At this point, most of us are up to our eyeballs in the babble, information and regurgitated messages of self-proclaimed social media gurus. Many of our companies have launched Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and have dabbled in a host of other social networks. It seems like everyone is always talking about “listening” and “engaging” and “the conversation.” But one thing I don’t seem to hear enough about is integration. How does it all work together to serve the greater purpose/mission for your company or organization? Let’s not try to make it something more than it is; social media is just another channel or way to provide customer service, nurture sales and develop relationships.
I’m a “dog person” and so I’m always looking to support animal rescue and improving the quality of life for all creatures, great and small. I “like” The Honest Kitchen – a company that makes natural dog food. I had never heard of The Honest Kitchen or visited its website before I was a fan on Facebook (recommended by a friend, @jillianmk). After checking out its fan page, I got a feel for the company; it cares about quality and really lets its fans create an experience by posting their photos and stories about pets they’ve rescued. This is more than a fan page – it’s a community for people that love rescue dogs.
Some marketers might disagree with me on this, but I think that if you invest the time to create the social arm of your overall marketing strategy, you should devote as much care and strategy as you did (hopefully) to your website. Sure, it’s not going to serve the same purpose(s) but it could be a first impression for many potential customers (as it was for me). With The Honest Kitchen example in mind, here are three key questions to ask about your social media integration:
1. What is your “voice?”
Do you share customer or fan experiences as you do in the store and on your website? If I visit your Facebook page and then come into your store or visit the website, will I feel like it’s what I expected, or more than I expected? Will someone be responsive to posts from fans or followers and does this person understand why you are using social media and some basics on maintaining your brand/voice?
2. What is your plan?
Have you decided what types of messaging you will incorporate? How often will you post? How will you integrate these messages with your print, TV, radio and web strategies? Will your Facebook posts drive sales to fans website? Does your website give visitors a way to connect to your social channels?
3. What is your level of dedication?
Can you see yourself doing this long term, or having someone dedicated to keeping up with your plan, and making sure it is really integrated with all other marketing strategies?
The way I see it, you’ve really only got two choices when it comes to social media integration:
1. Ignore it (not recommended)
2. Embrace it (as part of your overall strategy that serves a purpose)
How will you use your social media presence? Will you use it to support your overall plan, or will it just go to the dogs?