10 keys to sustainable social media marketing
It appears that many marketers, in the UK at least, remain confused by the value, purpose and ownership of social media, with only 7% measuring its impact and ROI and 37% participating in social media without sound business reasons, according to a study by Wildfire PR.
The study found that many marketers are failing to realise the social media channel's real potential as part of the marketing mix and that, while almost half of businesses have adopted social media, 15% are doing it so they don't get left behind, 12% are doing it because they feel they have to, and 10% because their competitors are doing it.
The company argues that it is perhaps not surprising that the majority of companies are failing to realise he full benefits of social media tactics, and are instead merely using it as an extension of existing marketing strategy, with 10% saying they adopted social media as a press release distribution channel, 5% saying they use it for market research, and only 6% saying that social media is integrated with their marketing campaigns.
"Social media offers companies the opportunity to engage in a two-way dialogue with customers, but this will require a change in corporate thinking," explained Debby Penton, managing director for Wildfire PR. "Too many organisations are adopting social media simply because they have to, with little strategic thought as to how they can engage with their customers to build brand advocates, create communities or gain valuable market research insights."
Wildfire has therefore compiled a ten-step best practices guide for businesses that want to take a more strategic and sustainable approach to social media marketing. The ten steps - in very brief summary - are as follows:
- Set objectives Take a step back and really think about what you are trying to achieve.
- Get senior buy-in and allocate budget Much of the talk surrounding social media is about grass roots involvement, but getting senior buy-in is also vital to drive adoption and give credibility to social media throughout the enterprise.
- Develop internal advocates Internal social media advocates should be identified and supported to ensure that social activities are carried out and maintained.
- Focus on community Social media works best by developing new communities or by tapping into existing ones. The first step for any social media strategy is to identify where your target audience is and how you can best engage and interact with them.
- Avoid going for 'quick wins' If you take a community-focused approach to social media, early 'wins' are likely to be smaller, but the natural organic process will ensure that your community will be stronger and more receptive.
- Integrate with other activities Social media - like most forms of marketing - cannot exist in a vacuum. By integrating activities and ensuring that there is good internal communication, you will ensure that your strategy and tactics are joined up and coherent.
- Training, training, training Training doesn't need to be complicated or expensive, but does need to set out your objectives, guidelines and processes so that everyone involved has the confi dence to make the most of the opportunities.
- Be open and transparent, both internally and externally This is perhaps the most difficult area for many businesses to get to grips with. Companies that are opening up and being more transparent are realising incredible benefits both for their employees and their audiences.
- Measure! Measurement doesn't have to be complicated or in-depth, but the only way to prove whether you are meeting your objectives or determining whether further investment is worthwhile is to measure results.
- Rinse, wash, repeat Don't be afraid to change things if they aren't working. The best way to do this is to put in place concrete objectives, measure the outcome and output of your actions and then review activity on a regular basis.
The full 'Sustainable Social Media' report has been made available for free download from Wildfire PR's web site - click here (free registration required).