For the 500,000 people who've been reading our recent reports on the state of Social, Digital & Mobile around the world, the next important question becomes:
"What should my brand do to take advantage of these amazing opportunities?"
To answer that question, and help marketers to translate interest and enthusiasm into action, we're delighted to share a refreshed version of "Making Friends & Influencing People", our popular guide to strategic social media marketing.
This guide is designed to help everyone across your organisation - from you, to your interns, to your CEO - to make the best possible use of social media.
We've split the guide into three parts:
- Some headline statistics to help you set the context when presenting the case for social media to non-marketers;
- The '10 Commendments' - the 'mandatories' for building strong brands in social media;
- Our robust 8-step framework for building a strategic social media plan
The '10 Commendments' deserve a little more introduction though.
First up, the name - and no, it's not a typo. Social media is a welcoming and inclusive place, and instructive commandments would seem out of place, so we prefer 'commendments' - in other words, friendly recommendations and suggestions.
1. Focus On People, Not Technology
Social media is all about interacting with other people. Technologies and platforms are great, but ultimately they're just means to an end, so focus on the human benefits rather than the technological possibilities. (More on this topic here)
2. Build Conversations, Not Campaigns
Many short-term marketing campaigns are like pick-up lines: they're a great way to get the conversation going, but they're hardly a sustainable basis for a long-term relationship. If it's enduring value you're after, think and plan for on-going conversation, not just a quickie. (More on this topic here).
3. Use Content As A Means, Not An End
Content is a fantastic way to start a conversation, but for most brands, it's the conversation that drives the ultimate value. Whenever you're planning or posting content of any kind - whether it's a one-line status update or an hour-long video epic - ask yourself what happens next: "What do I want the audience to do with this content?"
4. Add Value To The Audience's Life
When it comes to social media, a brand isn't just up against its competitors; it's competing with everything in its audience's life: Photos of kittens. Updates from last night's party. Those scandalous celebrity pics. So, if you're not adding distinct value, you'll likely just disappear into the stream. As a result, you need to clearly articulate how you're adding relevant value to the audience in the context of their whole life, not just how you're different to the other brands in your category. (More on this topic here)
5. Listening Is The New Shouting
Understanding people's wants, needs, and desires has always been the foundation of great marketing, but building that understanding at scale has traditionally been too expensive or too complex. That's changed significantly with the advent of social media listening tools, which allow marketers everywhere to stay in touch with what their audiences are talking about, sharing, and in some cases, actually buying - for example, restaurant brands might track the #foodporn hashtag on Instagram to identify the most popular dishes of the moment around the world. However, remember that the tools don't do much on their own - you'll need to analyse and interpret the data before it can add value to your brand. (Find out more here)
6. Spread The Love
Occasionally, brands strike marketing gold, and their audiences share their updates like wildfire. This is the one-in-a-million shot though; if you'd prefer better odds, putting some 'financial amplification' behind your social activities is a more likely way to ensure your investments deliver satisfactory returns. That's not just about ad dollars though - remember that better crafted content is more likely to drive organic sharing too.
7. Be Prepared
The best thing about social media is that everyone can get involved. However, the bigger the crowd, the more likely it is you'll have to deal with different, and sometimes conflicting, views. As the old adage says, "you can't please all of the people all of the time." In reality, there's a very high chance something, somewhere will go wrong someday, so it's better to prepare for that day now than to wait until you're in full-on panic mode. Fortunately, you can read about that in much more detail here.
8. Measure Your Progress
If you're still of the opinion that half of your ad dollars are surely wasted, but you just don't know which half, we've got good news for you: that should never be a problem you face in social media. Sure, you're unlikely to ever reach 100% ad efficiency, but if you're measuring your social media activities properly, you should always know which half of your dollars is working harder for you, so at least you know which dollars to reinvest elsewhere.
9. Optimise As You Go
Following on from the previous Commendment, we have more good news: once you've identified which elements of your social media activities need to be tweaked, it's relatively easy to change them as you go. Even paid media elements can be changed and optimised in real-time.
10. Be In It For The Long Term
Social media success rarely comes overnight, and if it does, it rarely lasts. Social media really is all about relationships, and as with all relationships, you get out what you put in. Invest with a longer-term view, and expect to 'give' plenty before you 'get' something in return. However, by offering a clearly articulated value proposition to your social audiences over time, they're more likely to stay with you over the longer term. If you're wondering about the ROI of that longer-term approach, take a look here.
These may be things you're already practising every day in your social media work, but ensuring the rest of your organisation is on board too will help you succeed.
So, if you'd like to share a copy of the complete Making Friends & Influencing People guide with them, why not download a copy now (simply click here) and send it over to them.