Social media marketing is very different from other marketing platforms. Traditionally marketing is campaign driven—a tradeshow, an ad, a promotion or an event. Each of these activities has a clear beginning, middle and end. Social media on the other hand is endless.
Social media is driven by the here-and-now. A post made on Facebook or Twitter a day ago is lost. Users’ social streams are constantly moving, and each piece of content has a very short shelf life. And in some sectors, what was said an hour ago is old news. This means companies have to keep adding and participating in social media to stay relevant and visible. They can’t stop feeding the content beast, or they’ll get lost.
Showing up day-after-day to be present and active in these platforms requires a different mindset. Marketing campaigns are like a sprint, while social media is like a marathon.
Prepare for the marathon
Preparing for a marathon can take months of training. It’s not like you can get up and run 26 miles if you’ve never run before. You’ve got to build up the capacity to handle running that far.
Social media is similar. It’s not like you can dive in and build a community if you haven’t done anything else in social media before. You’ve got to build up to it. You’ve got to establish processes.
Social media is process driven. Focus on building one competency at a time. For example, you might start with listening and monitoring to get a pulse of what’s happening in your industry. This is a great way to learn and get educated before you move into publishing. Once you’re comfortable with listening add another competency and master that. And continue to add new processes one at a time so you don’t burn out or crash.
Share the workload
Asking one person or department to drag the organization along in a marathon is a recipe for failure. The operative word in social media is “social.” Companies don’t win at social media with a command and control style. The companies that succeed share the responsibility.
The more people in your organization you can empower and get involved in your social media processes, the more impact you can have. Share the responsibilities beyond marketing, and incorporate the tools into product management, customer service, sales and even accounting. Every department can benefit from these tools.
Sharing the load also lets you do more with less. There’s only so far one person can run. When an organization works together they can cover so much more distance.
It’s clear social media is here to stay. Over 90,000 people registered to attend Dreamforce ‘12. The focus of the conference this year was on the social enterprise, and there were hundreds of vendors presenting on the growth of the space.
Social media is growing in leaps and bounds, and marketing departments are already well aware of its influence. The challenge is refocusing the marketing department’s budget, resources, processes and metrics to commit to the marathon—because it’s going to be a long one.