While I believe that social media offers some incredible advantages to businesses such as:
• Listening to what your customers say about your brand,
• Enabling consumers to tell your brand’s story to others,
• Reducing calls to customer support,
• Soliciting ideas for new or improved products, and
• Generating excitement about your brand,
as well as a host of other benefits, it cannot “fix” your brand if it isn’t built on a solid strategic foundation.
Successfully using social media is like building a home.With a house, you can spend tons of money making the exterior and interior look fantastic but unless it’s based on a solid foundation, it’s only a matter of time before cracks start to appear in the walls, floors and ceiling and you discover that all your expensive effort was for naught.
It’s no different in social media. That’s why the first thing to focus on is the importance of confirming your brand’s overall mission (i.e. why are we in business?) and objective (what’s the brand trying to achieve in the next 3 to 5 years?). Also take time to clarify your brand’s target audience, positioning, key benefit, reason to believe and brand persona before launching into any social media strategies or plans.
It’s recently been popular to talk about a brand’s “Facebook strategy” or “Twitter strategy.” Unfortunately, that’s putting marketing tactics ahead of your brand’s overall strategy.Bigger questions need to be addressed first such as:
• What are your target’s social media habits (i.e., fish where the fish are, not where you wish they were)?
• What are the primary goals you want to achieve from your social media activities?
• How are you going to measure success for these goals (i.e., what social media metrics will you use)?
• How are your social media plans going to align with and complement the rest of your marketing program?
• Is your organization prepared to put the appropriate resources behind launching and maintaining an on-going social media program? This will be an entire organizational effort (i.e., HR, legal, product development, customer support, etc.—not just marketing).
• Who will be responsible for the on-going management and cost of your social media program?
Only after you’ve addressed all these issues do you begin work on the strategies and plans your brand wants to develop for specific social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (just two possible options among myriad other choices you might select).
There is a lot of buzz and excitement related to social media. But remember that for social media to have any real lasting benefit to your brand, you’ve got to make sure it’s based on a solid strategic foundation. Otherwise, social media is just going to gloss over the fundamental strategic weaknesses that have been the demise of many a brand.
Making sure your brand has a solid strategic grounding is just like being a homeowner who makes the wise (but expensive in time and money) investment to fix a faulty foundation so that your home can stand the test of time and so that you can get that great return on investment.
About the Author
Kip Knight is a senior consultant with the Cincinnati Consulting Consortium (CCC), a senior team of former P&G marketing experts who develop customized corporate training programs. With CCC, Kip has most recently taught executive level social media seminars to Fortune 500 companies.
Prior to joining CCC, Kip led marketing initiatives in over 80 countries. He spent 10 years in brand management at Procter & Gamble and 10 years at PepsiCo where he was head of marketing for KFC International and Chief Marketing Officer for Taco Bell.From 2002-2008, Kip was at eBay where he served as vice president of marketing for eBay, North America and was the first head of international marketing.
More info: Dick Bruder, president/CEO, CCC, (513) 233-0011 or firstname.lastname@example.org