So you’ve decided to tap into the world of corporate social media marketing. Easy, right? Just throw someone in charge of setting up a Facebook account, Twitter is next and done. No problem. Wait…what are you going to consistently post about? How will your customers react? Will this change how you do business with them or your business partners? Maybe we need to put a bit more strategic thought into this after all.
At least you’ve decided to start the process and take the online plunge. The term “groundswell approach avoidance syndrome” (groundswell, 2011) refers to an obsessive interest in all things social media, including competitors or new technologies, but real anxiety over the actual participation in the digital world. Some people feel they should join but the actual action of taking part keeps getting postponed for various reasons. If there is one thing that is certain it’s that social media isn’t going anywhere, it’s not a fad and it should be taken seriously when creating strategic goals. Let’s participate…wisely.
In order to have a clear and successful experience, it’s best to treat this like any other company initiative and make a plan. It’s a great idea to have a vision of your success in mind but be warned that there are certain factors that should be taken into account before rushing in. The following four step POST process enables you to plan it out to better ensure its success. People – Objectives – Strategy – Technology.
The first step is to analyze your customers and how they do business. As previously mentioned, determining the Social Technographics of your consumers is the best method of really knowing their habits and preferences, so you can provide the best outlet for them to communicate and engage. Maybe your target market participates actively online or maybe they are purely spectators. This is important to know. It would be a huge loss if after all your planning, you realized that getting the information TO your customers was an issue. And don’t forget about the people behind the business to business relationships. Just like consumers are grouped by likes and dislikes, habits and other similarities, these people are grouped based on job title, or responsibilities. Businesses don’t interact – people do (groundswell, 2011).
Next, it’s important to set actual goals and objectives. What is it that you see as your preferred outcome? As with any plan, having a detailed goal will help determine the best strategy. Maybe generating sales is the hope, or increasing awareness and reach of an important message. Look at your current company goals and expand on those. Whatever the end goal is, make note of it and keep it in mind while creating your strategy.
That brings us to the most important step, your Strategy. Having a goal and understanding your customers is a start, but without a sequential, thoughtful plan, your efforts may be wasted and your customers’ engagement stagnant. How do you see your relationship with your customers changing (groundswell, 2011) and how will you accomplish this? Perhaps your main strategy is Listening, by doing a varied form of research, to gain more insight and better understanding of your target market’s thoughts. Maybe Talking is a better approach, allowing you to spread your important message to new customers and expand to more interactive channels (groundswell, 2011). Energizing your consumers is difficult but can be accomplished by finding those most enthusiastic and proud and willing to share their stories, where word of mouth is key. Supporting your audience can be important if your corporate service and support costs are high and you’re hoping to bring your members together to support each other. If Embracing is your strategy, you’ve likely already had success with one or more of the actions already listed and are looking to really use your consumers’ knowledge and engagement to your advantage, to help improve your designs or methods. A few pointers when creating the strategy include to start small, look for feedback and build on that. Really think it through; how will programming or business plans change? Place someone in charge that has experience and seniority. And finally, choose your technology partners wisely.
Whatever strategy you choose, choose wisely! It will help you in the long run by providing metrics to analyze your success and hopefully gain you more buy-in from executives and management to move forward.
That leaves us with the LAST step, Technology. I know, I know. You’ve already chosen the preferred technologies and they’re at the top of the project summary. My advice to you is…clear them from your mind until you’ve determined the first three steps; People, Objectives and Strategy. As we’ve all seen, technologies change so rapidly that your plan needs to be flexible and have wiggle room for these changes. Don’t make a Facebook plan, but rather a social media plan. Remember, chasing the technology (groundswell, 2011) can lead to the “groundswell-approach-avoidance-syndrome” I mentioned earlier……so be careful. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when solely looking at the technologies.
POST in Action
If we apply this process to a non-profit organization, like the Centre for Family Literacy in Edmonton, we can map out these important POST steps. This organization is committed to helping build, develop and improve literacy in Alberta. Their Vision is “A healthy, literate society where all are able to contribute and succeed” and Mission, “to build, develop, and improve literacy with families and communities” (Centre For Family Literacy). They had me hooked once I received a “Grow Into Literacy” chart when my son was born, where I added a photo as he grew from 6 weeks to 5 years, while being reminded of early literacy tips and habits.
To start off our plan, let’s look at the People. Their successful programs and services are targeted towards two main consumer types; adults who struggle with literacy and families with young children just starting out, while their important message and vision is targeted towards potential volunteers, donors and partners. Adults struggling to read may have a lower tendency to take part in the groundswell, or be solely Spectators. Families could have a varied participation in social media, but likely be Spectators or even Joiners due to their interest in literacy programs. Both adults and families choosing literacy would benefit from word of mouth or partner engagement such as the local library or the community League. Potential volunteers and donors may be more likely to have a higher tendency to visit and contribute to social networking sites, being Joiners or even Critics.
In regards to Objectives, let’s look at a few of the organization’s current goals (Centre For Family Literacy, 2016) and see how they can translate into a Social Media plan.
- Adults will improve their literacy skills
- Parents and program providers will increase opportunities and support for children’s language and literacy devel
- Individuals and agencies providing adult literacy, skill development, and family literacy opportunities in Edmonton and across Alberta will receive training and support
Since one of the tips for creating a strategy is start small, it’s best if we just tackle one target market initially. For example, targeting parents who are interested in improving their own literacy as well as starting their children on the right path which would in turn increase the reach of the current programming and support. This strategy example can be incorporated into a social media plan by “Talking” and using new interactive channels to communicate the messages. After this plan sees some feedback and engagement, perhaps the next step would be to target partners who provide similar programs, like the Edmonton Public Library (EPL), and increase their awareness of the latest research and training.
The Technology of choice to complete this initial Talking strategy could be Twitter and Facebook. They could communicate program highlights, contests, events, literacy facts and research and share similar organizations’ updates and interesting stories. A next step could be a blog, which could then also be highlighted on the Twitter and Facebook pages. Their current strategy utilizes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and they have an interesting blog. They’ve even created their own App called Flit, Families Learning and Interacting Together, to help with the development of literacy.
I think it’s fair to say that they have done an amazing job at taking their objectives and strategies over into their social media planning. The Centre for Family Literacy has incorporated the Intellectual (literacy skills), Emotional (family interaction) and Social (stronger community networks) aspects of literacy into their message (Centre For Family Literacy, 2016).
POST for Success
With a successful POST process you can ensure you will be ready for a long term social media plan that you can incorporate into your company’s strategic vision. Choose strategy over technology and you won’t regret it!
(Charlene Li, J. B. (2011). groundswell. Forrester Research, Inc.
(2016, 06). Retrieved from Centre For Family Literacy: http://www.famlit.ca/
Centre for Family Literacy. (2013, 01 25). Retrieved from YouTube:
Centre for Family LIteracy. (2016, 01 25). Retrieved from YouTube: https://youtu.be/N9z8Cazu03w