How to Create a Measurable Social Media Marketing Campaign

Social media marketing IS measurable if you use it as it was intended. However, it means that companies can no longer operate in a vacuum and expect a successful launch of a new product or service.

I have clients contact me all the time asking how they can utilize the social media universe to boost their business. Thanks to a lot of the so-called “gurus” out there, they’ve been hoodwinked into believing there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Social media can be a great marketing tool but like all other marketing methodologies, every situation requires a unique strategy.

Take for instance the most brilliant use of Twitter I’ve seen yet. Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go, the LA fast food street vendors, use Twitter to supply fans with up-to-the-second information on where their trucks will be next. Fast moving social media for fast moving food. I have yet to see another company that “gets it” like they do. Is that the answer for everyone? Not a chance.

Could Twitter work for General Motors, General Mills or General Electric? It’s possible if it were part of a campaign designed around a particular product or service launch.

If General Motors wanted to generate long-term excitement about a new electric car they were engineering, they could have a combination of engineers, designers, researchers, technicians, testers and test drivers blogging about their progress, difficulties they encounter, solutions they develop, and team dynamics (gossip) to keep the story fresh for reporters and the public. Each of their posts would be automatically uploaded to Twitter to keep a never ending stream of posts available for the curious.

That would also alleviate the biggest complain we get from clients. “My people don’t have enough time to blog every day or even three times a week.” It’s all about leveraging social media according to your abilities and integrating it into your daily product and service development process.

General Electric could do the same thing if they ever get to work on another nuclear power plant. To keep the public interested and informed and to combat fear and ignorance, they could post interesting stories about the day to day development of the plant, human interest stories about the real people involved, and post certifications and safety documents.

I recently was invited by a “marketing firm” to attend a taste test for a series of microwaveable food products. The products actually sounded interesting. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about them because of the tendency of marketers to try to filter out all “distractions” to get to your “opinion.”

While taste tests have their place, treating a food product like a sterile laboratory experiment does nothing to generate excitement and interest. In my opinion, (and no one is claiming humility here) they would be much further ahead engaging the public through social media right from the first concept meeting, through the development phase, right up through packaging design and launch, getting up to the minute feedback from potential customers, press, food networks, food magazines, the mind boggles. Imagine the launch of any product that the public feels they were heavily involved in the development of?

Public taste tests with free food. Contests throughout the development phase. Imagine using Twitter to notify people where and when the trucks will be arriving in hip locations, or better yet, giving out clues as to where the trucks will be with cool giveaways and free food testing? Hmmm…sounds familiar…

Companies have operated in secret for so long, that it’s extremely difficult to get them to trust the public to help them develop a good product or service. Developing a product in secret and then pasting a marketing plan over it is the most difficult and failure prone way to launch a product or service.

Engaging the public throughout the whole process so that when you release it YOU KNOW that you have a saleable product with an already developed fan base is how you can exactly measure the effects of social media marketing.

What Does a Social Media Analyst Really Do All Day?

Social media sites are fun places to hang out (over 500 million on Facebook as of this writing seem to think so anyway), and most people are using them to stay in touch with friends from school, family and to play games like Farmville. At first glance it might, for some, seem fanciful to make a career out of what, for most, is nothing but a pastime.

The truth is that careers in social media are becoming more and more mainstream. Look around Facebook and you’ll notice that companies like R+L Carriers and Ford (to name a couple) are embracing social media as legitimate marketing channel. Ford experimented by launching their new Ford Explorer exclusively on their Facebook page. R+L Carriers uses its presence to create relationships with followers by posting shipping tips, industry news and articles to help the businesses that use their services thrive.

So we’ve established that careers in social media do exist, and that they are becoming more mainstream. But you’re still probably wondering where Social Media Analysts come from, and what they do all day.

Where does a Social Media Analyst come from?
They typically come from a marketing background with a heavy reliance on web based technologies. Some come from Internet or IT positions, some from traditional marketing positions and some from web design. A communications or journalism background is typical too. Most have a mix of traditional marketing and Internet technology skills with a strong writing or communications skill set.

What is a typical day like?
The first thing most analysts will do each morning is check all channels to see if there are any mentions of their company or brand. Since conversations on social media require an immediate response, an analyst will follow up immediately or reach out to various company departments to develop a response tailored to the specific information needed. There is a real time sensitivity to this activity, so timeliness is priority.

After initial conversations are addressed, analysts may spend time brainstorming or writing blog or web site content, planning and strategizing future campaigns, meeting with department heads to ensure strategies are on-track with marketing and customer service, and tracking campaigns and reporting. A portion of their day will be spent reading trend reports and business articles to stay in touch with the latest technologies and marketing theories.

Reporting is a huge part of any marketing campaign, and social media is no exception. Of course analysts will track basic stats like followers, click-throughs, fans, comments and traffic, but we also monitor conversations happening around the brand both on and off our pages and carefully structure responses that are in line with the company’s strategy. Often, analysts will meet regularly with multiple departments to educate staff about the focus of the social media channel and the ways in which they can contribute and support the efforts.

The take away? Social Media Analysts do more than tweet and post to Facebook. They are responsible for a multitude of company functions and must create relationships within the company to support their efforts.

Is this simply a new fangled marketing position?
This position is part marketing, yes, but it’s also much more. It includes elements of customer service, product knowledge, company culture and employee relations, and a typical day might involve all these elements at once. These various responsibilities require good communication skills and the ability to gather information from multiple areas within the company.

At the end of the day…
In a nutshell, a Social Media analyst position is about promoting a company’s brand and company culture through new technologies and non traditional platforms while interacting with current and potential customers in a real time environment. It’s more than just posting to Facebook and Twitter. It is a fast paced and challenging career that continues to evolve, and since the internet is never turned off, it can often be all consuming. So rest assured Mom, I do have a real job – honest!