Strategy can be defined as "The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use". When dealing with social media marketing, it is crucial to understand the three basic types of overall strategy - Engagement Marketing, Social (Nurture) Marketing, and Social IMC (Using virtual private communities). Next I'll explain what they are and give examples of which one may be right for you. Let's get started!
This strategy is used primarily to draw attention to your brand or product using Social Media channels. And while that may seem to be the answer for everyone, Engagement Marketing is an anonymous interaction between you and your audience and is not used to build customer relationships.
- Focus - Social Network Channels
- Goal - Short-term engagement
- Relationship - Anonymous
- Usage - Most markets (Especially lower price point products)
- Engagement - Content RULES! (Go viral!)
- Branding - General brand positioning
- Desired Actions - Viral actions
- Metrics - Measured with channel metrics (Likes, Follows, etc.)
- Product Purchase? - Intuitive (higher sales MAY be attributed to Engagement campaign, but is not definitive)
Your company can benefit using engagement marketing if your goal is to gain brand awareness and do not need to build a relationship with an individual customer. Your goals would be measured in channel metrics (Likes, Follows, Retweets, etc) and ROI can be harder to substantiate since sales can not be directly tracked by engagement.
Social (Nurture) Marketing
Nurture marketing, as the name implies, involves building a "private", longer-term relationship with your potential customers and helping them throughout the consumer life cycle. Using social media for this strategy involves gaining your target audience's awareness and getting them to engage content on your website, such as signing up for email campaigns or newsletters.
- Focus - "Private" relationships
- Goal - Longer-term engagement
- Relationship - Reactive/proactive
- Usage - Higher value target markets
- Engagement - Content based engagement
- Branding - Branding through content
- Desired Actions - Move audience from awareness to consideration to purchase
- Metrics - Implicit and explicit measures to identify persona (You nay have collected some basic info you can tie to sales, email address for example).
- Product Purchase? - Likely product purchase is known
When using the Social Marketing Strategy, your business needs to provide help and guidance so that when your target audience is ready to purchase you have built up a trusted relationship with them and they are comfortable with purchasing from you. Goals and ROI can be tracked much more efficiently because your marketing strategy can be tied directly into your sales metrics.
Social IMC is defined many different ways, but for this purpose I am using the term to describe the process of using Private Virtual Communities to "market" your brand and products. This strategy involves your target audience becoming a member of a private network (which is sponsored and managed by you) and engaging in relevant conversation with like minded people.
For example, let's say that you own a garage specializing in high performance, classic muscle cars. Your marketing strategy can be to build a private virtual community where enthusiasts can post pictures of their cars, get help with mechanical issues, locate parts, etc. When the time comes that they need a PRO to help with their latest project, you are a trusted source who has been there for them by sponsoring and maintaining that awesome website!
- Focus - Community relationships
- Goal - Long-term engagement
- Relationship - Proactive
- Usage - Highest value/high opportunity markets
- Engagement - Community empowerment
- Branding - Tailored brand positioning
- Desired Actions - Community and product actions
- Metrics - 1 to 1 database and behavioral, social, business metrics
- Product Purchase? - Product purchase is known
Social IMC is a much longer commitment and requires more of an initial investment to bring to realization, but the customer relationships and ROI can be well worth the initial output. Being that you will get relevant information during the sign up process, audience activities and sales metrics are easily tracked and can be tied in directly to other marketing campaigns. Just remember that the purpose of using the Social IMC strategy is to provide your target audience with a sense of community. Be there for them when they are ready to purchase, but DO NOT oversell or you will lose members!
Which is best for me?
To answer that question you need to review your social media goals and evaluate not only your target audience, but what resources (personnel, IT, funding, etc.) you have available. Compare your goals with the key points listed above for each strategy and think about what type of campaign you could do within that particular model. And no matter which one you choose to do, track, analyze, and edit as you go!
Many of the subsequent articles in my blog will talk about topics which go hand in hand with what we've covered over the past 6 weeks, so be sure to check back next Monday when we will talk about Gamification - what it is and how can it help drive engagement.