2theroadAccording to Wildfire‘s report "The Road to ROI", brands no longer control how consumers perceive them. Instead, what matter far more than what brands say, is what consumers say about them.

Success in social means, that you must influence this conversation and dialogue without trying to control it, explains the expert and suggests that a social strategy on the road to ROI must be based on five key initiatives to make to get the most out of social:

1. Integrate social into your marketing mix

Treat social media as a core element, alongside advertising, events, web, email, in-store promotion, and other marketing activities. Despite the trend to increase social media budgets, many marketing leaders don’t believe that their social media activities are well integrated with their overall marketing strategies. Brands that fail to close the integration gap will struggle to recognize a meaningful return on their social media investment; they’ll also run the risk of damaging their reputation.

  • Don’t treat social media as a silo. When necessary, realign roles and restructure internal policies and processes so that social is treated as a dynamic, organization-wide marketing function.
  • Avoid complete outsourcing of your social media efforts. Internal participation from a dedicated social media team is critical to ensuring that your social marketing activities are consistent with your larger marketing strategy.
  • Offer social media training. Make integration a priority among stakeholders and other employees by educating them about how social media fits into your marketing mix. Doing so helps employees identify the ways social marketing activities link to and affect their roles and responsibilities.

2. Prepare internally - organize for social

Social’s integration into your overall marketing strategy may require you to think differently about how to structure your marketing operations and resources - or how social media fits in to company-wide policies and procedures. Social marketing expertise and resources within enterprises are typically very limited, so how do you best leverage those scarce resources across the organization?

According to Wildfire, a “hub and spoke” organizational model works best to scale social marketing and empower company-wide coordination and accountability. In this model, the “hub” – a team of expert resources that includes social marketing strategists and content specialists – supports an array of “spokes.” Spokes are teams that represent different product lines, regions, and other units in the organization that are active in social media. Spokes include the leads within the organizational unit they represent -- they’re the “subject matter experts” responsible for their group’s social media activities. For very large enterprises, a “multi hub and spoke” model might be warranted: rather than a single hub, there are multiple hubs with social marketing expertise, each supporting a number of spokes. The hubs roll up to a central hub that coordinates and maintains consistency across them. The model makes it easier for brands to effectively concentrate and leverage limited expert social marketing resources, it helps social move from fragmentation to centralization and it improves accountability and policy adoption. As social becomes more centralized, brands will find it easier to establish a consistent set of social media policy guidelines and standards, which hubs can then help their spoke partners understand and implement.


3. Align social to your business objectives

Your social strategy should be tied directly to your key marketing and business objectives. For each marketing initiative or campaign, brands typically try to achieve one (or more) of five key objectives:

  • Build awareness;
  • Generate leads;
  • Maintain an ongoing dialogue with consumers;
  • Amplify the reach and impact of other marketing efforts (e.g., TV, print);
  • Drive sales.

Whatever the intent, your social marketing efforts should have specific, measurable goals that align with your business objectives.

4. Focus on engagement

Engagement is at the heart of a successful social strategy. Research consistently shows that the more engaged a consumer is with a brand, the more likely that consumer is to buy the brand’s products or services. And the more engaged consumers are, the more likely they are to advocate on the brand’s behalf.  It comes as no surprise, then, that deep brand engagement has also been shown to correlate with financial performance. Social engagement – the process by which brands communicate directly with consumers across social channels – has fundamentally redefined the relationship between brands and consumers. Marketers must adapt to this reality and treat engagement as an over-arching principle of their brand building strategy.

5. Build a multi-network presence

As the number of social channels increases, the rate of overall engagement increases, too. Marketers are familiar with the exponential growth of social networks in recent years: the monthly active membership of most major networks reaches into the hundreds of millions, with Facebook now topping more than one billion monthly active users. And while consumers are active across these social networks, they interact with different networks for different purposes and in different ways. To engage consumers across all networks, brands must consider the dynamics specific to each social network, and the reasons users spend time on those sites.

At the end of the report, Wildfire offers a useful checklist for your social strategy:

✓   Do you have a written social strategy in place?

✓   Is your marketing organization structured and resourced appropriately?

✓   Have you developed a social media policy?

✓   Is your strategy explicitly tied to your business and marketing objectives?

✓   Does your strategy include plans for a multi-network presence?

✓   Do you know how you will measure success: Have you defined specific social marketing goals and metrics that you can track?

Social marketing is powerful as it not only influences how consumers think of and discuss your brand, Wildfire concludes, affirming that it also amplifies your brand message to drive measurable business results and ROI. If our summary makes you curious for more information, please visit www.wildfireapp.com.

By MediaBUZZ