This blog series covers insights shared by Chris Brogan, Charlene Li, David Meerman Scott, and Martin Giles (moderator) on The Business Value Behind Social Media (part of The Premier Business Leadership Series presented by SAS). Part 3 covers the panel's discussion on Walmart's initial social media strategy mistakes.
Part 4 discusses how companies late to social media marketing can get started. Key starting points suggested by the panel include:
* The Importance of Linking Social Media Strategy to Corporate Strategy
* Before You Create Content, Listen and Participate
* Figure Out Where Relevant Customer Conversations are Taking Place
* Define the Business Goals or Results to Achieve with Social Media
This post focuses on the panel's key take-aways and discussion from 29:00 - 36:56 of the embedded video.
Link the Social Media Strategy to the Overall Corporate Strategy
Apply and Coordinate Individual Social Media Channels to Strategic Execution (32:57 - 33:18). Charlene explains that corporate strategy isn't just about what the company does operationally. It's about how the company coordinates the overall strategy with all the different functional strategies.
Link the Social media Strategy to the Overall Corporate Strategy (33:19 - 33:49). Having a Facebook strategy or social media channel strategy in itself is missing the point. The key is having a corporate strategy that the organization applies Facebook participation or social media channel tactics to.
Before You Create Content, Listen and Participate
We Can Learn a Lot by Listening (33:51 - 34:12). David Meerman Scott mentions two (2) things companies can do as they begin their social media participation:
* Watch what's already going on online and and understand who's doing what
* Learn who's talking about your brand, your company, your products, and your industry
Take Baby Steps and Use Other People's Real Estate (34:13 - 34:18). Deploy your social media initiatives gradually. There's nothing wrong with commenting on people's blogs and participating in forums first before creating your own channel-specific content.
A Common Mistake - Undefined Purpose (34:19 - 34:39). A common mistake David observes among companies -- jumping into social media and establishing a Twitter account, or a YouTube Channel, or a couple of blogs without defining each social media channel's purpose. This just ends up being an uncoordinated mess. That's why it's important to take your time to understand what your customers are doing online before undertaking larger the online initiatives (i.e., writing and managing a blog).
Where Are Your Customer Conversations Taking Place
Go Where Your Customers Are (28:23 - 29:29). Understanding where your customers converse in social media channels is key. Why? Charlene says this knowledge can help define a specific channel's overall purpose.
As an example, many B2B companies say they don't use Facebook in social media strategy because Facebook is a B2C medium. But, what if the company decided to use Facebook specifically for hiring.
On page 204 of Open Leadership, Charlene talks about how Sodexo, a food and facilities management company with 350,000 employees used Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs to triple traffic to the Sodexo Career Website. Sodexo increased the number of applicants by 25% and also increased by 50% the number of diverse (female and minority) candidates.
Determine the Social Media Echo Chambers by Country (29:30 - 30:42). The panel notes that each geographic region has its own predominant social media channels:
- United States: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube
- Japan: Mixi.jp
- Netherlands: Hyves.nl
David references the phenomenon that when it comes to a specific social media platform there's usually one dominant player. Therefore, invest your time building a presence on the dominant platforms:
- Video = YouTube
- Microblogging = Twitter
- Social Networking (especially B2C) = Facebook
Define the Business Goal(s) You Want to Achieve With Social Media
Start with Specific Goals Targeted to Your Current Customers / Fans (34:54 - 35:20). Chris suggests defining goals focusing on either customer retention or new customer acquisition. As an example, Chris noted how the choice and purpose of using Facebook as a social media channel completely depends on the stated goal. If your objective is customer retention of current customers, maybe your purpose on this channel is massaging people. That tone of interaction is far different than the mood you'd be setting if the objective was new customer retention.
This is why it's so important to understand where your existing customers or new customers are conversing online. It makes no sense to invest time and resources in building a new channel / community if the target audience is already talking to each other in an established place.
Particpate in the Online Conversation Because the Phone's Ringing (35:20 - 35:39). The analogy Chris makes with social media is to think of each individual channel or community as a "ringing telephone." If you're still sitting on the sidelines by not participating in social media, you're essentially leaving the phone unanswered (and your its your existing customers or new potential customers who are on the other end of the phone line).
Sustainable, Long Term Success Requires a B-H-A-G
B-H-A-G Means Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal (35:40 - 36:49). Charlene says this is the long term planning or vision part of your social media strategy. Without an understanding of the vision, your team may be setting up its social media initiatives incorrectly.
* Think thoughtfully about what this all could really be?
* What / How could social media transform my organization?
* What will our customer relationships look like?
* What's the overall impact on our business?
In other words, your company's individual B-H-A-G could be what inspires or provides the strategic foundation for the desired outcome.
If Corporate Fear Sets In, Always Envision What Could Happen If You Succeed. Charlene points to how the Best Buy TwelpForce initiative is transformational game changer. Many organizations would say an initiative like that is incredibly scary. BUT, the outcome is delivering an outstanding customer service experience that other retail competitors are not providing. This success did not occur overnight. It took Best Buy four (4) years to get where they are now.
The potential business outcome could be a powerful and inspirational rallying point which aligns all team members around what you want to achieve with social media.
Goal-setting and objectives are a common emphasized theme throughout The Business Value Behind Social Media series. Defining the business outcomes and results your company wants to achieve with social media should be determined and then prioritized.
Once you know what you want to achieve as a business outcome, it becomes clearer how to:
* Link the social media strategy to the overall corporate strategy
* Understand what you should be listening for in online customer conversations
* And once you know what to listen for in customer conversations, it can help you figure out where the online conversations are taking place.
For example, if you're a B2C company, you're probably being talked about in Facebook. If you're a B2b company, there's an increased likelihood conversations are taking place in LinkedIn Forums or LinkedIn Discussion Groups.
You Can't Just Throw Stuff Together in Social Media and Hope It Comes Together Naturally. If you want to escalate your social media initiatives especially on a global scale, you have to take a structured approach that accounts for all of the aforementioned suggestions. Having a process to define business goals, link social strategy to corporate strategy, listen carefully, and then go where the customer conversations are taking place is the approach Intel is executing with its 2011 social media efforts.
You may experience and achieve online visibility initially by just "jumping into social media. "But, if you want to be a relevant, long-term, online player, you better start figuring out your company's B-H-A-G to inspire the troops.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you will stop by next Saturday for Part 5: How to Measure Social Media's Impact on Your Business.
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.