One Way to Explain a Corporate Social Media Strategy

Recently i was asked by a prospective client to help explain social media to her senior executives in a way that they would understand. She asked me to keep it to a page or two. I wanted to get across the benefits of social media but I also wanted to address some common misunderstandings that people have when it comes to participation and measuring ROI. Here’s a version of what I gave her with all the company references taken out. I’d love to hear any feedback. Best regards, Stephen >>>

Corporate Social Media Strategy

One of the strengths of social media is that it attracts enthusiastic and influential community members into publicly accessible & searchable networks. Within these networks, people share thoughts and observations and engage in conversations, sometimes directly coinciding with a particular need for a product (like a discussion where someone mentions difficulty in finding a good Internet access provider in the area, for example). Other times, the conversation may relate more to practical issues that identify a person or group as part of a certain target market or segment (for example, an active blogging community discussing farming conditions in a region, or broader farming related topics). These conversations not only provide insight into the community at large, but also provide an opportunity to research, target, and positively engage with an audience.

Strategic monitoring of and participation in consumer generated media conversations represents a competitive edge for companies trying to:

  1. Build a closer relationship with or understanding of the customer

  2. Improve search engine rankings, increase brand awareness

  3. Establish thought leadership.

  4. Stay in front of issues

  5. Learn from customer insights

  6. Monitor for consumer sentiment about their brand.

The beauty of a social media strategy is that all or some of these benefits can be accomplished with a single strategy. It all depends on goals and resources.

Also see: Corporate Blogging Survey Executive Summary 

Misunderstandings in Social Media

The value of social media engagement is often misunderstood by people who are accustomed to a mass marketing approach or online media metrics. One of the common mistakes companies can make when attempting to tap this opportunity is to perceive this access as way to jump in and talk about their products or value proposition and create linkage to a particular promotion. It’s easy to realize why this approach is wrong if you understand that the reason people read blogs is to find real opinions and to know what their contemporaries are thinking. Blog readers generally approach blogs in this way:

  1. Blogging is an opportunity to take part in a conversation or start one.

  2. Bloggers are willing to hear from your corporation but they don’t’ want ‘corporate speak’ or a sales pitch.

  3. They will appreciate it if you respect their community.

  4. In a crisis situation they want you to address their concerns even if you don’t have the answers.

The third attribute, respect, is an important tactic to keep in mind. You show respect by researching the topic and community before entering the discussion. Readers will be more receptive if you can reference previous comments or posts from the community to add insight or thought leadership to the conversation that is already active in their community. Essentially, a great social media strategy focuses on becoming a great corporate blogger

Also see:Ten Tips for Becoming a Great Corporate Blogger).

What Successful Bloggers Do

Blogging is more than just writing. There is a lot of legwork involved with putting a post together and promoting it after it has been published.

Here is a fictitious successful blogger named Amanda B. Reckondwyth (thanks Car Guys). Amanda is passionate about her topic, she knows her community and monitors over 60 related blog feeds on a daily basis. She’s looking for conversations and comment threads that intersect with her or her company’s interests, monitoring news, industry buzz and specific bloggers that she regards as authorities to an audience that she cares about. Amanda is also watching for specific keywords. When she sees a blog post, comment thread, or something in the news that sparks her interest, Amanda writes a blog post about it or visits the respective blog and leaves an insightful comment.

  • If Amanda writes a comment, her name and URL are attached and provide her with a link, credit and visibility.

  • If Amanda writes a post, she will cite (provide a hyperlink to) her sources, categorize it, add keyword tags, and publish. Automatically this then pings the social media search engines and alerts the people that have subscribed to her blog’s feed. The post is also picked up in the major search engines.

  • Before or after publishing, Amanda may also do some outreach to notify certain bloggers about the post and solicit their input.

  • Amanda knows her audience and therefore her comment or post addresses something that is more likely to generate attention and discussion.

  • Because Amanda is a successful blogger, her community knows who she is. She has the credibility within her community, thereby giving her content a better chance of propagation.

  • The bloggers that she has reached out to have now publicized the post’s existence to their audiences and it is attracting readership. People start to comment and Amanda stays engaged with the conversation until it has run its course.

  • Finally, the posts and ensuing threads stay online as content that can continue to draw attention in the future.

Success breads success. The more successful Amanda is in her blogging efforts the more people react and pickup on her stream of thinking. Practically speaking this creates a snowballing increase in readership and blogger citations (links) and all the other benefits of a successful social media strategy.

Also See:
What Should Every Company Be Monitoring @ the NewPR/wiki
Blogging Success Study we conducted with Northeastern University

Measuring Social Media Success

Many marketers will look at the engagement as simply an interaction between finite groups of people (two or several) that may be viewed by tens, hundreds or thousands of people over time. Basic online marketing metrics such as unique visitors, impressions, search traffic, conversion rates will only tell part of the story.

With a strategic approach, each engagement will be designed to support multiple goals at once. Successful encounters can result in a number of benefits ranging from heightened brand awareness through word of mouth buzz, to customer insights that improve your products. Here are some suggested methods for measuring return.

  • Goal: Dramatically Increase volume of leads from the website via organic search.
    Measurement: Set tracking cookie on incoming visitors to the blog down to specific conversion points.

  • Goal: Dramatically increase company’s brand awareness and thought leadership presence.
    Measurement: Track brand mentions via traditional and online media sources, and blogs. Also track requests media interviews and speaking opportunities.

  • Goal: Dramatically Increase volume of leads.
    Measurement: Set tracking cookie on incoming visitors to the blog down to specific conversion points.

  • Goal: Optimize the blog to give it the best chance of attaining top organic search positions for the most relevant keywords.
    Measurement: Weekly website position reports compared with benchmark web position reports.

  • Goal: Dramatically increase online link popularity.
    Measurement: Improved search engine rankings compared with benchmark web position reports.

  • Goal: Improved connection with the customer.
    Measurement: Benchmark and analyze the volume and content of comments on your blog and on blogs that you do not control.

Also see these posts regarding Social Media and Blogging ROI:
Calculating ROI of Blogging is Easier than it Looks
Mounting a PR Case for Blogging ROI from an SEO Perspective

Blogging ROI Proof is for Pansies

Tags: benefits of social media, blogging tips, corporate blogging strategy, social media strategy
Filed under: Blogging ROI, Blogging Strategy, Blogging Tips

Posted by Stephen Turcotte on August 17, 2007 1:00 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

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