Sunday, August 16, 2015

New Paper -- Which Social Media Marketing Methods Are Best For You?

I’ve long been intrigued by the notion that complex business decisions can be reduced to relatively simple rules of thumb.   Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, at least when it comes to decisions I might be paid to make as a consultant. But I think I may safely say that simple rules can often provide a default decision that still needs confirmation by an expert. This gives people a clearer picture of the factors that go into making a choice without anyone getting hurt.

The good people at CommuniGator, a UK-based marketing automation system, were kind enough to sponsor a paper along those lines.  It's a do-it-yourself guide to picking social media marketing methods. You can download the actual paper here.  In this post, I’ll just outline the general approach – something I think can be applied to other situations as well.

The approach is built around three factors: the marketing methods available; the marketer's goals; and the marketer’s "situation", an umbrella term that includes resources, technology, and industry. It’s balancing  goals against the situation that's tricky: if resources were not a problem, you’d just use whatever methods fit your goals, and if goals didn’t matter, you’d just pick whatever methods fit your situation. No doubt plenty of companies have made exactly these errors. One virtue of a systematic approach is that it forces marketers to consider both dimensions.

For the social media marketing paper, we defined eight goals: attract attention, build brand reputation, generate qualified traffic, generate qualified leads, nurture relationships with leads, retain and grow existing customers, provide customer support, and gather market intelligence. You’ll notice these map nicely to the usual customer lifecycle stages.

We considered seven social media methods: monitoring social behavior, generating publicity, pushing content, making content sharable, promoting content on social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon and Reddit, working with influencers, and managing reviews on sites like Yelp! and TrustRadius.

Finally, we have the situation. Resources include ability to generate large volumes of content, ability to generate high quality content, existing social media traffic, available support staff, and budget. Technology includes available execution tools and measurement tools. Industry considers whether customers are highly engaged in the products, how easily they can find product information, and whether the product is a locally-created service such as a restaurant or home repairs.

The actual mechanics of relating these factors are something you’ll best understand by downloading the paper. Suffice it to say that we assigned points to show which goals were more or less suited to each method, which let us identified the most appropriate methods for the marketer's goals.  We then used another set of points to find which resources, technologies, and industry characteristics are most important for each method’s success. This let us judge which of the previously selected methods were most likely to be executed successfully.  And that's what we wanted to know.

I felt the results were pretty reasonable, but then I’m biased. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

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