Saturday, November 7, 2015

Social media to require a long-term strategy

"We need to engage in social media. Our competitors are already very active." That was the tenor at a recent customer meeting. There were no clear ideas but rather the need to compete and not to carelessly give away market share. They had heard that a corporate blog would be important to produce content and thus pushing the rankings in the organic search on Google. And video content would be important in order to be found on YouTube. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - also major media when it comes to reach different target groups. So far fine - or not? There are no standard solutions about what a company really needs and which communication tools it should record. It depends on many things, and it is a strategic issue.

Lost in numerous channels

Many small and medium-sized companies are familiar with such issue. They are lost in the myriad of channels of digital communication and unable to find the way through the maze of opportunities. Branding, communication, marketing is often a matter of the boss, a communication specialist rarely to be found in these companies. And the boss has to take care of the core business and can hardly afford time to act as an expert when it comes to brand building and management. This is the great moment for agencies and service providers to come up with wordy offers and to warn that the social media train is already gathering speed. Depending on how good the provider's sales talk was, the company may invest in a Facebook account, an Adwords campaign, a corporate video or a corporate blog. And then?

Hyperactivity and its consequences

Apart from a few clicks, the money for an Adwords campaign ends up in smoke, the highly creative web campaign gets some Likes, the company video is clicked a couple of times and the Facebook page only shows that the company is also there. However, the desired effect failed to materialize, the initial euphoria evaporates. And last but not least, the expense of the social media presence have been totally underestimated. The old rules of marketing communications are no more useful. It's no longer about sending information but about dialogue. And this means constant monitoring, timely storytelling and immediate responding to comments. A lot of today's social media pages are just wasteland. The claim has been staked but not plowed. Because nobody had time for it, no one really knew about, there is no strategy, no plan.

Never without a strategy

The best measure is useless if it is just ordered because something needs to be done. Those who want to act sustainably and with foresight need a coherent strategy. Agencies are quick in selling an online campaign, a Facebook presence or a new website. And customers, especially in the small and middle enterprise sector, like to purchase such measures - just because something needs to be implemented quickly. But this is waste of money. Namely, when all these measures are not integrated and are not coordinated. Even the most creative idea is of little use if it does not match with clear goals, misses target groups, and the "strategy" is limited to the planning of individual measures. Before implementing a corporate blog, a video or a new Facebook presence, it should be carefully reviewed if all these new measures really make sense for the company.

Relevance is the criteria

It is not necessarily logical that all these things are needed. It is not for any business a must to be active and omnipresent in social media. The company's positioning and objectives may neither be stronger nor accomplished. Crucial for the selection of instruments - including social media which are ultimately only an element in the mix - is a communication strategy designed for long-term success and based on the corporate strategy and a thorough analysis of the desired market positioning and the standing compared to competitors. The strategy defines objectives, exactly describes target groups, formulates positive messages and provides a creative guiding principle.