“We have a social media strategy.” 6 WHEN CAN YOU SAY,

“ We have a social media strategy.”
to determine whether your
6 questions
social media strategy will make a difference.
According to a 2011 survey by PwC, 43% of CEOs say they will “significantly
change” their strategies in the next three years to respond to customers’
increased use of social media and mobile devices1. As you consider your
company’s social media strategy, here are six quick tests to determine whether
you really have a plan worth calling a Social Media Strategy.
Your strategy should:
Achieve measurable business outcomes
Rest upon unique insights
Specify where to engage
Use your organization’s unique strengths
Define internal changes required to achieve the strategy
Belong to a team with conviction to act on the strategy
“14th Annual Global CEO Survey,” PwC, 2010 – 2011
1 Will your strategy achieve measurable business outcomes?
If your social media goals include things like, “Get 100,000 fans on Facebook,” or
“Establish our brand as a thought leader in our category,” then you do not have a
social media strategy because those goals are not business outcomes. Instead,
your strategy must quantify the business outcomes that you expect to achieve
through investing in your strategy. Specifically, if your strategy is successful, how
much more revenue will you earn, or how will your cost structure improve?
Ultimately, how will the strategy impact your cash flows?
If you are focused on increasing your followers, and you do not quantify the
business outcomes that you expect from attracting more followers, then you risk
overinvesting in activities to attract those followers. Further, you risk attracting
followers that have very low probability of creating value for your business.
Any effort to grow your fan base should be founded upon clear understanding of
the value of a fan to your brand – not an average value across different brands. In
fact, brands must use at least a basic estimate for the value of their fans when
planning and designing social media investments – just like brands use Customer
Lifetime Value when planning traditional marketing investments.
Does your strategy rest on insights that only you own?
Web APIs and open source software make it very easy for a small team of
developers to quickly build an application that aggregates social media data
from different sources then present it in beautiful, automated charts that make
people feel like they have real knowledge. But much of this is noise, and all of
it is widely available to rivals.
True advantage derives from custom analyses and proprietary insights that simply
do not arrive atop the tsunami of data flowing out of off-the-shelf monitoring
software or quickly-coded applications. While social media monitoring has a very
important role in modern business, no amount of staring at a monitoring
dashboard will give you the information required to make the critical, strategic
decisions that will set your company apart from the competition.
This is one area where Conversation Mining can make a big difference. By mining
online conversations for answers to your unique business questions, with metrics
and data organized according to your internal customer segmentation and your
products, you can quickly determine unique insights that inform true competitive
advantage. While it is true that everyone can buy access to public online
conversation data, companies can determine truly unique insights through better
analytical methodologies, experienced human analysts, customized data filters,
and, most important, inside knowledge of your business, your goals, your
strengths and your weaknesses.
Does your strategy specify where to engage, and where not to engage?
80 percent of the variance in revenue growth across companies is explained by
choices about where to compete, leaving only 20 percent explained by choices
about how to compete 2.
Unfortunately, most companies do the opposite. They assume the where is given,
and they spend most of their time thinking about how to compete. In order to
avoid that mistake, it can help to spend some time thinking about where to NOT
compete. Where are there too many competitors already? Where would your
investments only make you look more like everyone around you, rather than
remarkable and more valuable? Where are your teammates investing without a
clear plan for how that spending will produce ROI?
Does the strategy utilize strengths that are unique to your organization?
Too often, companies observe the social media tactics of competitors, attend a
few conferences to hear about ‘best practices,’ then pursue a set of social media
activities that essentially copy the investments of other companies. Such an
approach is a one-way path to mediocrity and low ROI.
Your social media strategy must clearly articulate the audiences you intend to
reach, the actions you intend for them to take, and some explanation regarding
why the strategy uniquely suits your audiences and your brand. Specifically, what
unique assets will you use to support the strategy – assets that your competitors
do not possess?
Finally, consider how changes in your assets may affect your strategy over time,
and consider actions that competitors might take which could make your
advantage less valuable.
Integrated Holiday Campaigns at Michaels
When Michaels Stores wanted to increase their Facebook
impressions and drive store traffic from Facebook through
its strengths in print advertising, they created a holiday
Facebook contest using the best of print, social and
traditional online activation techniques to achieve their goals.
All of Michaels’ sales occur in their retail stores, so any
social media strategy needed to drive traffic and
purchases in their stores. Historically, Michaels used
newspaper inserts to communicate offers to customers,
and customers looked forward to the inserts each week.
The Granularity of Growth: How to Identify the Sources of Growth and Drive Enduring Company
Performance, Patrick Viguerie, Sven Smit and Mehrdad Baghai (Wiley) 2008.
2 >
Integrated Holiday Campaigns at Michaels / continued
In order to further grow their Facebook fan base, increase
engagement among Facebook fans, and, ultimately, drive
in-store purchases, Michaels created a series of holiday
contests that integrated their print, online and Facebook
capabilities to significantly increase store purchases
beyond the historical ability of newspaper inserts alone.
Specifically, seven weekly challenges prompted crafters
to create original works of art using “mystery items” that
were revealed each week.
Michaels, voted on weekly winners by “Liking” each
submission. Newspaper inserts (FSIs) and the corporate
web site directed customers to the Facebook tab hosting
the contest.
As a result of combining their existing strengths in print
advertising, and a compelling offer based on the unique
passions of their fans, Michaels significantly increased
impressions on Facebook, total fans, and traffic to their
Contestants uploaded photos of their crafts on the
Michaels Fan Page. Other customers, with input from
Do you fully understand the internal process, organizational
and technology changes that will be required to achieve the
business outcomes specified in your strategy?
From 2008 to 2009, most large organizations engaged in social media through
people using free tools in their spare time. By the second half of 2010, most large
organizations saw business unit leaders and functional leaders in marketing, PR,
customer support and recruiting all investing in social media on their own – buying
different monitoring tools, competing for ownership of various social platforms,
and, in general, working toward different and disconnected goals.
In 2011, most business unit and functional leaders realize that significant internal
transformation is required to achieve business outcomes through social media.
As one global automotive executive recently observed, “The [social media] world
has simply uncovered the truth that we are no longer able to get away with
operating in silos the way companies have traditionally worked – the world is no
longer forgiving of that.” For example, it is simply not acceptable for customer
support content to bury product announcements in Google or Bing. Instead,
everyone producing content across the company must coordinate content design,
development, optimization and publication if every team is to meet their individual
business goals.
Your social media strategy will only work to the extent that internal teams
collectively agree on the changes required to achieve the goals of the strategy.
Your strategy is not complete until you identify how you will change the business
processes, organizations, technology and data required to achieve the strategy.
Achieving business outcomes through social media requires an organization’s
social capabilities to evolve from a communications function into a business
function – from focusing on target publics and reputation, to focusing on target
audiences and ROI. Getting there requires leaders from across the organization
to scale social capabilities and social intelligence into business processes, such
as lead generation or customer service.
One sign that you are moving in the right direction is that you find yourself
collaborating with new teams and new functional areas. For example, Corporate
Communications may need to work with Customer Service to optimize their
collective impacts on organic search performance in order to achieve brand
awareness and lead generation goals.
Maturity of Social Capabilities in Large Organizations
Ad Hoc
End User or
Individual Process Owner
Business Unit or
Functional Leaders
Shared by Process
Owners, Senior Execs,
Marketing Execs,
End Users
Is there conviction to act on your strategy?
Social media touch nearly every area of a company. While business strategies
often emanate from the top, social media strategies often emanate from every
direction, with strong internal competition for ownership of social platforms,
capabilities and resources. As we enter 2011, discord and dysfunction are the
unfortunate norm in large organizations wrestling to understand and use social
media. Therefore, a strategy will only succeed to the extent that all involved teams
share the set of beliefs that support the strategy.
As difficult as it may sound, you can achieve that kind of cross-functional
consensus. We suggest the following three steps:
Get the facts: Push through opinions and hypotheses about the current state
of your organization, your performance versus your peers, and what should
be done to reach your goals. Determine the performance metrics that can be
used to assess the current state, then measure or estimate them.
If organic search is important to your business, measure your inbound links
versus competitors over time. Are you beating the competition? If not, why not?
You may know average sentiment scores for your brand in social media, but what
are the specific sources of that sentiment – positive and negative? Are you
benchmarking your sentiment against competitors and leaders across industries?
Then, how is your use of social media helping or hurting you relative to your
competitors? Dig into the data and figure it out. If you don’t know how, then
hire someone who does. The ability to align multiple teams on a common
understanding is likely to be well worth the price.
Establish consensus: With facts in hand, take decision makers on a journey
of discovery. Help them to viscerally appreciate the mismatches that exist
between the needs of the new strategy and the behaviors that brought them
success in the past. Mock- ups, video clips, and virtual experiences can help,
but many leaders just need to see the cold hard facts. The result of such an
effort should be a support base of internal influencers who feel connected to
the strategy and evangelize internally on your behalf.
Execute in priority order: When implementing any social media strategy,
you must clearly define where you are moving from and where you expect to
arrive. The complexity of changing a large organization requires that you
clearly define the changes you must make within your company’s use of social
media, your organization, and the capabilities that will achieve your business
goals through social media.
While most companies would like to do more in social media, they simply do
not have the resources to execute at the level they would like. Prioritization is
critical. If you gathered the facts effectively, and you understand how your
strategy will drive ROI, then you should have the data you need to take a
compelling business case to your leadership team and obtain the resources
that you need.
Finally, develop a detailed view of the changes required and ensure that
processes and mechanisms are in place to hold people accountable for the
measurable goals you set. Define a specific action plan, where everyone
knows what they need to do. Work with internal stakeholders across the
organization to ensure that each and every change has appropriate support
and resources, including internal communications and planning expertise to
ensure smooth transitions as your organization wrestles with the inevitable
stresses you will encounter in implementing a true social media strategy.
Converseon is an international social consultancy that helps global brands to define and
execute social media strategies that achieve measurable business results. Our services
include advanced listening and intelligence technologies, social media research, business
integration consulting, and activation services.
In 2009, Converseon won the SAMMY Award for Best Social Media Agency, and, in 2010,
Forrester Research named Converseon a “leader” in “The Forrester WaveTM: Listening
Platforms, Q3 2010”. Converseon is also a Twitter Firehose partner and provides the
industry’s most robust social data coverage.
Our Conversation MinerTM social intelligence solution combines the best of automated
and human analysis to help global brands map, monitor, understand and engage across
multiple languages, regions and organizational use cases to help create “listening
Headquartered in New York, the Converseon team extends to Austin, Detroit, San
Francisco, London, Switzerland, Copenhagen, Australia and China (via partnership).
Rob Key, CEO/Founder, is the former head of the Innovations Group at a division of
Young & Rubicam and member of the WPP.com board. Rob founded Converseon in 2001
to provide new, innovative communication solutions designed to help companies meet
their business objectives in a digital environment. Rob’s twenty years of experience spans
public relations, reputation management, search marketing, affiliate marketing and online
media and advertising.
Chris Boudreaux leads the Business Integration practice at Converseon, where he
helps leading brands achieve business goals through social media by transforming
business processes, data integration and governance. Prior to Converseon, Chris
created and led the Social Media Management offering at Accenture, where he also
advised clients in digital marketing and online product development. His work has been
featured by industry researchers and journalists, including Forrester and Gartner, and he
founded SocialMediaGovernance.com, the foremost resource on governance in social
media. Chris is co-author of The Social Media Management Handbook, and he has
helped leading global corporations, including Bank of America, Boeing, eBay, IBM,
Kodak, Kohler, Novo Nordisk and Microsoft.
[email protected]
For additional information, please contact Converseon at [email protected]
Learn more about Converseon at:
• www.converseon.com
• www.twitter.com/converseon
• blog.converseon.com
Copyright © 2011 Converseon All rights reserved. Converseon, its logo, and Conversation Miner are trademarks of Converseon.
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