Creating a Coherent Social Media Strategy

Back from lunch and in the presence of two powerhouses — Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Brogan. I’m not worthy.

[Jeremiah is schmoozing with the crowd and I’m hiding like a shy little girl. I just got up to avoid being in a photo. Seriously. His level of awesomeness scares me.]

Jeremiah says him and Chris first met at the Blog House, an event done at PodTech. They invited 600 bloggers into a suite about at the Bellagio and it was all about community. They said there was absolutely no drinking involved. None.

Jeremiah asks how many people are satisfied with their social media strategy. No one raises their hand. Chris says he wants to start with the question first: What keeps you up at night? What are the things that are worrying you?

  • What are your experiences? Which sites to use and how do you push specific content to specific social networks? — Jeremiah says there at least 100 video networks. There are 80 companies that like you white label their services.
  • How do you integrate mobile?
  • More stats to help sell stuff to corporations. Stats for measuring success.
  • Even before stats for success, they why? Who is out there and what they saying? How do you research the target market?
  • How do you avoid having a bad experience the first time?
  • How do you get people to care if your target market isn’t necessarily the classic social media market?

Chris asks who has no idea why they’re here. Ha.

Jeremiah defines "strategy" as the long term decision making for your Web site. It meets three spheres — users (community), business objectives and technology. Jeremiah anoints us all Web Strategists. Ooo, a promotion!

Are you listening?

Chris says one thing that’s interesting about the way people communicate is that they talk about how to use services to push content. However, very few people think to ask the question "how do I hear where these conversations are happening?" How do I know what people are saying about me? This is about engaging conversations, not putting out fires. To hear, you have to be still. If you’re making a lot of noise you won’t be able to hear.

Jeremiah lists some things you can do to help yourself hear:

  • Set up Google Alerts around your brand, your executives, your name, etc.
  • Do it for your competitors
  • Use Technorati

Jeremiah says there are a ton of tools to listen to and that’s the first step.

When you set up these alerts, you find out who is talking about you? Google will find these instances and report them back to you. When it becomes too much for you to handle, then you have to look at other tools. It’s really important to measure at the first phase because it gives you a benchmark to use later on.

To sum it up: Use tools to listen, find out who is saying about you, organize it and create a benchmark.

Chris says bad marketers are those that blow a blow horn at you. He says we should turn blow horns into party hats. In other words, create a social experience, don’t talk at people.

Got it.

We’re in the nation of Digg and TechMeme where there’s lot of voting on what’s important and what people want. It makes sense to bring that concept into your company. Ask your customers what they think. Remember that your customers are spending time and attention with you. Make that valuable

Tools that are great for energizing your community into a conversation are online forums, Pligg or social networks.

Someone asks a question about using directories to get attention. Jeremiah says that if you do a good job of listening to your community and being part of that community, then the directories aren’t important because people will already know you’re there.

Don’t avoid the elephant in the room, instead pet it. When someone says something bad about you there’s a few things you do. You run it up the flag pole. If you wrote today that BlogWorldExpo is stupid, the BWE organizers could do several things. They could pretend they didn’t see it, they could write that you’re a jerk or they could not just get in that mess. Any time someone craps on you, say thank you because that’s better than not saying anything. Chris is that guy that when a restaurant messes up his order, he never complains. He eats it but then never goes back.

Case Studies

Integration occurs in traditional media: Jeremiah uses the Dove campaign as an example of a company that has integrated their campaign across many mediums and embraced social media.

He deployed a social media program for Hitachi Data Systems. They hired a company to measure what was happening in the social sphere

They decided to launch Executive blogs that were designed to reach out and energize the community. They linked out to people who were talking about them, both good and bad. The blogs were integrated into the mix, creating thought leadership and global discussion. The blogs became a living white paper. It became a door opener for sales, ongoing training and served as a rapid response tool.

If you are managing corporate blogs and you make people jump through hoops to comment, people won’t comment. If you’re afraid of the bad comments, realize that’s why the comments are there, to bring the negative conversation into your neighborhood so that you can handle it and it doesn’t spread elsewhere.

Another thing they did was build an online forum. It was originally built for customers to support customers. He told other bloggers in the industry and built the community that way. Pictures and media where then integrated into the community.

Jeremiah shows what the forum looked like. The most viewed thread is the "behind the scenes" thread. What’s in there? Jeremiah took a camera and recording actual customers to show the human side of the company.

They created a resource for the entire industry called the Data Storage Wiki. It wasn’t branded as Hitachi. What they did was link to everything that a customer could want to make a decision – links to bloggers, podcasts, custom search, glossaries, competitors, etc. He made his company more relevant by joining the party.

Chris says being helpful is an excellent marketing strategy. When you’re only talking about your company you’re being "that guy".

Question & Answer

How do you know which tools to use?

Listen to your customers and find out where they’re at. Find out where the party currently exists before deciding which tools you’re going to use. All the tools out there serve different purposes. Chris said the CEO is not always the right person to blog, nor is the marketing department.

How do you integrate mobile?

Find out if that’s your audience because it may not be the sane way. If it is, follow the advice below.

Which networks for what?

Facebook has more people. They’re all there lying around. It’s a question of can you engage them, can they feel like they’re participating, can you do things with the content and what kind of people do you need?

Twitter is service that when you first see it you think it’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard of. You can use an IM client, a mobile phone or a Web browser. It has dramatically improved Chris’ personal branding and his blog.

Jeremiah says someone came up to him and told him he looks like his Twitter avatar, heh. He calls Twitter a chat room.

I use Twitter for personal reason. I blog for the LA Times Travel section and we’re trying to figure out how to use Twitter there.

Jeremiah says to look into how people used Twitter for the recent California fires. Tell people they can get instant updates from your Twitter feed. Put your face on Twitter, not the companies. People want to have a conversation with you, not the LA Times.

What about the SEO repercussions of microblogging?

Chris says he’s seen that in his own personal brand, with this Twitter profile ranking nicely.

How do you get the over 40 people to care?

You can’t force it. People care about what they care about. If you want your father to know about YouTube tell him to google "Frank Sinatra". He’ll get it.

Jeremiah says the Internet is the number one media in the workplace and the second one at home.

How do you start? It’s so overwhelming? How does the local corner store do it?

Chris’ mom started with a blog and talking about why she started her business. She put her blog URL on her business card. The question is, where are your customers and what do they want.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (2)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing
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2 Replies to “Creating a Coherent Social Media Strategy”

Most companies are active on social media, but few have coherent strategies. Building a social media strategy is crucial because it aligns your efforts with your business goals. It helps you understand who you’re targeting, what kinds of content they like to see, and what results in you can expect from your efforts.

Thanks so much for liveblogging this. It’s a great reminder of what the heck we spoke about. : ) I’m so glad you were there, and so happy you’ve captured this for those who weren’t.


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