What to Know BEFORE Focusing on Technology

Know Your Objectives Before Becoming More ‘Social’

I came across an exceptionally good article the other day on a site called BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network, titled “Want a Strong Digital Strategy? Stop Focusing on Technology” by David Rogers, a digital marketing strategist. (Yes, this is that CBS, the same entity behind “Two and a Half Men,” “Two Broke Girls” and the never-ending “Survivor.”)

Rogers’ main idea is that you should have your objectives clear before embarking on your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/blog forays. “Are you trying to reach new customers?” he asks “Drive sales to current customers? Reduce your operating costs? Or introduce a breakthrough product or service? Today’s digital tools can be used for a wide variety of marketing objectives.”

What I like about Rogers’ article is that he gives a current example for each of his 14 digital marketing objectives. If you want to gain customer insight, he points to drug maker UCB helping to launch “an online community for epileptics with PatientsLikeMe,” in order to gather data, understand quality of life and measure safety. If you want to increase customer retention, he highlights the SAP Community Network that “brings together 2.5 million partners, employees and customers in an online forum where the sharing of insights and expertise adds great value for SAP customers…” If you want to mitigate reputation risks, Rogers writes that Comcast started @ComcastCares Twitter channel to restore their reputation after bad viral press.

For SIPA members, such advice can be put to good use. In his presentation titled “Preparing for, and Preventing Disasters With Social Media” at the SIPA UK Conference earlier this month, Jeremy Simmons of Incisive Media suggested various ways to mitigate future reputation risk through social media. “Control branded search results before there is a problem,” he wrote. “Be proactive by distributing positive and optimized press releases or video releases every 30 days; optimized social media profiles and interactions will offset any negative publicity. It’s much harder to turn negative into positive.”

If your intent is to increase renewals and retention, then Hayley Ward of Business Monitor International has some ideas for your digital strategy—also presented at SIPA UK.
“Your product is more than a journal! Encourage user participation via blogs, story comments, polls, etc.”
“My Account” functions on websites allow you to gather more information on your customers—include demographic fields for profiling, hot topics they’re interested in right now (to feed back to editorial);
“Editorial updates to encourage online usage.” These can be through any and all of your social media channels, always better when customer comments are made easy.
“Understanding key customer touch points in the life-cycle.” As Rogers writes, forming an online community is a great way to gather customer data and valuable touch points. Once that community or forum is established, you can ask questions, put issues on the table, start discussions, etc.

In those communities, however, “there is a real danger that by developing your social media pages and thinking that an automated feed of updates is enough, you will swiftly lose your audience.” This comes from the SIPA UK presentation on “Building Communities and Developing Membership” delivered by Greg Kilminster of Gambling Compliance and Sarah Jenkins of GRC Thomson Reuters. “Human intervention in moderating and adding to the debate is needed to encourage, stimulate and develop the debate and to ensure activity is frequent and successful.”

In other words, as you embark on your social media campaigns, know also—besides the objectives talked about above—that they won’t run themselves. This will be a big time commitment, and social media works best when it is consistent, when people know you post every day or Tweet after every new article.

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