For better or worse, effective social media marketing is like a great Ridley Scott film about Aliens (your pick) - they keep coming regardless of what you do. In the end the heroine prevails but it didn’t look good early on. She was resourceful, learned on the move, was bold and fought to the bitter end. Enough of the metaphors - our take, advice, counsel and read of the crystal ball for brands who need social media marketing insight!
Most brands don’t have a clue about budgeting effectively for social media marketing and start out the process with a per-determined “let’s hire an intern” to get on Twitter mentality. Fail! Your social media marketing budget should be a meaningful subset of your “big picture” (quarterly, annual) marketing budget; not an afterthought predicated on hiring cheap to get market “ROI” that is mostly flash with no substance. Interns rock and some may do a wonderful job; but there is a big difference between pushing content out on the social web and meaningful social media marketing that drives tangible engagement.
Speaking of staffing issues (interns or others), your business needs the right person working as a community manager - geeks are not always great at social media or those that are not outgoing and engaging. This may not sound like it’s insightful; but, we see a ton (endless) social media accounts managed by those that aren’t engaging (supportive, reaching out, showing some moxie (piss and vinegar if you will), paying it forward and/or with any understanding of how to follow others and engage.
Dare we say it; but, sorry guys, ladies rock the social world as community managers in most cases. See Jan Gordon’s Profile via Twitter as an example - we love her “pay it forward” mentality.
If you have a variable marketing budget; then pick 20-30% (roughly) of your overall budget and invest this in social media marketing for no more than one or two major platforms for one or two quarters and then measure your ROI via Social Engagement, Traffic to web site measured by Google Analytics and Lead Generation or Revenue that can be mapped to social media platforms. Then, carefully analyze your traffic generation and adjust your budget accordingly.
Think about three primary variables with the most impact on your social media marketing campaign costs: Staffing (who is going to manage the accounts), Content Marketing Strategy (Text, Images, Videos, Editorial Calendar) and Analytics and ROI Analysis.
Thinking that your brand or business understands social media at the outset of the campaign (we see this frequently) and not being able to listen to knowledgeable advice from others and/or getting out of your own way. Or, as above, thinking the cheapest solution (offshore in many cases) is going to achieve meaningful results that are predicated upon simple social connections. Connections don’t necessarily mean engagement.
Your brand or business is much better off with an engaged Facebook Business Page with Fans/Followers who amplify your brand messages by referring them to others, commenting or “liking” your brand. A huge Twitter Following account generated quickly with spammy Follow and Unfollow activities will do nothing for a business in the long run, other than look “cool” in reports to an exec staff that knows nothing about social engagement.
Buying Twitter Fans, Facebook Fans, Pinterest Followers to move the meter for a business owner, executive or marketer that thinks junk Followers will do anything for their business. This flies in the face of “perception is reality” marketing to a certain extent. But, aligns with the now ancient computer marketing maxim of garbage in and garbage out.
You can see thousands of Fiverr or Elance profiles predicated upon helping brands to buy their way in to the market. Does this work in the near term for your brand? An emphatic yes is needed - your commercially purchased Likes on Facebook may help you with Facebook’s Edge Rank initially and make your account look dazzling and sexy to others. But, when/if you do any kind of Facebook Ad Campaign your advertising to a bunch of “friends” (we are simplifying a bit) who have no connection with your brand whatsoever.
Not having a meaningful content marketing strategy (small plug: sign up for our Newsletter to download our 25 page Content Marketing Guidelines) - we tell out clients the “best social media marketing” platform and process we know is (drum roll) a blog that’s SEO and Topic organized with a basic Editorial Calendar.
The latter can be as simple as you want to make it with topics mapped out chronologically via a Word doc; or, a more complex model: spreadsheet, topics, keywords, timelines, responsibilities, edits, content syndication components.
Where many businesses have a difficult time with social media marketing is understanding the importance of sharing topics (read:meaningful content), images, links to “thought leader” content in a blended manner. Some of this content should be deep dive material that can be saved, downloaded and/or archived by our target market, with built in lead gen capture mechanisms.
To summarize the social media marketing strategy (what to do): check your ego at the door and listen to the right marketer or agency of your choice, personnel trump process (select the right people), don’t buy your social connections, share meaningful content across the social web and pay it forward - brands, business, social consumers are listening.
Be bold - Ridley Scott’s greatest character/female protagonist was Ellen Ripley - Ripley prevailed in the end - she took chances, observed and learned, didn’t give up and kicked some serious butt (sorry guys) along the way……….