I am an enthusiast of many things; although I can appreciate a fine wine, and perhaps even describe the ‘nose' of a good chardonnay – I dare say that I could lead a wine tasting session, or describe the process of oak aging or barrel fermenting.
I would say however that I am both an "enthusiast" and a "strategist" of Social Media. (and perhaps an evangelist and even a connoisseur of a good tweet).
Social media is as most would agree the new ‘medium' in digital marketing. There are many out there trying to decipher how to…how much…and where to start in creating a social media "strategy" to attract a target consumer to engage and transact.
There lies the difference between a social media ‘Enthusiast" and a social media "Strategist" – it's in the strategy (not just in the enthusiasm!) Wow – so that's not rocket science!Allow me to explain
We must begin with what constitutes a good Social Media strategy.1. Develop a good plan.
Sounds simple enough right? Start with who you are trying to reach and what social media channels they are likely frequenting. Decide what you are trying to achieve (ie. traffic back to a website, building an email database, an increase in brand awareness etc), chose the correct channels to populate (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr or all of the above), populate with content and build a community of followers.
Once you have decided on what social channels to include in your campaign, develop a plan to build a community – with an editorial or content strategy to support your goals.
For example: If you are primarily going to use viral video's with the goal of driving traffic to a transaction – make sure that the YouTube channel you create has many points of reference and links back to your website.
Make sure that you have optimized your video's properly to be found in search engines – and have populated other places with the video (like your website and Facebook page) and that you have added social media sharing tools to encourage more pass along distribution.
Also – ensure that all of your campaign elements are integrated and talk to each other.2. Ensure that you have enough of a budget and resources (time, expertise, dollars) to not only plan, but execute the strategy.
This is the tricky part. How do I know what resources I will need after the campaign ‘shelf life' is up?
Social Media channels like a Twitter account for example typically do not exist in isolation. Typically, a Tweeter is representing a brand voice, or has a Blog associated with it – or a transactional website in which to drive traffic to.
If you are going to engage in social media marketing, you should plan for it to be part of your long term marketing strategy.3. Measure and assign key performance measurables
Use social monitoring tools (there are many) as well as website tracking tools like Google Analytics to see how the campaign has impacted your campaign goals. Is Facebook now a top referrer of traffic to your website after launching an aggressive Facebook brand page?
How has the time and resources spent on Twitter affected the traffic increases in traffic to your company Blog?4. Learn and Continue Building
This is a key point as many social media ‘enthusiasts' may not pay enough attention to the fact that the foundation built in the beginning stages has a big impact on future social media successes. An isolated brand Twitter page with no integration into any other parts of a company's marketing mix – no matter how many followers it has – will not result in long term success.
In addition, those who live in the social communities such as Facebook, Twiiter and beyond expect transparency, commitment, and for you to add value to the social media ecosystem.
A one off viral video campaign will most likely not work to create any spectacular results without a long-term plan about how to leverage the traffic it has generated, or to engage that audience enough to act.
Social media enthusiasts are passionate about what social media can do – and they make excellent community manager's and community developers. Just because an enthusiast has a large list of followers on Twitter does not necessarily mean that they can map out a good long-term strategy and help guide the set up and execution of a successful social media marketing campaign.
Always engage with a true Social Media Strategist – one that has proven case studies and speaks to the points above if you are looking for a long term or even short term results…it will pay off in achieving brand ‘mavens' and not just ‘followers' who you may never see again.
If you are a connoisseur of a good discussion about social media marketing…I invite you to RT (Re-Tweet) this blog post and share your idea's of what it takes to be a true strategist.ideahatching.com is a marketing blog from Alicia Whalen, co-founder of A Couple of Chicks Marketing, discussing search, marketing & measurement in the new Internet Marketing environment! Please leave your comments - I'd love to hear from you! www.ideahatching.com