Marketing Sense

A discussion of marketing tools and tactics with a common sense attitude

Social Media Without the Trial and T-error

Posted by Colin N. Clarke on November 23, 2009

By Colin N. Clarke

If you were to look around marketing speaker’s circuits in any given town today you will find some business sharing it’s experience in using social media. You’ll hear how social media provides some great opportunities, but comes with pitfalls to watch out for as well. Here’s how your business can take advantage of social media opportunities, without the dangers of trial and error.

Strategy BEFORE tactics – A common pitfall: A business will say, “We need a Facebook page,” or “We need to do something with Twitter.” Truth is, worry about tactics LAST not first. The tools will change over time. Two years ago there was no such thing as Twitter, three years ago, no Facebook, four years ago MySpace was a HIT, but not so much anymore. Develop a strategy FIRST. The tactics that follow will then become obvious. Read Jay Baer’s article “The 7 Steps to Creating a Social Media Strategy” for more.

Establish objectives – What do you intend to accomplish with a social media strategy? Just saying you want 500 new followers or fans isn’t enough. Go deeper and establish some clear objectives. With social media you can address many areas, but define them now so you can stay on target.

– Improve the company image as being ­_________ (professional, caring, responsive, more…)

– Increase trial/use of our products or services

– Increase customer access to information on our company / products / services

– Increase membership / participation

– Improve customer / member communication

Budget for it – There is a common misconception that social media is FREE. Well, it isn’t. Yes, access to many tactical tools are free, but effectively employing a social media strategy that yields results requires an investment. Josh Lysne’s article, “It’s a lot of things… free is not one of them,” talks about the significant investment of TIME required to appropriately deploy a social media strategy. “You need to regularly engage your audience. You need to actively monitor what is being said. You need to review, refine and rework your engagement strategies.” All of these are vitally important and all of these require TIME – so budget for it. This may mean a new full-time position (or two) simply to execute your social media strategy, so be prepared.

Follow through – In consideration of the TIME factor mentioned above, follow through can become a pitfall and challenge for many. Social media creates an environment for audiences to engage with your brand – whether you like it or not. You need to be prepared to initiate and respond. How will your business deal with a situation that suddenly goes viral like the YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars?” It can happen at any time, but if your social media strategy is thorough, you will have a listening program and a response plan in place… AND you will have someone assigned to respond appropriately and in a timely manner.

Effective social media strategy and planning can remove the fear of trial and error and replace it with a confident approach to optimizing customer engagement and relationships.


2 Responses to “Social Media Without the Trial and T-error”

  1. Jason Baer said

    Thanks Colin. Good post. I appreciate my social media strategy process being included. Hope to see you soon.


    • clarkecoln said

      Thanks Jay. The process outline you provide is clear and understandable. We continue to advocate for businesses to approach social media strategically – and your process is a great place to start. Thanks for the comment.

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