Why Use Social Media?
There are a lot of self proclaimed “social media experts” out there. I do not claim to be one of them nor do I think most people should ever claim to be an expert at anything. The term “expert” is used far too frequently in the online marketing world and should be taken with a grain of salt. The bottom line is that Internet marketing strategies like social media are not complicated when you understand best practices and have a detailed plan.
Social media is one of the fastest growing online marketing initiatives. The goal of a social media campaign is to create a fusion between PR, networking, advertising, and customer interaction. A properly managed social media effort will also substantially improve SEO and online reputation management.
When promoting specific products and services it is important to educate the consumer and build trust. Social media provides that opportunity to create a conversation and engage the customer in valuable knowledge transfer. It is important to create a strategy that informs the consumer about the product and provides a plan for responding to any potential negative feedback.
When engaging in social media you must have a plan. To execute social media properly, you need a detailed project plan just like you would have for any major Internet marketing initiative. The following information provides some guidelines for marketers or companies to lay the initial framework for such a plan.
Social Media Statistics
Social Media Audience
• Today, the social media audience totals 122 million. That is 64% of the total Internet audience!
• Time spent on social networking and blogging sites is growing at over 3x overall Internet growth.
• Average user time spent on Facebook grew 566% (2008)
• Fastest growing social media demographic is ages 35 to 54. Rapidly growing sub groups include women over 55 and young stay at home Moms
• Over 1/3 of all content sharing on the web is done through Facebook and Twitter
• 62% of Twitter users are ages 25 to 54
• 90% are moderate to heavy Internet users
• In 2009, an estimated 96.6 million users will read a blog at least once per month.
• By 2013, that number is expected to reach 128.2 million – which accounts for 58 percent of all U.S. Internet users.
• 89.7 unique visitors in April 2009
• 16.6 average daily visitors
• 6 billion videos viewed each month
Mobile Access to Social Media
• eMarketer projects that mobile social network users worldwide will climb from 243 million in 2009 to 803 million in 2012.
Statistics provide by Nielsen Online and eMarketer
The key objectives will be defined by the final strategy. The recommendations should include components designed to meet the following objectives:
• Provide great depth and breadth of information about the brand’s products and services
• To engage advocates for the product or service who will help create a positive buzz based on verifiable information
• To generate a “conversation” with current and potential customers
• To build on the positive and have a planned response for the negative including immediate feedback and communication of a plan to answer any concerns
The platforms used will be different for every strategy depending on the brand and defined goals. Some initial platforms widely used include:
• Corporate Blog – For communicating valuable industry information, answering frequently asked questions, and providing educational content about the brand’s products and services
• Facebook – For providing an additional platform for communicating the brand message and educating consumers
• Twitter – For providing an additional platform for communicating the brand message and educating consumers
• YouTube Channel – To host additional videos about the product, testimonials, and interviews with advocates
• Review & Rating Sites – To provide a planned strategic response to negative feedback and become involved in the online conversation.
• Company website and all offline media components – All social media platforms should be joined together with a centric message and combined with offline media placements
Social Media Archtiecture
NOTE: New Assets and Existing Assets include any valuable content, articles, reports, videos, or educational pieces that will add value for the consumer base. Global Marketing is representing the incorporation of all offline marketing components.
Social Media Timeline and Editorial Calendar
Social media should not be a “fly by the seat of your pants” effort. A define plan will ensure a more organized approach. I recommend having a 12 month plan divided by quarter. Again, every brand will have a different strategy. You need to assign the key players that will be involved and make sure everyone is committed to the process. Once you start communicating with your custoimers effectively through social media, you won’t want to stop anyway!