LEsson Four: The Satellite Marketing Process

 

Step 1: Identifying Goals

Whenever I think of goals, I remember a bumper sticker that read, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” This sticker was placed next to a bunch of other stickers on a car bumper whose make I can’t even remember, but the message always stuck with me.

Author Simon Sinek’s* book, Start With Why, is, indeed, a good place to start when we look to social media for business. In it, Sinek helps us “identify the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.” Admittedly, the book is about getting to the “why” of a brand proposition or to the “why” of a tactic. Still, many of the ideas he presents have their application in individual strategies you’re developing to support your brand.  So, tell me – why social?

What do you hope to accomplish using social media? Why can’t other media be used to do the same? And how will you know when you have accomplished what you set out to achieve? These are the types of questions that have to get answered before any others. If you don’t answer these questions now, you will not know where you are going, and you will not know how to get there or when (hopefully) you’ve arrived.

Step 2: Understanding Your Audience

Understanding your audience has always been the single most critical component of any successful strategy, and a social media strategy is no different. Knowing with whom you’re speaking to determines what to say and how to say it.

Most businesses can’t say “everybody is our customer” (not even the cable company) as there are basic criteria that reduce “everyone” to categories with segmented characteristics.

Your audience is people. Whether you call them prospects, suspects, customers or advocates, they are all people you are trying to communicate with to reach your business goals. They are men, women – maybe even kids – of different ages, incomes, ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations. They (and others) may be current users of social media and could potentially become part of the network you will create.

To fully understand your audience, start by detailing the different people within it. Think about the different prospects, the different customers, the different suppliers and resources that want to engage: Trade associations, colleagues, partnerships, the media. Even regulatory bodies like the government and industry-specific organizations may have a part in your social media success. Budget permitting, hire a research firm to gather the empirical data. Accounting for all of your potential audiences is critical, and knowing as much as you can about them is the key to successful communication.

Step 3: Creating A Strategy

At this point in the process, you know what you want to accomplish (refer to established Goals), and we know the people in your audience (refer to User Profiles). So how do we get these people to help accomplish your goals?

This is where the strategy comes in.

Strategy is generally defined as a high-level plan to achieve goals. What are not generally defined, however, are the conditions of uncertainty that exist in achieving goals.

A good strategy will include a well thought out, step-by-step plan of how a business is going to accomplish its goals. It will use the resources available within the budget agreed upon based on what it has learned from past experiences and what it knows today from best practices – but there are still no guarantees. A plan, every plan, even the best plan, is a best guess of what will happen in the future. It is not a purchase agreement for results.

There may be the likelihood in the plans you’ll develop or a probability or some degree of predictability, but know that nothing in business is certain. Be prepared to tend to your plan, to monitor the success of your strategy by evaluating the metrics assigned to each goal. As you learn more, you’ll adjust the plan in response to the new information and experience. A good strategy is well represented as a “living document,” a document that will change, for the better, over time. Remember Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Over time there is a “natural selection” that facilitates evolution. It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

Step 4: Selecting Social Media

Based on your goals and your audience, you’re now looking to select the social media networks and sites that can support your strategy.

As you begin, a special consideration should be given to your audience’s perception of social media.  Not all social media is created equal, and in your audience’s mind, they may not all serve the same purpose. Consider that just because you’re looking for them does not mean they’re looking for you or expecting uninvited guests.

Each type of social media provides unique opportunities to support your strategy by helping reach your audience and by supporting the actions you’ve identified as important.

Social Networking sites enable people to connect with other people—to establish a channel of communication. These sites are helpful in building relationships with current customers and creating engagement with new prospects by sharing messages, information and links to other resources on the Internet. They are the basis of a social network and can form the core of a business’ social media platform.

Content Sharing sites help people share different types of information and media. Pictures, graphics, video, presentations, audio, music, et al.—all types of content for all types of people looking for a type of media or subject matter.

Collaboration sites help people create influence, generate capital gain or collaborate on an enterprise level. Working one-on-one or in groups, working side-by-side or in shifts, people can contribute to a common effort to achieve a business’ goals.

Step 5: Building Engagement

The appeal of social media to business has always been the invitation to “join the conversation.” People are already talking about what you’re selling – somewhere – and they may want to learn more, but most businesses don’t understand that “join the conversation” does not mean “sell me your products and services.” It means there is a current conversation in progress, and you’re welcome to participate – just like in a real-world conversation between different people – but mind your manners.

Bad manners, blatant intrusions and inappropriate language are not acceptable in public, in a restaurant or in a place of business and are surely not acceptable on social media.

You come to social media with business goals. People come to social media seeking engagement. The challenge is mapping business goals to the types of engagement your audience will positively respond to (i.e., in a way that completes your activities and helps you reach your goals).

To engage users in a social network means to attract the audience you seek, to draw them into a conversation and to hold their attention over a period of time. This definition also serves as the foundation of an ongoing social media strategy.

Attracting an Audience

The social media profile presents a visual representation of you (or your business), but your content, behavior and conversation are your substance. The words you share become your voice, the pictures you show become your face and the way you interact with others – if you interact with others – becomes your visible personality. This, altogether, is the social media version of you, and it constitutes what you’re offering to your target markets.

Draw them into a Conversation

Sharing the right content and asking the right questions can start a conversation. Doing so over time keeps demonstrating who you are to your audience and what they can expect from a conversation. Because social communication goes both ways, it’s important for a business to manage the conversation. A business needs to be there when something is said (monitoring) and answer, in a timely fashion, when a question has been asked (response). This socially expected behavior is required to engage the audience in a way that keeps the discussion active. Acknowledge the people who are your contributors, manage their comments and facilitate the conversations between you and them to serve your goals.

Hold Attention Over Time

Holding their attention over a period of time is dependent upon the amount of time required relative to your business goals. The type of product or service your company provides and the strength of your brand really dictates if people come and go (Like Snuggies – the blanket with sleeves. Remember?) or if they participate with your brand over time, like Coca-Cola (everybody knows Coca-Cola). Like any audience, you will gain new people and you’ll lose some, but you’ll always want to gain volume – and you need to if you ever expect to create real (statistical) engagement.

Step 6: Communications Planning

Creating engagement with an audience over time just doesn’t happen. Somebody executed a well thought-out plan.

A successful communications professional will have a document that shows what they have planned, when it goes live and how long it impacts their audience.  Adding budgets and hours, you would have a document that keeps every department in the company on time and on task. With every budget dollar critical, it would be irresponsible to not have something in place.

A communications plan is a detailed document that addresses how you will communicate with your target audience to achieve your goals. It’s a 10,000-foot view of how a business integrates communications across all channels to its target audiences, providing a demonstration of strategy – in advance – for consideration, including hours, costs and resources required. Shared throughout the company, everyone works from the same page to execute the tasks necessary to complete the actions that bring it closer to reaching its goals.

A communications plan demonstrates best practices from all types of communications: marketing, branding, advertising, social media, multimedia, Internet, public relations, events – everything. Each effort, internal or external, is examined for opportunity and integrated, when appropriate, with other channels to generate the greatest reach, the biggest impact and the maximum return on investment.

Step 7: Measuring Performance

Literally, measuring performance is simply evaluating what we have done against the goals we’ve already defined, against the plan we put in place, to reach the audience we have defined, and using the metrics we’ve already agreed upon. It’s the measurement of the manner in which the mechanism of own our design performs. But it’s not just measuring the performance of content and technology, it’s people, too, and how well we communicate. It’s the measurement of the actions on both sides of the relationship and throughout the community. The human element is what makes this hard.

Figuratively, which is sometimes more succinct, it’s telling a story about what we have accomplished. In defining “performance,” I feel compelled to note that the most frequent references I had identified during my research had been those for “the performing arts” – in reference to a cast performing a play. I can’t help but acknowledge the irony in the definitions.

Exercise

Step 1: Identifying Goals

Establish goals for your social media. Depending on how many goals you’ve identified and what’s required to achieve them, you may consider addressing goals in separate phases: a different time, a different budget, perhaps a different market. The point is you don’t have to address your goals all at once. You should only address those you know you can achieve.

Step 2: Understanding Your Audience

Organize your audience into different categories, then explore each category by creating a category profile that represents their generalities. The general characteristics will allow you to better understand the people within the category as you make decisions that include them. Document your current understanding of the audience by creating a list of each type of user profile. Segment each audience by general characteristics, but if important subtleties exist, label them as such.

Step 3: Creating A Strategy

Formulate a strategy for your business that builds off the goals and audience categories already completed. Identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for your business. This information will provide the basis for your discussion, evaluation and prioritization. Selecting a portion of these to address within a specified time parameter will provide a framework for your communications planning.

Step 4: Selecting Social Media

Based on your goals and your audience (demographics and psychographics), select the social media networks and sites that can support your strategy. As you consider your goals, consider your audience profiles and their perception of social media both from your research and your role-play. Once your selections have been completed, create your social media profiles (or update the profile you already have).

Step 5: Building Engagement

Launch your social media profiles throughout your organization. Share the platforms and the links to your profiles with every person in your organization to attract your initial audience of supporters. The people who have an interest in the organization’s success most often will support their organization, demonstrating to others the profile is attracting an audience.

Announce your social media platforms and provide links to each of the profiles on external communications, like email footers, websites, marketing collateral and word of mouth. Anywhere your business has an address and a phone number probably has room for a social media icon or a link to your social media profile. The people who are already part of your audience will now know that you have extended your channels of communication and may choose to participate with you in other ways. The people who already support your business in the real world are the most likely to first support you online.

Monitor the people who are the first to like, follow or subscribe, as they are the early adopters to your audience. Make sure you are attracting the internal and external supporters you have invited (to confirm this is going as planned), and mind the others who will appear and note where they fit within your audience profiles. Macro-manage the audience growth (start with quantity) as you’re looking to demonstrate you have an audience, then work to micro-manage.

Step 6: Communications Planning

Develop a plan for communicating with your audience for a week that includes all of your social media profiles. This plan will account for the types of content most engaged by your audience (as observed in your monitoring) and all actions will be mapped to helping you reach your goals.

Determine how many times throughout the week you will communicate with each audience (frequency) based on the social media platform (research) and what you know about your audience’s behavior (demographics, psychographics, role play) on social media.

For each item on the plan, determine which of your goals it would best support (there may be more than one). As you look to these assignments, note what percentage of actions is being allocated to each goal. Review the total week to confirm all goals have been represented, and agree that the frequency of communication has been distributed properly across each social media platform to address each goal. Estimate how much time will be required to complete each action and confirm you have the resources available to execute the plan (at this point).

Step 7: Measuring Performance

Remember, measuring performance is simply evaluating what we have done against the goals we’ve already defined, against the plan we put in place, to reach the audience we have defined, and using the metrics we’ve already agreed upon.

  1. Measure the execution of the Plan.
  2. Measure the Engagement with the audience.
  3. Review the Social Media selected to reach the target audience.
  4. Review the Strategy Overview.
  5. Review the Audience being targeted.
  6. Measure the progress toward the established Goals.