Holiday season is upon us. If you’re like me, that means a lot of airline travel (please be kind in ’09 ORD!)…and inevitable delays…and plenty of reading time. Alternatively, it may mean holiday parties and colleague gift exchanges.
Whatever the case may be, here’s a great gift idea and resource to get yourself, your boss or co-workers up to speed on social media and ready for a rockin’ start to social media marketing in 2009.
A quick read at 178 pages, Jim Tobin’s Social Media is a Cocktail Party (co-authored by Lisa Braziel) successfully breaks down the key rules of engagement and overarching strategies around social media. As President of Ignite Social Media, a NC-based social media marketing agency, Jim pulls on years of experience to provide an easy-to-read yet insightful look at the overall importance and crucial steps behind taking an active role in the Social Web.
After setting the foundation with a definition of social media, Jim proceeds to describe how public relations and advertising are fading as “push media” whereas social media continues to rise in popularity as “pull media” that works to channel information to consumers on their terms.
Jim builds on this thought by also outlining how the Web has evolved into a “3.0” status via these crucial steps: Surf->Search->Subscribe. The early stages of the Internet had users focused on surfing around to find appropriate links. We have peaked out on Web 2.0 (central focus on search) and are now undergoing a dynamic shift driven by users subscribing and accessing information as they desire. Jim proceeds to describe how social media agencies (as opposed to individual PR, Advertising, SEO or Web design firms) are the future of helping clients map and execute effective social media marketing strategies.
Whereas a realistic model will never completely eliminate the aforementioned individual agencies, I can see Jim’s point about expertise shifting to integrated departments. Effective project teams will need to be comprised of key tech and content savvy members merged with client relations expertise to help deliver the whole package. Not a bad reminder of the new skills I would recommend for anyone just starting their PR career or for those adapting to the new digital landscape.
Social Media Marketing Plan
In laying out some tips behind developing a social media marketing plan, Jim identifies some obvious, but unfortunately frequently overlooked key factors for consideration.
Namely, a company should not develop a social media marketing plan if:
– They plan to use social media in an unethical manner to achieve their goals (flogging, manipulating search algorithms, etc.)
– A company has a bad product or service that they are just trying to spin.
– A company has a bad reputation (unless this reputation is undeserved and the company has a plan for repeatedly explaining why this reputation is undeserved).
As with any good plan, Jim touts that companies should first evaluate their own willingness to dive into social media by considering their readiness for transparency, authenticity and loss of brand control.
In the planning phase, a company should consider how they intend to contribute or start new online conversations. From there, a Community Analysis Plan (focusing on relevant conversation keywords, target audience and existing vs. goal statistics such as website traffic) and Community Engagement Plan (specific tactics – use of a blog or social networks? widget development? timeframe for measurement?) to round out the social media marketing plan.
Not reinventing the wheel, but rather driving home the crucial importance of a structured strategy, Jim reminds us of four key components that any marketer should remember when putting together a plan: Research, Goal Definition, Strategy Development, Measurement and Results.
Learnings Part II and final takeaway to follow Friday…