Social Media Strategy Starts with a Marketing Plan

I recently met with a potential client to discuss their business and where we could help them in their marketing efforts. The company is a manufacturer of printers and copiers among other things. It is a well known brand that operates globally. The Canadian operation is basically a sales team with little, if any, marketing resources. A great fit with the services we provide.

The topic soon turned to social media and their desire to get more involved in this space on a regional basis. This area, as we all know, is very topical and trendy similar to how CRM and service bundling was a few years ago.

The client was asking me what I thought about social media and how they might capitalize on this medium. My first questions were around their marketing strategy and whether they understood their target market enough to know whether social media was a relevant medium. The answer I got was surprising. The client said they didn’t have a marketing plan!

Here I was trying to head off a potential problem before it developed. It is hard to have a strategic discussion when the client doesn’t have a marketing plan to guide it. How do you know where to start from a social media standpoint if you don’t have an overarching marketing strategy? You don’t!

Understanding how and what the role of social media will be in the overall marketing mix is an important step in the process. Without this as a starting point then your efforts become tactical and not strategic. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat (Sun Tsu).

You might want to “test” social media as part of your marketing programs but until you know how or where it fits in you shouldn’t get too far. For consumer brands, social media makes a lot of sense, for B2B brands it’s questionable in terms of value. Many businesses, for example, block access in the office to social media sites like Facebook.

Now I should clarify that when I say social media I refer to the commonly known mediums of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Of course there are other elements but I am mainly referring to these communities as the basis for engaging an audience.

For this particular client I suggested they take a step back and pull together a marketing strategy/plan that looks at their web presence as a component and not in isolation. The marketing plan should be your roadmap and link to your corporate strategy. Like the old saying goes…….if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

 

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