Does Your Company Have a Social Media Plan?

Integrate Social Media to Grow Your Online Presence

It seems that everywhere you go today companies are implementing social media campaigns to reach out to customers and increase name recognition.  Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube have all become household names, and even the Oxford dictionary added “unfriend”, a popular term for removing someone from your social network contact list, as the 2009 word of the year.  With all the hype and emergence of social media “gurus”, it is important to take a step back and stick with what matters the most: achieving measurable results.

Social media success can come in many forms. Whether it’s achieving greater brand awareness, improving marks on your customer relations scorecard or even increasing sales, social media provides a cost effective way to broaden your online presence.  While most social media networks are free to use, creating a winning strategy takes time, personnel and resources that you might otherwise allocate to another area of operations.  To justify the shift to social media, Johnson Direct works with clients to define and implement strategy using the below model to achieve a return on investment and ensure future success.

Identify Target Audience

The first step to creating your social media campaign is to define your target audience.  Who are you trying to reach?  Going through this process allows us to match target demographics to their most commonly used network.  For example, you might have a son or daughter that spends most of their time on Facebook leading you to believe that only teens use the site.  A July 2009 study by iStrategyLabs showed a 190% growth rate in the age bracket of 35-54 and a 513% increase in 55+ compared to a nominal 4.8% growth rate for users between 18 and 24 since the beginning of the year.  What does this mean for your brand?  Facebook isn’t just for kids anymore.

Define “Success”

In new media, success can mean positive feedback on goods and services, a higher amount of online sales or even a higher volume of “buzz” on your brand.  Social media services like Twitter and Facebook can be used to engage your customer and support them for the duration of the relationship.  An increasing number of companies are employing social networks as a method of client relationship management for sales or technical support.  A case in point is back in September I was looking for a car at a local dealership and felt uncomfortable with the amount of pressure I was receiving from the sales force.  I turned to my social network of choice, Twitter, and warned anyone that would listen of my experience.  Within three hours, I received a direct message from the car dealership apologizing for their actions and requesting a sit down to smooth things over.  At the time I vowed never again to go to that place, but after their unique (at the time) use of social media, I gave them another shot.

Launch, Integrate and Adapt

Planning is the key to success not only in social media but in your interactive strategy as a whole.  All of your research and analysis has led to the launch of your campaign- how will you announce it to your audience?  Johnson Direct recommends a “two way” relationship between your social media and traditional interactive campaigns.  Use your current interactive channels (web site, newsletter, email list, etc.) to launch the social campaign and use the social campaign to support your interactive efforts.    Integrating the various online channels is key to the success of both – social media cannot be used as a replacement to a traditional online presence.  We hear way too often about the company that cuts their interactive budget and opts to go the “free” social media route and ends up losing a big part of their customer base.

When your campaign is officially off the ground, it’s time to take a look at how you are performing week to week.  One thing to keep in mind is that seeing success, however you define it, takes time and patience.  With that being said, monitoring your campaign and adapting to current trends can make or break its success.  If you notice, for example, that the vast majority of your fans, followers or friends are in the 35-54 demographic, consider tailoring your content to the younger generation and testing the results.

Analysis

A campaign cannot be deemed a failure or success if there is no logical form of reasoning behind your analysis.  Traditional interactive channels have a large selection of analytical resources to measure your results, including Google Analytics for websites and ExactTarget for email distribution lists.  Since social media is still a relatively new phenomenon, and there is no current “industry standard” of measurement.  At Johnson Direct, we suggest not relying on just one analytics suite to measure, but utilizing a vast array of network specific features relevant to the medium most used by your target audience.  Blog platforms like WordPress and Blogger have “plug-ins” you can use that link to Google Analytics, and micro blogging platforms like Twitter have both third party enterprise software and link services.

Cornering your market online has changed in the last couple of years.  Simply throwing together a low budget website and expecting customers to find you is no longer common practice.  A multi-channel strategy is needed for the long term success of your brand or organization and Johnson Directs method of campaign creation and analysis will take you to the next level.  To read more about how Johnson Direct can help you deliver measurable results, visit johnsondirect.com today.

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