Over the past few months, we've been spending lots of time with senior marketers from some of the world's biggest companies, and our conversations have culminated in a robust and actionable framework that enables brands to seize the opportunities presented by Social Media.
Today, we're delighted to share the core of this new framework with you too.
It builds on our hugely popular Making Friends & Influencing People guide, which sets out We Are Social's principles for effective and efficient Social Media Marketing.
As you'll see in the full 'Sharing Is Caring' deck (above), this framework brings together a wealth of stimuli to help you start planning your own social media strategy, including:
- Best-in class case studies
- We Are Social's core social media marketing principles
- Our powerful 8-Step Process
- Links to a variety of other resources that will help you maintain momentum and start bringing plans to life.
To give you a flavour of our thinking though, here's an overview of our core principles:
Before you do anything, set your business objective: what do social media need to do? Only when you've answered this question should you start to plan your actual approach, as that approach needs to be tailored to deliver these specific results.
1. Start with people, not technology
At its heart, Social Media is a human discipline, not a digital one, and the most powerful social strategies start with the needs of your audience rather than technological platforms and digital novelty.
2. Build conversations, not campaigns
Broadcast comms do a great job of introducing brands through the marketing equivalent of a pick-up line. However, it's difficult to build enduring relationships through one-liners and tag-lines alone. Instead, use social media to build the everyday conversations that deepen bonds with your audience and help to foster a real sense of brand affinity.
3. Use content as a means, not an end
As Cory Doctorow says, "Conversation is king; content is just something to talk about." It's true that content is always vital to a conversation strategy, but it's what people do next, as a result of consuming that content, that ultimately delivers brand value.
4. Add value to the audience's life
Spamming people with endless updates about your products through social media is the marketing equivalent of going on a date and only talking about yourself, and is unlikely to produce the desired results. You need to add value to the audience before you can add value to the brand.
5. Listening is the new shouting
The real value in a conversation lies in the listening. The good news is that people share a huge amount of honest and spontaneous information via social media, and there are a variety of tools available that enable marketers to listen to these public conversations and so learn how to deliver better value to their audiences.
6. Spread the love
Building a great social media presence doesn't guarantee that people will come. Like all the best parties, you need to invite people to join in, and to keep the vibe alive once they've arrived. Advertising can help build this momentum, but engaging influencers and inspiring them to engage others is often more effective and more efficient.
7. Always be prepared
Murphy reminds us that if anything can go wrong, it probably will do sooner or later. Social media is a highly public environment, and things can go wrong. However, preparing a 3As plan - Alert, Assess, Act - can mitigate risks and ensure problems (and opportunities) are dealt with in the most effective way possible:
- Alert: set up tools and processes that raise the alarm if certain things happen.
- Assess: have a process in place that ensures the right people can determine the scale of the issue at hand, and what needs to be done about it, by whom, and when.
- Act: define clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands their role and can get moving quickly.
8. Measure your progress
If you can't prove the ROI of social media activities, you probably need to rethink your approach. However, ROI isn't just about sales and revenue, because everyone in the business ultimately contributes to those. When it comes to social media measurement, the important thing is to focus on your objectives, and track how social media is contributing to achieving them.
9. Optimise as you go
Social media are not a 'set-and-forget' environment; the opportunities for constant feedback and effective test-and-learn approaches mean that marketers can optimise their approach with every single activity, post and comment.
10. Make a commitment
When it comes to success in social media, The Supremes had it sussed as far back as 1966: "You can't hurry love." Meaningful relationships always take time to build, and the same is true in social media. Marketers need to make a concerted investment of time, effort and financial resource, but doing so strategically can deliver considerable returns on those investments.
As you may realise as you go though the deck above, the Sharing Is Caring approach is designed to prompt more questions than it answers, but does so from the perspective of ensuring that senior marketers understand which questions and processes can help them to build social media plans that actively contribute to their brands' bottom line.
Critically, the framework delivers its greatest value when we share it in a truly interactive setting, so if you'd like to experience its full power for yourself and see how it can work for your brand, we'd be delighted to come in and present it to you and your teams; simply email us via firstname.lastname@example.org with some background to your brand and the opportunities and challenges you'd like to explore, and we can take the conversation from there.