Remember these? Although they may seem a bit archaic, they are one of the first forms of social media. I’ll admit, until recently I hadn’t engaged in a forum since I was younger (when that’s all there really was). But I’ve had to delve into this digital domain head first since one of our clients is ramping up a new push for them. That being said, I forgot how engaging they were. It is a much more long-winded type speak, with a lot of room to become an influencer in your industry. I have also gotten some great practice from the Social Media Examiner Clubs which are great for anyone in this field. Forums are still very cool and yes, people are still talking in them. So, find some that pertain to your industry and give them a shot. (Hint: a good place to start is Google+ Communities. These are forums disguised in social media camouflage)
In my head it goes: goal setting – brainstorm – idea pool – checks and balances – strategy – tactics – finished plan. This has been my process for developing strategy plans thus far. Everyone’s strategy development is different, but the overarching themes can be applicable to all. Oh yeah, and strategy (since I see it everywhere and no real description attached) is the high level plan(s) that’s built to achieve certain, pre-determined goals. Tactics are the executional steps that help achieve the overarching goals of the strategy. So, before you make the jump to executional, think of these five questions while you are developing your overarching strategic plan.
1. What are my goals? Short term? And long term?
It’s all pointless if you are not striving to hit certain goals you’ve set. There needs to a be a concise list of short term, immediate goals you want to knock out, and then a concise list of the big, 6 month-ish goals you want to achieve over time. Determining goals is the very first step.
2. Will I need 1 overarching strategy? Or several?
Sometimes, multiple strategies are needed if the client you are working with is a large one and has multiple large goals to achieve on a more corporate branding level. That and the fact that they could have a campaign that seeks to accomplish two very different things. Do I recommend them implementing a bipolar campaign? No. But sometimes several strategies are needed to accomplish different sets of goals.
3. What tactics do I need in place to fulfill the goals of my strategy?
VERY IMPORTANT. These are the mechanical pieces that keep the big machine running. You need actionable steps that say, “this is how you are going to actually do it on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.”
4. Is my strategy fulfilling BOTH my long term and short term goals?
Always go back and double check yourself. Asking this question forces you to keep your goals on your mind at all times. Sometimes “creativity” can blind people’s strategic thinking and “cool” can take a front seat very fast. DON’T let this happen. Goals are always #1! Let cool and creativity come naturally.
5. What is the lifespan (timeline) of this strategy?
Simple. How long will this plan be in place? Again, determine how long you think it will take to accomplish the long term goals at hand and build a strategy that reflects that timeline. It could be three months; it could be one year. Give yourself checkpoints along the way.
What are some other steps you implement before developing a new social media strategy plan?
Do not go overboard (and you will feel it when you go over the line), but repurpose your content and messaging so that it can reach a variety of users in your audience.
Remember, when you feel thoroughly annoyed by pushing out the same content, that’s the same time you have just made a decent impression in the market.
This morning as I arose with the sounds of Atlanta’s Midtown outside my window, I already had social on the brain. Today is a busy day in terms of monitoring certain communities and tidying things up simply to be prepared for this week. So, per usual, I got up, flipped on the coffee and plugged in.
Right now, at this very moment, I have six tabs open. One is Gmail. Four are social networks. The last one is WordPress (I guess technically another social network, but let’s not pick over small cookies). With this plethora of content at my fingertips, how do I filter it all to what I want? How do I not have a panic attack because there’s. just. so. much.? Well, it’s easy, manage yourself, not the networks.
Right now, I have too much content available at one time. Space things out into small segments of time. Overload can be detrimental.
Schedule what you want to get out of the next hour. I need to reply to some e-mails. I need to check my Google+ Communities and I need to monitor two specific LinkedIn Groups. These three things are priority for the next hour. So, I can remove my Twitter and Facebook tabs for now (and the WordPress one after I finish writing this on my break! Ha!)
Take your time. Content is much more effectively absorbed if you actually slow things down a bit and digest what you are reading AS you read it. Say it back to yourself.
Take small breaks. Now this does not work for everybody, but I am much more effective if I review something for 30 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break. Rinse and repeat this and you will be surprised how much you get done by the end of the day.
Breathe. Remember, there’s always a tomorrow. Knock out what is priority for the next 24 hours, breathe and begin to schedule into the week.
What are some other content management tips you’ve found to be useful?
This industry lends itself to a lot of fluff, talk and show. Naturally, social media is the combined worlds of imagery, writing and creative thinking. These are essential in not only social marketing, but branding as well (which we all know comes before anything else). But what does all this creative fluffiness do? What are the real results? And how do they actually happen? Below are a few Bottom Line Social Media points I’ve encountered so far.
- ROI can come in various forms. Don’t just think traditional here. Depending on your goals beforehand, engagement can be a form of ROI. And obviously, there is traditional ROI – those good ol’ greenbacks. Typically, the more engagement, the better your numbers will be. Before you are dead set on what kind of ROI you want in the end, make sure your goals are laid out correctly in the beginning phases.
- Consistency = growth. This is a bold statement, but I stand by it. Why am I so sure of this? Well, if best practices are in place and you are consistent and planned with your strategy and tactics, then your community will grow. Remember, growth takes time.
- Delegation is vital. This goes hand-in-hand with consistency because your team must know WHO is publishing and resourcing content. The Community Manager position is in high demand now, thus increasing its appeal and need for companies in all industries. Confusion with managing a community can be devastating because the brand/company message can be jumbled or worse, completely lost. Don’t let confusion be part of your social team. Delegate a specific Community Manager and potentially an Associate Community Manager who is part time. Make them the gatekeepers.
- Bonus: Best Practices. Make sure you have your brand’s social marketing best practices memorized and in line. Or better yet, do your research and write them yourself. Social media is an industry based in being able to constantly practice what your preach 24/7.
What are some other bottom line social media points you’ve learned?
In the past few days, I have noticed the conversations taking place online at SXSW. Let me be clear, I’m not in Austin, but I’ve have been tracking conversations on Twitter, Facebook and my catalog of blogs. I have noticed the same words and ideas coming from these conversations and that is “how do we all grow our communities?” But then the conversation ends on that note. I’ve been left hanging on the second 50% of this method of “growing communities.” Where did it go? Where’s the next half of what’s supposed to be said? What I mean by that second half is “who’s joining your community?” This is more important to me, by far. I’d rather have 500 dedicated contributors who converse with each other and the brand than 1,000 fans who just sit there, not activated. With that in mind, here are three reasons why Facebook “communities” (no worries, we’ll get to Google+ in the next entry!) are more valuable than Facebook “fan clubs.”
1. Connection: yeah yeah, I know you’ve heard it, but you’ve heard it because it’s true. Fan clubs don’t build connections. Communities build connections. How? When you become part of a community (both offline and online) you become transparent. The community feel enables you to let your guard down a little bit and open up with genuine thought, creativity and respect. When this happens, the connection airwaves are 100% open. You just can’t beat that value.
2. Word-Of-Mouth: this is all the good stuff that comes after you have a successful community. Or, it can be all of the negative chatter. But for now, let’s look at the positive effects. When an online community is thriving, and a brand is at the center of conversation, fans (yes, real people) are conversing with one another about not only the brand, but other topics that have surfaced within in each comment thread. Fan clubs, if there is any chatter going on period, tend to only stick to promotional dialogue. “That’s so awesome!” type language. And don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing to hear, but you want more than just that same hollow comment reverberated in your community.
3. Friendship: remember this? In the beginning… Facebook was created help people find like-minded friends. That fan number is actually made up of people with brains and points of views. What are communities made up of? Exactly! When you scroll down a Facebook business page’s wall, see how many people are conversing with each other. Trust me, it exists. I’ve seen communities (and not just on Facebook) where people are asking others “what time they are going to a specific event” or “are they there at the event?” If you are on a page of interest and you see this type of conversation flowing then I’d suggest clicking “like.”
You’re a creator. A curator. A communicator.
You’re an editor. A director. A writer.
You’re an analyst. An interpreter. An advertiser.
You’re a sun up to sun down (and then some) worker. A “not leaving till it’s done” researcher.
You’re an orchestrator . A leader. A helper.
You’re a contributor. But most importantly, a listener.
You’re a doer. An observer. A specialist.
You’re a linker. A connector. A seeker.
You’re a Community Manager
Congrats on being awesome
Ok, so a Community Manager walks into a bar… no, just kidding. But a Community Manager really does walk into his or her office, sits down and looks at the calendar. It’s THAT day. You know what day I’m talking about… the day where you click open the Excel (or Google Doc) content calendar for the next month and a slow tear comes down your cheek as you stare at the unbranded abyss. That lack of future content makes you even more nauseous than the two grande coffees you just had. But then you remember, “hey, we are now crowd-sourcing content from our online communities” (and yes, I will use that buzzword only once. Apologies). The flashbacks of your meeting with the Strategy Director and CMO are coming back to you and the words “we need to start incorporating more user generated content from our fans and followers” blink in bright neon lights. You then take a look at next month’s naked calendar and attack it with no fear. Well, before you do this you need to read the below tips on how to not go nutzo with user generated content. Because as transparent and effective as it can be, it can also be lethal to your brand or organization if overdone or done poorly.
1. MOST IMPORTANT Research Where Your Content Is Coming From: I know there are other things to do on your list, but take a few minutes to make sure the content you are using is from a credible source. Believe me, if you publish content that is from a sketchy source fans and followers will call you out on it. And you don’t have time for that.
2. Do Not Forget Regular Content Strategy: user generated content can become addictive, especially if you have a large brand who enjoys tweeting, posting and producing videos about that product. Stay the course with your brand’s marketing strategy! Content from the community is an add-on, the icing on the cake. It is a strategy that should be periodically tossed in to spice things up and show everyone that “cool, they are listening to us and publishing our content.” Don’t fall into the trap of becoming addicted to your online community’s content. If you get hooked then all of your walls, streams and pages will become flooded with fan and follower content. Your brand message will be lost, thus creating confusion as to anything you were actually trying to push.
3. Make It Exclusive: this is the point of it all. Make your community members feel as though they are part of the VIP section at the Viper Room when something of THEIRS is published by YOU. To that person, it’s a stamp of brand approval. They will say to themselves (and their friends) “yeah, that’s my video that was RT’ed.” But if your consistency amps up and everything becomes user generated content then this exclusivity is lost. It is no more the “secret lair” you wanted it to be. The zest, the rush of it is lost.
Now, as you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), remember these tips when implementing a user generated content strategy (wow, I’ve used this word a lot. Please comment on another word for this. I seem to be getting buzzword syndrome). Finally, have fun with it. That’s the bottom line with all of this. Content, branding, online communities, etc. are supposed to be fun and engaging. Don’t forget that when making things shareable and RT’able.
I was reading a good piece by Scott Monty yesterday on what exactly “real time marketing” was and if it should even be a term. After taking 24 hours to digest the piece and digest the comments, I woke up with these thoughts about the newly slated strategy:
- I like this term, but it will soon be overused by every marketer out there and will then die a tragic, buzzword death.
- No, not all brands need to adopt this style of marketing. It needs to be applicable to A. your brand and B. your brand’s campaign.
- Don’t forget normal marketing.
- Not everything has to be “live.” I swear, as soon as a harlem shake comes down the pike it’s off to the races on who can push out the fastest blog post. And half the time, they aren’t worth the keystrokes that went into writing them. When something viral hits and I read these immediate write-ups on it, they usually just say that it happened…and that’s it. Is it too much to ask to be informative these days?
- Force messaging is not the answer. During the Oscars I saw SO many brands pushing campaigns that had no business being lumped into this stream of conversation. Again, don’t compromise your brand’s mantra just because a big event is coming up.
Bottom line: Real Time Marketing can be effective, but under the right circumstances and for the right brand. Always be wary of marketing trends before decisions are made.
Do You Know Brands Who Are Doing A Good Job With “Real Time Marketing?” A Bad Job?