MAD Perspectives Blog

The Power of LInkedIn

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, May 08, 2012

161 Million members in over 200 countries, with 2 new members joining per second.  Wow!  This represents over 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches in 2011.  So, this begs the question - how do you use LinkedIn? My friends and colleagues all know that I am a big fan (and for complete disclosure, i do own a few shares of LNKD). The common perception is that LinkedIn is a career networking site. It provides individuals with a mechanism to display their professional talents and find a new job. It helps recruiters find the best talent. It helps sales teams uncover network links to key decision makers.  These are all fantastic uses of LinkedIn.

But, have you thought about using LinkedIn to do market analysis? Or, to empower your employees? Here at MAD Perspectives, we use LinkedIn to pursue new business, learn about market trends, share thoughts and stay connected to colleagues. We have posted questions in groups to learn about new technologies.  We have answered questions posted in LinkedIn Answers. We have also leveraged LinkedIn to fulfill client projects, some directly tied to LinkedIn, others using the power of the network.

Check out our case studies:

     - LinkedIn for Competitive Analysis

     - LinkedIn for Accelerating Sales

     - LinkedIn for Solution Consulting Services

Social media has changed the way we share and obtain information at the the personal and business levels. Each of the social networks adds value to how we communicate and stay in contact with friends, companies and colleagues. It's up to each of us to determine how these platforms can best serve us. Don't be afraid to be creative!

What's your perspective?

The Social Media Kaleidoscope

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 07, 2012

All it takes is a little twist to shift the picture in a kaleidoscope. Your digital media strategy is like a kaleidoscope with a variety of targets, participants, content and platforms. The challenge is in how to adapt to the shifts. Sharon Salzberg said "Life is like an ever shifting kaleidoscope. A slight change and all patterns alter." Social media is influencing the shape of new patterns everywhere.

Think about a kaleidoscope. If one crystal shifts, the whole pattern changes.  Each pattern is beautiful in its own way, yet we prefer some of them more than others. But, we can never get back to that one special pattern. Social media has the same impact. Each statement we make, each comment we receive shifts market perception. Sometimes these shifts are minor while other times these shifts are dramatic!  Fear of a changing pattern has inhibited many companies from embracing social media in a meaningful way. I would argue that a different perspective, is not necessarily a bad perspective. We can learn from our customers, takes lessons from disappointments and adapt to new perspectives.

The plethora of established (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and emerging (Pinterest) social platforms can create confusion as to which networks can best help businesses achieve their goals. As always, it's about alignment of objectives. Shifting markets, expectations and technologies force a shift in the use of content and technology. However, the constant is in defining a strategy that is reviewed on a regular basis. Any strategy can be tweaked based on its success or failure. This tweaking can be considered the twisting of the kaleidoscope.  

Your aim is to find the right mix of traditional communication tools, online video, social media or other solutions to share your valuable content. My kaleidoscope shifts a little bit every day as I try different communication methods, learn from my clients, listen to their customers and adapt their stories to achieve results. I have followed new tweets, unlinked contacts, liked and unliked Facebook pages and adapted my blog to bring insight and value. I still work with clients developing traditional content such as data sheets, powerpoint and white papers. Their audiences demand it. What does your customers need from you? How does your kaleidoscope shift?

What's your perspective?

Top 5 Blog Topics of 2011

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yes, it's that time of year to look back and reflect.  I took some time to see which blog topics garnered the most interest this year.  The list does not surprise me.  As B2B companies figure out their use of social media, they are facing questions of where and how to leverage social networks and interact with customers.  With no further ado, here are the top 5 MAD Perspectives blogs of 2012!

#1 - LinkedIn:  Companies are just beginning to realize that LinkedIn is more than a site for networking to find a job.  It is THE site for professional networking to find decision makers, engage in group discussion on industry topics and amplify your B2B brand.  Of course, it is also the site to represent your personal professional brand.  For enlightened companies who empower and value their employees, there is recognition that a powerful LinkedIn profile reflects positively on an employer.  Employees can provide links to key corporate sites.  A profile reflecting the value an employee provides to customers, reflects the culture embodied by the company.

#2 - Planning:  It is difficult to know if you're successful in any effort if you don't have a plan that defines goals, tactics and metrics.  Social media evolved from a individual consumer perspective.  The very nature of social media is immediate and authentic.  How can a company plan to engage socially without losing a sense of unaffected spontaneity?  It is a challenge for B2B companies as their messaging will always be related to their brand and products.  However, defining your audience and their needs will help in developing a plan to provide the right kind of content via the right communication channel.  Know your brand's voice and identify methods to share that voice.

#3 - Strategy:  You might find it interesting that strategy lagged slightly behind planning in interest.  Strategy and planning are closely related.  As we talked about strategy this year, we spoke specifically about how your social media strategy must be closely aligned with your brand strategy.  If a company does not understand its identity and does not have clear business goals, it is impossible to develop a social media strategy.  Your social strategy must be aligned with and support your company's business goals.  These could range from market awareness to customer support to product innovation.

#4 - Social Analytics:  This is a hot topic as we move into 2012.  This space is expanding beyond the ability to monitor and listen to what your customers are saying.  It is taking that data (and there is a LOT of data) and using it to drive planning.  Acting upon data collected is often the biggest challenge for any company.  The social universe gives companies unprecedented access to honest insight, opinions, and concerns.  Through their online activity on both search engines and social networks, customers are revealing their needs, being influenced by the opinions of others, sharing experiences and changing the entire purchasing process.  A critical part of any social media strategy, is defining how to monitor, capture and act upon social conversations.

#5 - Corporate Culture:  This is a carryover from 2010 and continues to be relevant.  Your company's culture directly impacts how employees will participate socially, if at all.  Command & control organizations who are leveraging social networks lack the authenticity of empowered organizations.  Social updates from hierarchical organization tend to revert to push marketing techniques of notifying customers of events, without inviting interaction.  In fact, this likely reflects fear of the unknown at the executive level.  Companies who empower their employees are creating strong customer communities through honest, ongoing interaction.  

2011 has seen more B2B companies adopting different forms of social media.  The pressure is on to show measurable results in 2012.  This  means that strategy, planning and analyzing will continue to be critical for success in this space.  Social media is useful for more than pure marketing, which seems to be the default entry point.  I'm curious to see if companies will utilize social networks for other purposes such as recruiting (Facebook and LinkedIn will fight to the death on this topic), customer support (in more than a consumer centric model) or product development (prioritizing roadmaps).  Broadening the use of social media may reveal the path to measuring its real success for B2B companies.

What's your perspective? 

Don't Forget the I in Social Media ROI!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

It's that time of year where we take stock of our successes and failures in the past year.  The goal is that success always outweigh failure.  BTW, failure is OK as it is often how we gain the insight required for great success.  It is also the time of year where we are finalizing our plans and commitments for the coming year. In many cases you've probably won agreement to engage (or continue engaging) in social media.  But, there is probably increasing pressure to define the return on your social media investment.

There are a zillion blogs defining the various metrics you can use to measure return.  Here are a few of them:

Similar to other marketing efforts, there are a range of qualitative and quantitative metrics that can be measured.  In all cases, the metrics should be tied to goals which are tied to business objectives.  Nothing new here.  What's interesting to me is the lack of focus on the investment required to achieve those goals and capture defined metrics.  This is the I in ROI.

Social media is often perceived as "free".  However, this ignores real costs such as:

     - Staff - Your team, (e.g, marketing, customer support, management, etc.) must invest time to engage on social networks, write blogs, monitor customer feedback, etc.  As they say, time is money.

     - Technology - Yes, the leading social networks are free of individual use.  However, do you customize your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn pages, use a social media monitoring/analytics/measurement platform to capture conversations and measure influence, use a social media hub to simplify distribution of content across multiple social networks?  If so, these are investments that must be captured.

     - Creative - In order to make your brand stand out, it is often useful to customize your social network presence.  This can include specific images for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other outlets.  It can involve the creation of badges, infographics, slides, videos or other content specifically for social networks.

     - Agency - Large companies often outsource their social media efforts, content creation efforts to agencies.  These costs should be allocated accordingly.

Capturing a meaningful ROI requires attention to detail and an understanding of what it really takes to meet defined goals.  Altimeter Group has an excellent paper outlining a pragmatic path for analyzing social success. As always, strategy first, technology last - with measuring, listening, analyzing and responding always!

Align your social media strategy with your business objectives, integrate it with your marketing plan and figure out how your going to implement and pay for the strategy. Create a plan for social media success.  Figure out the plan to make sure others recognize the value it provides in achieve business goals.  And, don't forget the I in ROI, it's the key to earning the R!

What's your perspective?

Communication Requires Consistency

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 02, 2011

When it comes to making a good roux (pronounced "roo"), it is all about consistency.  it is about combining the right proportions of flour and oil (you pick the oil needed) to create a thickening agent, used in sauces and soups.  A good roux has a silky smooth body, but this is only achieved through patient attention to the process.  That said, each chef may use the ingredients of his choice to create the roux.  Consistency in communication requires the same focus to ingredients, proportion and patience.

In these days of instant and broad communication, using social networks, the internet and email, a focus on consistency is often overlooked.  In fact, it seems that the information shared in the daily news cycle shifts from moment to moment as incremental data is collected and analyzed.  This begs the question as to how any business can create a meaningful communication strategy, that still fulfills the need for authenticity and transparency.

It's all about integration.  Each communication outlet (e.g., website, collateral, events, online, email, social network) serves a different purpose.  Some audiences are unique and many overlap.  However, the representation of your brand and what it stands for must be consistent across each of these outlets.  This means your logo, your voice and your culture must look, sound and feel the same.  It does not mean that the words used to communicate are identical.  It is possible to maintain a consistent voice while communicating in the direct, un-scripted manner expected in social communities.

For example, HP (my favorite target since I worked for them for 24 years) is lacking consistency at the moment.  Their roux is a mess.  There external communications as it relates to corporate strategy has confused shareholders and employees.  Competitors love it when a vendor loses its way, it's an opportunity for them to capitalize on the confused messaging.  Each of HP's CEOs of the last 10 years, has tried to put their personal stamp on the HP logo, strategy and culture.  As a result, the culture, that was bred by its founders, fostered by employees dedicated to innovation and customer satisfaction, and appreciated by the industry, has been lost.

In addition, HP's identity (see our guest blog on Corporate Identity) is unclear.  Are they an enterprise company or a consumer company.  While I understand, and even agree with, the announcements to retain the PSG business (which is where PCs and WebOS reside), this extends the identity crisis.  HP needs to clearly communicate who they are to each of their constituencies and clarify the benefits of providing value to both enterprise and consumer customers.

This benefit of using different communication outlets is to reach a broader set of customers who are interested in your company and its products.  Aligning your communication with their needs is critical.  Continuing to use HP as an example, HP needs to communicate with its enterprise customers via face to face, website, industry specific  communities, industry analysts and online influencers/bloggers.  Regardless of the outlet, they need to reflect consistent value and commitment.  HP's consumer customers are leveraging the social networks to understand HP's commitment to various product lines and future direction for this segment of HP's business. 

HP uses social networks broadly and will, I'm sure, leverage them to respond to customer concerns, reinforce strategic goals and augment communications through other channels.  They use different Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels to reflect each business.  Each of the customers for these businesses have different expectations for what content is communicated.  HP successfully provides the most relevant content to each channel, but perhaps misses the mark when representing the holistic company.  As they work through their current strategic challenges, I only hope they exhibit patience is achieving a level of consistent communication about their goals and the overall benefit to each constituency.

Clarity of goals, consistency of communication, relevant use of communication channels - its a recipe for success. Like a good roux, when developed with patience the results are tasty!

What's your perspective?

HP's Tug of War

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

(caveat:  I am a former HP employee.  The comments below do not reflect any official opinion from HP)

The big news last week was HP's announcement that it MIGHT spin-off its PC business.  It is assumed that this is in response to the appalling sales of the HP TouchPad.  But can the failure of a single, albeit significant, product launch incite the sale of a multi-billion dollar business?  Sure, tablets are replacing laptops in the consumer space.  Why?  Because they are easy to use and enable the consumer to easily find and access the content they desire through the use of apps.

However, HP's PC business is about more than the consumer.  PCs are still used by businesses large and small.  It's not that enterprise workers don't carry a tablet, but ask them how they use it and most will answer that it's great for email and sharing content in the form of a presentation or demos.  But it is not for managing day to day business (i.e., ERP, Supply Chain, RFPs, financial management, etc.)  HP's commercial PC business is thriving and profitable.  In fact, in its recent earnings announcement, HP revealed that revenue from its commercial PC business increased by 9%.

So why all the negativity in the press?  In my opinion, HP's in a persistent state of tug of war - with the many markets it plays in, with its competitors and most importantly with itself.  The market's disappointment is due to several factors. 

1)  HP confuses the market.  It does not easily fit into a single category.  It is both a commercial business and consumer business.  The business models are quite different for each of these markets. While HP enjoys great leverage (call it buying power in the supply chain) due to its wide array for products using Intel, Microsoft and other core technologies, the ultimate use of the resulting products is quite different.

2) HP has an identity crisis.  What does HP want want to be?  Are we the leading provider of PCs and printers or are we a solutions provider to the enterprise?  I can only assume that the difference, between the consumer marketing budget and the enterprise marketing budget, is
dramatic and widely in favor of the consumer budget.  Does HP want to be about price or value?  IT hardware is a commodity business.  Only volume can make it viable.  That was the route pursued by former CEO, Mark Hurd.  Now, Leo Apotheker wants HP to become a software & services company.  And with each new CEO, the plan changes and Board of Directors approves it.  In the social media arena, we talk about identity.  I'm not sure I'd know where to start with HP anymore.

3) HP's intentions are unclear.  Never has this been more true.  The launch and subsequent cancelation of the TouchPad and WebOS is a complete debacle.  HP needs a cohesive strategy that is cut s across all business units.  If that strategy cannot be supported by a business group due to lack of logical alignment, then it might make sense to offload that business group.  For example, if it is HP's LONG TERM (not 3, 6 or 12 months) intention to become a leader in cloud computing and enterprise software, they must align all efforts around that strategy.  HP printers support this strategy with their ePrint capabilities.  Perhaps there is a play for WebOS within this strategy.  Does the Autonomy acquisition support this strategy?  If not, they should forget about overpaying (they've already done that in the past - remember Compaq?).

HP must learn how to communicate.  I worked at HP for 24 years.  I always laughed off HP's appalling attempts at external communication.  Somehow customers were faithful to HP regardless of their communication skills.  However, the world has changed.  The financial markets are demanding.  The need for clarity, consistency and measurable results is a basic requirement, not only to appease the market but to serve customers with excellent products, solutions and services.  Change is painful.  Change is constant.  In my early days at HP, former-CEO John Young had a poster distributed to all offices.  It stated something like "change is constant for technology to evolve, if you cannot keep up with the pace of change you are in the wrong industry."

Like others commenting on this recent news, I would like to see HP pull itself up by the bootstraps.  I would like HP to remember its roots of innovation.  I would like to see HP plan for the long term and execute against the short term tactics that will achieve the long term goal.  HP may not be as exciting as Facebook, Google or Apple, but it can be relevant.  It simply must make a decision about who it wants to be than JUST DO IT (thanks Nike!). Good Luck HP!

What's your perspective?

Energize your Enterprise Video Strategy

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Are you using video to share your company story?  I hope so!  Video is more memorable than thousands of  tweets or daily blogs or superbly written collateral.  Video is your opportunity to put a face on your organization and share compelling content.  What makes content compelling?  It's all in how the message is delivered.  Is the speaker confident and authentic?  Does he or she have a passion for the topic?  Are they sharing information that is meaningful to you - the viewer?

I am huge fan of video communications, whether it takes the form of a webcast, video conference or viral video.  In any form, a well thought out video tells a story in way that online words cannot match.  Coming from the high tech industry, I've been lucky to be exposed to all forms of video communication.  I have experience the high-end telepresence style video conferencing as well as the ad hoc services such as Skype.  I have seen live executive town hall meetings and taped product launch announcements.  Across the board, video is becoming a required form of communicaiton.

Two weeks ago, Konitiki and BT Conferencing hosted a webinar "Future Proof your Video Communication Strategy".  They discussed key technology elements for a successful strategy, including :

     - video production
     - signal origination
     - signal acquistion
     - encoding formats
     - operating systems
     - viewing devices
     - content delivery networks
     - managed event services

These elements are important and can make or break a successful video event.  However, even more important is the development of the content itself.  I was speaking to the team at Mad Bear Productions, who focus on a different aspect of video communication - that of creating and telling your story.  Their value is in helping you understand what story you are trying to tell - then humanizing that story.  What does this mean?  It means developing a storyboard that draws your audience to your brand by allowing passionate, yet professional, employees to represent the brand.  Think about:
    - who you want watching your video
    - what message do they need to hear (not the same as what you want to say!)
    - how and where will they consume your content (in the office, on a mobile device, live or on-demand, alone or with others)

Then consider how you're going to inform them about the video.  will you use email?  Internal announcements?  Or, how about integrating soci al media and attracting a wider audience through the use of Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?  If the video is available on-demand, consider distributing it via YouTube or Vimeo.  There are more outlets than ever for reaching your audience. 

Storytelling is an art.  Video is a technology.  Enterprise video communication needs to bring these two perspectives together to share a message that is meaningful and make it accessible to the desired audience.  When you're developing your video communication strategy, don't forget that all perspectives must be addressed!

What's your perspective?

Are Your Customers Helping You Innovate?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Innovation - the magic word that inspires loyalty, adoption and disruption. It drives loyalty by employees to develop market shifting product and services.  It invites users to try a new way to address existing problems. It shifts the market landscape by providing a friendlier, smarter, cheaper or faster solution. Many consider the televison to be the greatest innovation of the 20th century.  In general, Apple is the company that comes to mind today, when considering innovation. They changed the way we buy and consume music through the introduction of ITunes and the iPod. What was so innovative about the service and the device? Ease of use. Apple was laser focused on the customer experience.

Other companies have been known for innovation (Google, IBM, Microsoft, Ford, GE, Facebook). Many continue to be innovators while others have become followers.  It's not easy to maintain a culture of innovation.  R&D budgets can be costly and don't always show significant ROI, at least not in the short term.  Subsequently these budgets shrink and grow as does the economy.  Is there a way to drive innovation in a more cost effective way?  One option is to leverage the collective intelligence and innovative spirit of the general marketplace.  Many would call this customer driven innovation.

This is not a new thought.  However, in today's social world, there are new ways to invite your customers to help you drive innovation of new products, services and business models. Social networks provide a new channel of communication with customers.  Whether you are interacting with them directly or they are talking about your company, product or industry with others, they are sharing their needs and concerns.  It's up to you to channel this intelligence.

A commonly referenced story is that of Dell and its customer support challenges.  Poor Dell, they had a great business model for quickly delivering customer defined PCs to their customers.  However, if that customer had a problem, they could rot in "Dell Hell" forever.  Dell used social media to encourage their customers to share their concerns.  Dell was overwhelmed with data, but turned around and asked these same customers to help them prioritize their needs.  This helped Dell to address the most important challenges first, with a significant improvement in their customer support model and ultimately, customer satisfaction.

How can your company use social media to drive innovation? As always, start with your business goals.  What are you trying to innovate?  Are you responding to customer satisfaction issues?  Are you hoping to launch a new product?  Have you disrupted your market and need to continue doing so?  Once you've define your goals, think about the pros and cons of crowdsourcing ideas.  The number one concern is that everyone will know what is being said.  Their is NO privacy in the social arena.

However, companies can invite debate on product initiatives.  They can discuss product features and the needs of their customers related to the product and its functionality.  Customer feedback can help prioritize the introduction of new features.  Customer comments can help improve online customer support and align support organizations to the real needs of their customers.  By using social monitoring tools, companies can quickly see market trends. 

Remember, social media happens in real-time.  Traditional market research, while valuable, is based on historical data.  Social networks are capturing conversations that reflect the current and immediate needs of your customers.  Your opportunity is to act quickly enough to deliver the solution that meets their needs.

In following the tech space, I'm saddened to see the news of Nokia's coming demise.  They provided my first mobile phone.  It was utterly reliable and easy to use.  Then there is the news of RIM's layoffs. The Blackberry was THE market changing device that created an expectation for 24x7 connectivity for business professionals.  when was the last time Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley stalwart, announced something earth shaking?  Remember, this is the company that changed enterprise and consumer printing forever.  They led the UNIX charge which enabled companeis to consider viable alternatives to large mainframe computers.

I wonder, are these companies paying attention to their customers' real needs?  If so, perhaps they would still be considered innovators.  If you want to innovate, pay attention to your customers.  They are online and they are not shy.  Leverage the power of social media to help you innovate the next big thing!

What's your perspective?

Facebook Video Chat - Will You Use It?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, July 07, 2011

Yesterday, Facebook announced the integration of Skype (currently being acquired by Microsoft) for video chat.  What does this mean?  It means that in addition to clicking the chat button to have an instant messaging system with one your friends who is online, you can now elect to have a video chat with that same friend.  Imagine Skype within the framework of Facebook - you have a pop-up window with the talking head of your friend.

This announcement was surrounded with a lot of hype.  Sure Skype gains access to Facebook’s 750 million users.  And Facebook gains access to arguably, the most recognized VoIP platform.  But do Facebook users really want to video chat with their friends?  I performed a quick verbal survey with my friends and they were all a bit quizzical about the need for video chat within Facebook.  Perhaps this is a generational issue.  I’m older than Mark Zuckerberg.

My friends and I use Facebook to stay in touch.  We do not post comments every minute.  We do not expect instantaneous response to any comment.  We share pictures, we comment on items in the news; we ask random (and often ridiculous) questions.  We promote our favorite causes.  We rarely use the existing chat function.  We actually enjoy the random updates and casual means of staying in contact with geographically dispersed friends.  It’s a light touch, not as intentional as an email or a phone call.  We feel “safe” in not actually verbalizing our thoughts, but sharing them in a few short sentences.

I’m a big fan of social networks.  I help companies identify their strategies for using social networks.  As businesses continue to adopt Facebook as another channel for communicating with their customers, I do see how B2C companies can use video chat to enhance their consumer relationships.  Any company focused on customer service, now has another mechanism for connecting to, interacting with and responding to consumer concerns.  Companies can expose their personality even further through the use of a live person, interacting with friends and fans.  I can imagine emerging technology companies who use Facebook as a recruiting platform, testing applicants’ interactive capabilities using video chat. 

Video is memorable.  Video is personal.  Video exposes both the individual and the company.  This additional exposure does not come without risk.  Representatives of the company, who are currently managing their social presence, will have to consider the impact on their policies and guidelines.  Further training may be required verbal communication requires a different set of skills than written communication.  For those firms already concerned about regulatory and compliance issues, video chat is something that will never be turned on.  If companies turn on video chat they will be required ‘walk the talk’ even more consistently then ever before.

What do you think about Facebook’s new video chat capabilities?  How will you use it?  Will you use it at all? 

What’s your perspective?

A Social Media Plan to Ensure Brand Consistency

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 04, 2011

This is the fourth blog in our 6 week series, with our colleagues from Taylor O'Brien, on branding and social media. 

Your brand strategy has a unique vision and identity.  You identified this strategy by aligning your brand with your business goals, accounting for both cultural identity and customer knowledge.  As you define a social media plan to support your brand strategy, don’t forget that social media is a means of communication.  It brings with it a high degree of immediacy and interactivity.  It allows you to communicate more directly with your customers.

Social media reinforces a need to be responsible, understandable, reliable and genuine.  This is why a social media plan is so important.  You are serving your customers with the information and content they need.  Here are 6 key components of social media plan that supports your brand.

  1. Objectives – What do you want to achieve and how will social media help you fulfill those goals?  How are these objectives related to your business strategy? Are they focused on sales, market awareness, customer service or other core business topics? Defining objectives will help you determine what content is needed and which social platforms to use. 
  2. Customers – Who are they?  Where are they?  What content do they need or want?  Depending on your customers role (i.e., buyer, influencer, executive, technologist) they will crave different types of content.  Any plan must consider the customer’s need and supply the content needed to the relevant platform and device. 
  3. Integrate – How will social media support or expand your overall marketing strategy?  Social media is not a stand alone marketing effort.  It must be aligned with other online and offline activities.  An integrated plan will identify resources (people, content and time) needed to achieve your objectives.   Social media can draw attention to events, reinforce messaging, personalize your brand, capture customer insight or input, create stronger customer bonds, manage your reputation and drive sales.  Social media, perhaps more than other forms of marketing, becomes your online voice.  It must reflect your brand and your culture. 
  4. Metrics – How will you measure success of your social media strategy?  All other aspects of your marketing plan have goals and metrics – social media is no different.  Your metrics must support your objectives and can also be tied to your overall marketing plan.  Early stage metrics are usually related to followers and web traffic.  Later stage metrics can include measures of influence, leads, sales, product development or support.
  5. Policy – Who will engage in your brand’s social media efforts?  How will they engage?  A policy can be considered the “rules of engagement”.  It is your opportunity to remind employees on how you want to represent your brand.  It is also the means of communicating your goals for social media.  A critical element of any plan or policy is to determine how your brand will address negative comments.  They are bound to occur and it is important to establish guidelines to help your social media constituents understand how to address them.
  6. Engage! – Most importantly interact, share, communicate and respond!  Social media is a customer engagement medium.  Be informative and be informed!

Social Media has the ability to expand and personalize your brand in ways not previously available.  It is an opportunity for all brands, be they consumer or business centric, to communicate frequently and openly.  It is also an opportunity for customers to express their likes or dislikes.  Be prepared for both the positive and the negative.  Understand your brand voice, align your social media efforts with your brand strategy, educate your employees on your goals and engage with your customers like never before!

What’s your perspective?