Posted by Jeff Adelson-Yan (@jeffadelsonyan)
The Olympic Games are like your social strategy: a lot of time, energy and dedication go into planning to ensure your top performance on game day. But in the end, the true test of how well you’ve prepared comes down to putting your strategy into play.
By this time, you’ve done your initial social intelligence research to listen to what is already being said about your brand across the social sphere. You’ve done your homework by looking into the available social platforms and have determined which make the most sense for your brand. And you’ve developed your goals, asking yourself all of the relevant questions about what you truly hope to gain from your social presence.
In other words, you have your battle plan – it’s time to deploy the troops! Get active in the social space and begin engaging with your audience by launching the executions you originally outlined.
Now that you know which platforms you want to be on, you need to create accounts within each before you can get the social communication ball rolling. This sounds simple enough, but you have to think about creative branding on each of the platforms. And while the branding may be slightly different from platform to platform due to design restraints, they should be cohesive. This means a similar company description and profile, logo and branded skin (where possible on sites that allow for customized profile designs, like Twitter skins, YouTube designs and Facebook Timeline photos and tabs). Within each of your social profiles, you should include a link back to your website and possibly even link to your other social profiles.
Social Content Calendar
By this point, you should have your social activity or content calendar developed and ready to go. This is basically an editorial calendar that allows you to lay out what content you plan to publish and when. Using a social content calendar makes your life easier. It provides the “big picture” view of your content from the various platforms and accounts, making content management more efficient and allowing you to balance the type of content you share. While you can use any format you want, simply using an Excel spreadsheet or Google Document often makes the most sense.
Update & Monitor
There are countless tools available for monitoring and managing your social presence. By now, you should have decided which tools you plan to use. Hootsuite and TweetDeck, for example, are dashboards that allow you to schedule and monitor your social content for multiple accounts within multiple platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and more. In addition, Hootsuite allows you to set up streams to easily monitor conversations while organizing them by account, content or platform.
Track, Measure, Analyze & Refine
During the deployment phase, you should also begin measuring, evaluating and refining. In fact, you will want to start measuring the moment you start engaging. Measurement of your pre-defined KPIs will allow you to assign value to executions, platforms and audiences. This is the time to find out what is working and adjust your social activity schedule to capitalize on these trends. Adjust strategy and activity schedule as needed since social is a dynamic space and brands need to be prepared to evolve along with the consumer’s ever-changing mindset.
Not to sound like a broken record, but if you can’t track something, it’s probably not worth doing. That said, there are numerous ways to track, measure and analyze the effectiveness of your social presence, allowing you to optimize, adjust your strategy and better allocate resources. And as with most other tools in the digital world, there are both basic and advanced options available.
The basic tools are great for what we call “convenience metrics.” These are the metrics that are typically easy to track, but probably don’t provide a whole lot of insight into how your campaigns are performing in terms of your most important, bottom-line goals, but that isn’t to say you should totally disregard them. For example, tools like Hootsuite and various URL shorteners, such as ow.ly and bitly, allow you to see which updates received the most clicks. This can be helpful in determining the best time of day to post updates, the best days of the week, the type of messaging that results in higher engagement, etc.
However, you want to get to the heart of it all. Maybe people are clicking on your content, but is it driving them to your website? And once they land on your website, what are they doing? How does your brand’s Twitter account stack up to its Facebook account in terms of lead generation and other KPIs (key performance indicators)? This is the kind of deeper level insight you can gain through more advanced tools, such as Google Analytics or – even more advanced – Omniture, Adobe’s Digital Marketing Suite.
If you’ve successfully followed all of the steps above and in the previous parts of the “Sink or Swim” series, it’s now game time. You’re finally ready to put your social strategy into play. But never forget the crucial, ongoing elements to any successful social strategy: continuously measure, analyze and refine. After all, just like an Olympian, the hard work doesn’t stop on day one of the games.
More from the “Sink or Swim” series:
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