I’m a strategic thinker and have preached to more then a few fortune 500 company’s on why we can’t be reactive, we must go forth and be proactive. However, I also know that sometimes that’s just not possible. I work with start-up and small business and usually our budget is putting some constraints on what we can do. The client can only spend X and you’ve to made due with that for now.
Despite what some people think. Social Media is not free and you’ve to pay for people’s time, the technology that will support them and lets not forget any creative & research costs. It may seem like a lot of money up front and it can be, but much like buying a good quality TV or washing machine today. All these upfront costs will pay for itself in the shelf life of this process.
With all that being said, if your client can only pay for one touch point once you’ve factored in all the costs. How do you decide where to put your resources? You can’t afford to fail and you want to make sure you’re achieving success at the end of the day. That success will hopefully turn into more resources to help you guys build out your social engagement organically. And that’s what I want to talk about today. This isn’t the only way but this is how I go about building out a clients social engagement organically when you’ve limited resources.
This is where social media starts and this is where it ends. Your business objectives are you goals and what you are looking to achieve as you emerse yourself in the world of social media. The tools (Facebook Page(s), Twitter, Last.fm, LinkedIn) and technology come after you’ve looked at your business objectives. Maybe you want to help augment your customer service department or increase brandawareness of your new product launch. Or better yet, you want to connect with your die-hard fans and see how you can improve some of your current products.
Once you’ve some objectives, you need to start looking at how you are going to measure those objectives in 6 – 12 months. If you know, and you should, that your customer service department gets 500 calls a week across your product line and your team spends an average of 5 minutes on each call. Then your goals should be to decrease the amount of calls you get, while also trying to decrease the amount of time your team spends on the phone. Lets says you want to get it down to 450 calls in 8 months and decrease your time per call to 4 minutes. The reason you want to have measurable goals is to prove that your efforts in social media are having a tangible effect on your business in a positive way.
The Ideal Customers, Research & Listening Platform
If you’ve figured out your measurable business objectives. Then you need to start looking at your customers and research. Staying with the customer service analogy. Often your client will know who the ideal customers are, and the ones that cause your customer services department to catch fire. Sometimes they can only give you a demographic profile or they says it’s all related to this widget. This is a great starting point and will forces you to do some research and also possibly look at varies listening platforms for your client (paid or free are possibilities).
If you’ve an idea of a demographic profile from your client. Then I like to look at comScore and or Nielsen data to give me an idea of the online habits of that group. This will tell me where I should be spending my time within social media (blogs vs social networks vs video) to help find out what issues this group is having with our client’s product. Another helpful research option is to look at tools like Radian6 or SocialMention to start listening. You can look at the negative sentiment and see if it’s related to your client’s product. You can also start to find out where the majority of this activity is occurring. All of this data will give you and your client a better profile on your customers and where you may want to start to engage with them.
I’m a big fan of touch points and you can read about it here: Having Different Touch Points is Key to Growth Online. You are going to use this new found information to build out a touch point(s) for your client. If you are going after moms, then you’ll know that they trust information found in blogs more then social networks (eMarketer & About.com). You’ll want to pick a touch point that connects with your audience and allows you to achieve the business objectives that you set out when you started on the social media journey. If this goes as smoothly as possible, you’ll achieve your objective and get more resources in the long run.
Content & Creative
Now I won’t touch on this area very much. If you’ve picked your business objective, looked at your customers profile and have actually picked a touch point to connect with your audience. Then you can look at building content and creative that is going to connect with your audience. Moms are going to prefer something very different then what you are going to use to connect with teens and 20-somethings. Going with your gut & common sense will help you build something great. One things I like to do here is always recheck the data I found when I did my research. I want to make sure I didn’t miss anything important & that everything is in order. If all is good and I’ve a green light. I launch after talking with the client one last time.
Now one thing I didn’t mention is measuring all that time your team spends in the world of social media. You want to make sure that you’re still having a positive effect after you’ve calculated your social media time. That post will be coming in a few days. In the end, making sure you start off with a measurable business objective is going to make sure you stay on course and don’t lose focus.