How to Align Social Media Goals with Your Overall Business Strategy
Welcome to StratPad’s first guest blog. In this space, we feature writers who offer fresh perspectives and practical contributions to the conversation on strategy. We’re thrilled and honored to have Katherine Leonard, award-winning blogger at lonelybrand, to start us off .
From product design to hiring, all good plans spring from strategy. That being said, it should come as no surprise that the best social media marketing plans are directly tied to overall business strategy. All too often though, businesses jump into the world of social media purely for the sake of “doing social.” As many businesses have discovered, a disconnect between social media and business goals results in noise, not progress.
To combat this issue, let’s take a look at the process for aligning social media activity with overall business strategy. We’ll cover the general steps with a running example of how the process should work.
First and foremost, take a look at your overall business strategy. Since worthwhile social media efforts should directly align with these goals, a quick refresh of your overall strategy will get you in the right mindset and deter any premature leaps into tactical thinking.
For example, let’s say your overall business strategy is:
We will double the number of North American retail outlets in high-income urban areas by December 2014.
With your strategy in front of you, pick and choose the elements that could reasonably benefit from the influence of social media. We’re starting big here, so try thinking on a departmental basis and ask: “How could social media help department x support our overall business strategy?” The thought process should be along the lines of, “There’s no use for Facebook or Twitter in accounting, but it could be a great supplement to customer service efforts.”
For a running example, let’s say you decide that social media would be a nice complement to your efforts in human resources.
Now let’s get a bit more specific and identify the actual business objectives you want to work toward with social media. It’s important to bypass fluffy goals like “build awareness” – these are hard to execute and measure. Instead, focus on grounded business objectives; you want to end up with a list of tangible ambitions such as collect qualified leads or decrease customer service inquiries to the call center.
In our example, a business objective within the HR department could be to recruit new talent.
Note that Step 4 is the first time that social media activities have actually entered the conversation. Now that we’re here, it’s time to tap the digitally savvy members of your team to figure out how to work toward your defined objectives using social media. Specificity is essential at this point, so substitute broad thinking like “build a Facebook business page” for smaller, executable projects. Focus on a specific type or series of activities with one call to action that matches the goal selected in Step 3. Your tactic should be specific enough to build a daily workflow for execution.
For our human resources example we could build a custom Facebook app that candidates use to apply for open positions.
Meaningful web analytics are essential for monitoring and optimizing social media efforts. Without them, you’ll never know whether you’re running an ingenious campaign or wasting everyone’s time. A quality metric gives credit strictly where credit is due, so look for mechanisms that tie the desired action directly back to your specific social campaign. Use Google Analytics or your platform of choice to segment conversions according to original source.
In our example we would track the number of job applications that were submitted directly through the Facebook tab. Other sources and conversions like applications from the company website and general Facebook traffic do not belong in this dataset.
So there you have it: a meaningful social media marketing campaign is based on real, measurable business objectives from beginning to end. Given this five-step process, our example looks like this:
We will focus on the human resources department with the goal of recruiting new talent. We’ll work towards this goal by building a Facebook jobs tab where candidates can apply directly on Facebook. Finally, we’ll measure progress by tracking the number of job applications completed through the Facebook tab.
About Katherine Leonard: Previously a Community Manager for Paciugo Chicago, Katherine now works as a Digital Content Developer at lonelybrand where she helps B2B audiences learn more about the agency culture and expertise. Visit the lonelybrand blog for daily digital marketing news, tutorials and case studies.