My last post covered the effective planning of a social media campaign. This next phase of the campaign sees the results of the research being used to inform a social media strategy.
Without a strategy untargeted messages will be posted in channels where the intended audience might not be active. It ensures that there is a common tone of voice used across all the social networks pertinent to the campaign, and that any content posted is relevant. Finally, it determines the results that will measure whether the campaign has been a success or not.
The key stages of strategy development are: monitoring, theme development, channel selection, content planning, setting KPIs and defining the engagement policy. These stages are described below.
The strategy begins with a period of social media monitoring which should last 4 to 6 weeks. This will focus on specific keywords which must be approved by the client before monitoring begins. The keywords should include the client’s company name, brand name (if different), products or service name and two or three other relevant terms.
Set up a profile in your monitoring software and save the search terms to it. Check each day for mentions and delete any spam or irrelevant posts. When the monitoring period concludes you will have a list of channels in which people are mentioning the keywords and an understanding of what people are talking about in terms of the client’s brand and their sector.
Next, create a grid or spreadsheet with the social media channels across the top with the comments for each channel below. Give each comment a sentiment score, either positive, negative or neutral then group the comments according to their emotional slant. Are any trends emerging, or is a common feeling either positive or negative apparent across specific channels? These will be used to inform the content strategy and social channels in the upcoming steps.
Select the campaign theme and social channels
At this point the overall theme of the campaign can be developed. This will be based upon all the factors uncovered in the planning process:
- Client requirements
- Client and competitor analysis
- Social media benchmarking
- The results of social media monitoring
- SWOT analysis
The theme of the campaign will differ between projects but will usually feature a campaign hub or centre of influence which is the principal focus of the social media work. This could be a blog, microsite, Facebook page, YouTube channel and so on. The main campaign activity will be to develop tactics to drive people to the campaign hub.
The theme will determine the overall strategy of the campaign and will be developed in collaboration between the agency and the client.
The budget for the campaign will be produced at this point and presented to the client for approval. There may be different iterations of the campaign theme before the final client approval.
Develop a content plan
The content plan defines the type of content that they client will post to social media channels, how it used and when it should be used. It will be governed by various factors including:
- Existing content types
- The client’s business (technical firms will usually benefit from blogs)
- The client’s customer base (will they prefer video content to text?)
- The campaign theme (is it to educate or entertain?)
An example content plan might be:
- Blogging used for technical articles
- Video used for educational purposes
- Facebook for promoting new blogs and videos
- Twitter to break down blog articles into 140 character tweets
Developing a content strategy starts with keyword analysis which uncovers the language that the client’s audience or community is using while on the social web. There are two reasons for this. First, by knowing the phrases people are using you can ensure your content follows a similar trend. Second, for SEO purposes; blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook messages are now indexed by search engines.
The keyword analysis begins with a list of words or phrases that you found during the monitoring stage or believe the audience is using to find the client’s products or services. Load these terms into a keyword search tool such as Wordtracker or Google AdWords which allows you to discover related keywords that you may not have thought about.
Group the keywords according to any specific products, services or brands. These will help form status messages, tweets, blog posts etc. made during the campaign.
The KPIs will be used to monitor the ROI of the campaign. They must be measurable and attainable and should be relevant to the goals laid out during the requirements gathering exercises.
Examples of KPIs are:
- Increase website traffic by X% within the first 6 months
- Uplift in online sales by X% by June 2012
- Improve search engine rankings and get on page 3 or better of Google for specific target keywords
- Increase lead generation by X% per month
- Reduce customer acquisition costs by X% before June 2012
The KPIs must be agreed with the client before the campaign begins.
By planning how fans or customers are engaged in social channels you ensure that a common tone and style is used whoever replies on the client’s behalf. Engagement planning involves:
- Agreeing a tone of voice
- Developing engagement policy
- Identifying internal social media champions
- Planning the social media workload
- Social media maturity plan
Agreeing a tone of voice
The tone of voice (TOV) determines the way that fans and followers are spoken to in social channels. It will differ from campaign to campaign and between brand sectors. For example, the TOV for an entertainment brand will be far less formal than for a professional services company. By and large, though, the TOV will be friendly, polite and professional.
Developing engagement policy
The purpose of the engagement policy is to establish standards and expectations regarding the client’s use of social media. The policy advises all parties on how to engage in social media activities; providing instructions on what to say and what no to say. It defines the circumstances when the agency joins a conversation on the client’s behalf, or when the client directly responds to comments.
Identifying internal social media champions
The social media champions are those individuals within the client’s organisation who are responsible for taking part in social media activity. They should be selected jointly by the agency and the client in terms of:
- Appropriateness (are they senior enough within the organisation to act as representatives? Do they understand the business and its products and services thoroughly?)
- Role (social media can involve a range of departments across a business, e.g. marketing, sales, customer service and HR)
- Experience (are they active in social channels already? Do they use Facebook and Twitter etc. personally?)
Planning the social media workload
Social media engagement should be shared by the agency staff and the client’s social media champions. The agency’s role will be to monitor the various social channels to discover conversations relevant to the client. They will then decide whether to ignore them, reply in public, reply in private or escalate to the appropriate client representative.
The majority of social media engagement should be carried out by the client’s social media champions. Why take this approach? Because however experienced an agency is, they will never understand a client’s business as well as its own staff.
Social media maturity plan
Social media activity can be very time consuming, requiring a lot of effort to keep up to date. Many organisations have taken a scatter gun approach and have tried to push messages out through many social channels at once. Often the combination of intensive work and the management of multiple communication mechanisms has led to companies abandoning their social media efforts before they have had a chance to bear fruit.
A better approach is to incrementally build up the activity over time as the client becomes more comfortable carrying out social media activity and begins to see a return on their investment.
The social media strategy establishes the extent of the social media activity used to attain goals determined by the client and through research carried out during the project planning phase. It requires that an audience is identified, along with the social media channels they are consuming, and the language they are using. It also defines when the agency becomes involved in a conversation and when the client responds directly.
The next post in this series will explain how social media channels can be set up for a campaign.