make changes proactively instead of reactively.

6. Policy: Social media will affect your entire organization, and all of your stakeholders. There must be a common understanding of what is acceptable, and what isn’t.  A good policy defines standards for conduct, and holds people accountable for their actions.

7. Crisis Management: You will, at some point, need to manage a social media crisis. A good plan documents standard operating procedures and escalation steps, all the way up to DEFCON1. You want to proactively manage to avoid crisis, and be able to respond quickly when the crisis does arise.