There’s no such thing as social media strategy

no such thing

What on earth do I mean “there’s no such thing as social media strategy”?  Ok, you got me!  I’m using a classic marketing technique to pique your interest in what I have to say.

What I really mean, is that there is no such thing as a stand alone social media strategy, that exists outside of your strategic planning, and your marketing and communications plans, and your sales and lead generation work.

The rest of this post is written with a particular reader in mind (another classic marketing tactic), in this post I am going to explain to leaders who don’t have a particularly strong marketing or digital communications background why social media should not live in a silo or a vacuum in your organization.

There are two really strong businesses reasons why offshoring/outsourcing/ignoring social media is no longer a viable business strategy.

1. You are wasting money

This is the big, painful, frustrating reason why so many organizations are frustrated with their social media results.  Perhaps you, as the leader in your business wonder both quietly and aloud, why you are spending any time on social media.  It’s not producing revenue, the ROI is not measurable, and it seems to take a lot of either your staff’s time to manage it, or writing a monthly cheque to a company to run your social media for you without them really delivering “results”.

I want to explain why you are wasting money.  Because by devolving your organization of responsibility, and having your social media live outside of your business as usual processes, all you are doing is creating awareness.  Awareness is good.  Every brand likes awareness, but what every business needs is conversion.  Your team, internal or external, can only ever deliver on awareness, and to a lesser degree, engagement, if you don’t let them in to the rest of the business.

Can I give you an example?

Acme Inc hires Online Ltd to do their social media.

Online Ltd is told to post any content that Acme creates and puts on their website, and to talk in general about the issues that Acme Inc’s customers care about (and are provided with a list of those).  They are also given a list of competitors to ‘watch’ online, to glean any business intelligence.

Acme Inc says “contact us if you have any questions.” and pays their monthly fee on time.

Online Ltd dutifully does as asked and reports back on fan growth and engagement numbers.

Acme Inc comes to the end of the year and the budget for this work comes under question.  Acme Inc asks Online Ltd to justify their ROI.  Online Inc can’t tell their client how they have contributed to the bottom line.

Why not?  

Because they have been ostracized from the internal business processes and workflows.  They have no contact with the team of people who generate revenue, they have no budget for targeted and promoted activities, they are not connected with any CRM that can help them identify leads and influencers, they rely on the creation of content coming when Acme Inc feels like producing something and they don’t have access to any of the website analytics of Acme Inc to measure any of the work that they are doing.  In fact, at no point did Acme give them any strategic goal, except to “share our stuff” and talk to people you think might buy our thing we sell.

If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then chances are, you have set your social media up as an awareness tool, and not a conversion tool.

2. Social media only works as a conversion tool if you integrate it

What does that mean?  If you want your social media to perform in terms of conversions (revenue, email sign ups, product downloads, requests for information etc) then you have to have it integrate with the rest of your sales (lead generation) funnel, in two ways.  Firstly, you need to integrate the technology.

Technology integration

There are many, many tools on the market than can help you integrate your social media activities with your CRM (database) and your email marketing.  For example, Facebook and Twitter allow you to upload your email lists directly into their ad platforms, and in some cases simply have them sync and continuously talk to each other, in hopes of matching users to email addresses on both platforms. You can then serve ads and content specifically and only to those people.  This is great for targeting new content at warm leads.

This 2014 study from Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Facebook Marketing Science, showed results that pointed to a 22% increase in purchases when email and social media marketing was combined!

In addition to this type of integration, there are cloud based CRMs such as Salesforce and Zoho that consolidate all of your data together in one space and let you manage purchases, e-mail, social media, and marketing all in one central place.  You’ll hear them referred to as ‘Social CRMs‘.

Organizational integration

Believe it or not, this is the part that might be harder to implement than simply upgrading your tools and technology.  Building a social media strategy that works means integrating social media behaviour into your business across all areas of your business, not just in your marketing or communications department.

Social media needs content to thrive.  Content means pictures, stories, videos, case studies, testimonials, interviews and expert advice.  Your marketing team cannot create that in isolation, they need the input and buy-in of the rest of the organization.  If your sales team, for example, guard their e-mail addresses, their little black book, then how can your marketing team use that data to create successful online campaigns to engage and delight these people?  If your sales team see marketing as the enemy, you will never see an ROI from social media!

Similarly, if you yourself as the leader, pooh-pooh social media and say you want nothing to do with it, you are leading by exampling in showing others in the organization that it has no value.  And it never then will have, because it won’t have the support and buy in of the leadership… you create a vicious circle of failure!  Lead by example and be the first leader in your organization to embrace social media efforts and ask how you can help.

In the example above, I showed you how ‘annexing’ social media and devolving it’s importance to conversion and lead generation leads to frustration.

What content can you help the team create?  What example can you set in terms of integration?