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The Social Media Roadmap for Brands

By: Alicia Whalen, Director, Strategic Relationships

A six-part white paper on what brands and large corporations need to do to in an omni-channel media economy, with social media at the core of marcom.

How do fortune 500 brands shift to meet the demands of a connected and social media savvy consumer? Regardless of the audience, in today’s economy, every brand must have a social media presence.

Beyond a social media presence, brands must have a means to measure social media success and ROI against business objectives in order to properly invest in content, tools, and infrastructure to support social media marketing and communications strategies.

The challenges are many. Social media has changed consumer behaviour so quickly that marketers have had to rapidly adapt, change media spending, invest in technologies to support, and hire resources to manage social media tactics, and also to measure it’s ROI.

The digitization of media has been fast, making it near impossible for brands to keep up. Large corporations have systems in place, and layers of management that make shifting strategies, resources and budgets on a dime difficult. In addition, social media is, by its very nature, a channel that takes a great deal of learning and optimization to get right.

That’s the name of the game: Create - Distribute - Measure - Optimize.

In order to find success in social, brands today need a clear roadmap, complete with well-defined core business objectives, in order to build and roll out a social media plan that can be measured against other marcom tactics, and can deliver measurable ROI.

One of the biggest struggles facing all brands today is getting buy in to justify the costs associated with creating and growing a vibrant social media presence. Too often a fragmented social strategy will end up with key data pointing in many different directions, and content being managed in silos, with no clear brand objectives.

Knowing you need to be active in the social media game is just the first step. To really leverage the potential of social media, a defined social media strategy and plan, by channel is required.

Part 1: Problems facing Fortune 500 brands and large corporations today

Problem 1: Lack of dedicated social media team and limited resources

Social media shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Even in large companies, those who manage and contribute to social media are often spread across a number of departments. Running your social media this way - fragmented and operating in silos - is rife with potential problems including:

Disorganized and sometimes competing goals, strategy, and creative
A limited ability to measure success of social against other initiatives in your marcom mix
Limited buy-in from C-Level executives, leading to lack of budget allocation for social
Vulnerability to social media crisis which may lead to larger PR problems
Inability to identify and act on trends that may impact CRM, product development, or quality of operations
Wasted or inefficient paid social marketing with no ROI measurement or benchmarking
The lost opportunity to optimize based on the results of a cohesive strategy and measurement

Problem 2: Social media moves fast - and there are no clear benchmarks for success

Unlike traditional marketing channels, social media is evolving and changing at breakneck speeds. Algorithms evolve daily, platforms appear and dissolve, and trends pop up fast.

With so much movement within the channel, finding an answer to the question “What will this mean for sales, lead gen, customer service, brand sentiment etc?” becomes somewhat of a Holy Grail. The greater problem for many is in identifying the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and definitive measures of perspective ROI needed to get senior leadership buy-in. This is the same challenge for any brand from Fortune 500 to small corporations.

Problem 3: Agency support missing

The trend towards outsourcing social to an agency with expertise is growing. An objective third-party not only keeps you accountable to your goals, but takes the guesswork out of building and enacting a solid social strategy.

Working with an agency brings three benefits the simply can’t be achieved with an in-house social media department.

Breadth of expertise - a social media agency offers a large team at your beck and call, full of individuals with varied experience and abilities. From content creation to PR crisis management, an agency is able to provide a huge depth of knowledge and capability.
International agility - with team members across the globe, in every time zone, a social media agency is able to service your account’s social media channels day and night, responding and mitigating risk, even while you sleep.
Cohesive social strategy and management - eliminate the fractured social media tactics that occur when multiple individuals across departments try manage accounts. Your social strategy should be centrally managed, with all the moving parts contributing to an overarching goal with measurable KPIs.

Problem 4: Limited budgets for trial and error

Most brands understand that there is value in leveraging social media, but are hesitant to dedicate the budget required to build a robust and effective social strategy, with the right content, engagement and listening.

Social media requires proper expertise, attention, and commitment like any other media tactic. It’s also a marketing channel that requires a significant amount of trial and error to discover what tactics, channels, and creative have the most success.

A major issue found even in companies with the largest of marketing budgets, is getting senior leadership to incrementally increase a social media budget as trial and error reveals what works and what doesn’t.

CTA