Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ten Steps to Integrate Social Network...

Ten Steps to Integrate Social Network Marketing into Business and
Non-Profit Organizations

Preface: Working with an original list created by Brian Solis of FutureWorks, a new media company, The Author has modified and redefined a few of the original bullet points, added background from his knowledge-base and experience; and, included the vital role of IT and data mining in effective Social Network Marketing.

Step 1. Discovery, validation, integration and documentation. The first stage of integration involves discovering and documenting information key to the process. For example, does the organization harvest and store customer/client information including email? How does the firm describe its community of interest? What are the "internal" conversations that underlie business processes in the company? What do the firm's key decision makers consider significant? What are their goals and objectives in the marketing and social networking space? Data gathered in this process needs to be paired with complementary information gleaned from "outside" conversations. These conversations can be monitored using Google Alerts, Twitter Search, PR Newswire's Social Media Metrics...amongst other tools. From these conversations, management can glean what is being said about the company; its products, services and positioning. Trends can be identified and described.

Step 2. Develop a plan. The process and findings in Step 1. are documented in a report designed to provide
the underlying, relevant data; analysis and interpretation of the data;
and, recommended objective-oriented action plans with suggested
timelines and monitoring. Key questions that need to be answered in
this stage include: What do you want your social network marketing to
do? How do you want it to 'work' for your organization? It is important to ensure that your organization's commitment to leverage social network marketing (SNM) is data driven, informed by the behavior of your marketplace, your business and your customers. One way to ensure that happens is to integrate this process into your data collection and mining efforts, involving your IT group in each step of the process. If you are a small business or non-profit, a thorough brainstorming session will assist you in making these decisions. A couple of examples come to mind. A downtown restaurant with a Facebook fan page and Twitter presence analyzed its data to determine which days were slow, then implemented a SNM customer incentive program around giveaways and discounts to fill the seats on those evenings. A local vineyard is using Twitter to turn out a crowd of adoring fans when the regional wine critic visits. The wine industry statewide is inviting Oregonians to tweet about their evening glass of wine, fine restaurants and good pairings; then, retweeting all of the individual tweets to create momentum around the state and the industry. It's not enough to have a profile, the key is a strategic plan.

Step 3. Establish a beachhead, engage your targets, test your platform and process. Take the plunge. In this stage, organizations are encouraged test the waters by defining the kind of presence they desire and creating a test-bed for strategic programs. Start with a presence and strategy for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. Later, you'll be adding the company web site, a new or updated blog, and additional social networking resources to your effort. But for now, just get the basic four (referenced) up-and-running.

Step 4. Socialize your presence. Join the conversation, as Solis advises. As you do, you begin to build community - while learning the rules of the road.

Step 5.
Establish your voice and a sense of purpose. Once you've begun the conversation, your company/brands need to find and exercise their voices - with a sense of strategic purpose.

Step 6. Act: Turn your words into actions - both inside and outside the organization. Because taking action moves people. Build momentum, show progress, refresh often.

Step 7. Build and manage conversations. As Solis says, " direct traffic and build perceptions." This step is key to facilitating the emergence of community - which is earned through shared conversations and shared experience. As your sense of community grows and your familiarity with key players is enhanced, reach out to potential ambassadors and evangelists to leverage their enthusiasm. Engage negatives with strategically crafted counter measures, including proactive messaging.

Step 8. Monitor, adapt and scale. Track program reach and effectiveness; monitor trends; and, scale the platform and programs to sustain and evolve. Involve the IT dept. in mining databases to identify new opportunities.

Step 9. Formalize with a sCRM program. Tie-in to IT and management Decision Support Systems (DSS). Integrate across business processes, including departments, brands, product lines and strategic partners.

Step 10. Metrics, analysis and reporting. Be real. Be data driven. Be transparent.

Credit (for the "bones" of this list): Brian Solis, FutureWorks. This guy's a genius.

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