Making the Jump From Dabbling to Having a Social Media Marketing Plan

19 09 2009

Making the JumpA recent article in Business Week by the Staff of the Corporate Executive Board reports that 70% of businesses are already involved in social media but that the majority of them are wasting their efforts through sloppy management.

In my experience, a great number of companies are dabbling in social media while they try to figure out what it can be best used for.  ENGAGEMENTdb does a report where they not only rank which enterprises are most active in social media, they also rate them as Mavens, Butterflies, Selectives and Wallflowers.

The bottom line is that if you do not have a strategy and a plan to measure success, you are probably just wasting time and resources.  It’s time to put together a plan to produce measurable results with Social Media.

Here are several things enterprises can do with Social Media Marketing today:

1.  Communicate your message to customers.  The is the old fashioned marketing messaging, just through new mediums.

  • Use social media to invite them to events, online and in the physical world.
  • Use social media to present you message in multiple media.  People have different learning styles.

2.  Listen to customers.  Run or participate in blogs and forums where your customers are.

  • Actively listen to what they say and deal with their issues.
  • This is also a great opportunity for first-hand customer research.

3.  Solicit ideas from your customers:

  • Use polling tools to do surveys
  • Ask customers in forums for their ideas on product enhancements, roadmaps, marketing, anything.
  • Use “crowdsourcing” techniques such as Cisco’s I-Prize contest to identify the next $1 billion business opportunity for Cisco.

4.  Engage with your customers:

  • Find out who your biggest supporters are.  Make sure they have the product information they need to be advocates.
  • Give visibility to your advocates.  Help connect them with prospective customers, speaking engagements, and online activities.
  • Find out who is providing technical support for your customers in your online forums.  Actively support these people and provide them the up-to-date information they need to be successful at what they do.

5.  Support your customers:

  • Listen to their product/service issues and resolve them before they turn into larger issues.
  • Build a reputation for listening and being responsive.

6.  Embrace your customers:

  • Actually bring customers into your business processes.
  • Voice of the Customer (VoC) tools have been used for years, but Social Media provides new tools and media to get customer input on your products, services, and business processes.

7.  Reach out to your broader audience:

  • Give the press “head-ups” on breaking news and events.  Use social media to get the information they need to meet their deadlines.
  • Keep industry analysts informed.  Give them the information they need when they need it.
  • Keep channel partners updated on the latest and make the relationship more of a two-way communication.
  • Keep developers and System Integrators (SI) up to date on the latest technology.  Provide forums for them to share technology and best practices.

The important thing is to have a Social Media strategy, have quantifiable objectives, and have measures of success.

Finally, start simple.  Start with a well-defined project with a clear scope.  A common mistake is to try to do too much at once and then fail to accomplish anything as a result.

* See the book, Groundswell for additional detail on this discussion.

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