Architecting A Social Web Marketing And PR Strategy

marketing-pr-strategyThis week, I’m in Las Vegas giving the opening presentation of MarTech at the LeadingRe Annual Conference and speaking on two other panels during the general sessions.  They’ve prepared an exciting lineup of speakers – including Guy Kawasaki, Scott Murphy, and more.

The MarTech opening session title is Architecting a Social Web Marketing & P.R. Strategy. For this presentation, I’ve decided to dial down most of my content from the deck so that event-goers focus on my words instead of reading slides.  However, to supplement my session and provide the same content to The Future Buzz community, here’s a brief written summary of what I’m presenting.

The social areas of the web are growing fast. Consider just a few stats:

  • 400 million active Facebook users (source)
  • 50 million Tweets per day (source)
  • 133 million blogs (creating 900,000 blog posts every 24 hours) and around 77% of internet users read blogs (source)

While the above numbers show the scale of the consumer driven web – B2B influence also lives here.  According to a Forrester Research report of business buyers:

  • 91% read blogs, watch user generated video, participate in other social media
  • 55% of decision-makers are in social networks
  • 43% are creating media (blogs, uploading videos or articles, etc.)

Consumers and prospects are already here.  Marketing dollars care catching up, fast:

  • $55 billion number of dollars marketers will spend on interactive (display, mobile, email, social, search) channels by 2014 -representing a compound annual growth rate of 34% (source).

Media influence, too:

  • 89% of reporters use blogs, 65% use social networking sites, and 52% use microblogging sites according to a national study by GW University.

These stats are just the tip of the iceberg, and highlight a clear trend of the last decade.  Despite the doom-and-gloom in the early 2000’s, the web kept moving forward and integrating tighter with business and our personal lives.

But, more subjectively – why is social media so compelling for marketing and PR pros?  A few of main reasons include:

  • Authenticity/personality – the world and web crave it
  • It scales popular brands that catch on just get more popular
  • Long-term storytelling – build a permission asset
  • Leverage – digital PR/marketing is your social proofing
  • Intersection with SEO – links are by-product
  • PR/Marketing have changed pull is now more effective

Your opportunity is to approach the web in a strategic manner through the development of a digital marketing/social media roadmap.

As with any marketing plan, you need to start by identifying/researching audiences, then defining objectives and developing a strategy.  Only after these first steps should you get into tools and tactics and ultimately move on to metrics/KPI measurement (and at that point, you’ll know what your objective metric is and what other numbers feed it).

So, let’s go through an outline of the basic steps:

1.  Identify audience

Identify who it is you are trying to influence.  Once you’ve defined them, start to gather data about them.  Your potential data sources include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Current website analytics
  • Google search trends
  • Data aggregation (apps like BlogPulse and Trackur)
  • Data analysis (apps like Radian 6 and Techrigy)
  • Google blog search/Twitter/Technorati search
  • Existing market data/competitive research/industry reports
  • Analysis and data uncovered by your R&D department

After you’ve uncovered the data, what exactly do you do with it?

Develop personality archetypes

Start to create personality archetypes of your audience.  Who are they, what are their motivations, what makes up the influencers/connectors?  What makes up the average user? Begin to document this in a way that’s scanable and useful.  Include both objective and subjective insights.  As you move forward into your plan and dig deeper, you can come back and make this section even more robust.

Identify popular content/ideas

What types of content, ideas or imagery resonates with this audience?  Start to track and document what they’re sharing like crazy or always linking to.  This data will help you learn to tap into existing demand and model the already popular archetypes.  It will also help you predict what’s coming next and be the one to capitalize on it.  Also try and make correlations between popular content/ideas and personality types of influencers identified during this process.

Matrix trending data (including competitive intelligence)

Take your audience data and begin to trend it over time in a way that is useful and accessible at a glance, such as popularity of content within Google search trends or Twitter trends.  The past can help you map the future.  You’ll be able to make connections today even if you’re not tracking this data since others are already doing so for you.  By studying it, you’ll gain insight into the ebbs and flows of the niches that matter to your business.

2.  Define objectives

What are your end goals from this audience?  What is it you want from them?  Just a few example objectives I’ve worked with include:

  • Increase organic leads
  • Build thought leadership
  • Inspire publicity
  • Increase organic search engine traffic
  • Improve recruiting
  • Improve customer relationships/retention
  • Build a community

Of course, your objectives will vary depending on your business.  Social media marketing application is only limited by your creativity.

3.  Develop strategy

After audience is identified and your objective(s) are fleshed out, you are now ready to define a strategic approach.  This is driven by audience data + objective + industry insight + creativity.  All tactics implemented in the next steps should be driven by the strategy.  Consider common digital strategy development mistakes prior to finalizing this.

4.  Implement tools/tactics

Only at this point should you define tools/tactics.  As Matt Dickman stated previously – if you want better digital strategy, ban these 7 dirty words.  Most marketing and PR pros skip immediately to this step.  And while it makes sense to experiment with different tools/tactics, they should still roll to the strategic approach (which needs to be locked down first).

Potential tools include anything from blogs and microblogging, to social news sites/networks, to content formats such as videos, podcasts and images.

Points to keep in mind when fleshing out tools/tactics

Ultimately, you want to siphon users out of the horizontal social sites – which have a signal to noise ratio you do not control – to your own social channel (perhaps a blog, as just one example).  Networks can and do fall out of favor and to vest too much time and effort into sites like Twitter or Facebook comes at the opportunity cost of building your own leverage on the web you earn by having your own site.

Activate SEO intersection

All social media activity should be mindful of search engine optimization.  5 basic tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Create a social media keyword glossary of popular social terms, cross reference with your search keyword glossary.
  2. Title/tag social content appropriately.
  3. Conduct digital asset optimization on images, PDFs, and videos.
  4. Leverage/repurpose content across channels.
  5. Create linkbait/social media friendly content.

Of course feed your content into your social channels, but ultimately realize your community has greater power to do this than you.  Inspire a group to organically raise your brand’s search equity naturally.

5.  Metrics/measurement

Measurement is key with a social web strategy, and defining the KPIs that matter to your brand is vital.

Some potential metrics to measure include:

  • Number of subscribers
  • Overall unique visitors
  • Conversions/conversion sources
  • Branded searches/non-branded searches
  • Search engine traffic
  • Visitor to subscriber conversion ratios
  • Followings in “outposts”
  • Referral traffic
  • Quality and quantity of engagement across platforms

For much more details on measurements/KPIs, check out my post at Online Marketing Blog on web analytics reporting.

Case Studies

After the plan outline, I’ll be taking the audience through several case studies that would each require their own blog post to do justice.  With that said, for readers here, following are a few fleshed out case studies to help you start formulating your own ideas, lock down your plan, and execute next steps:

image credit: Taylor Jackson via Shutterstock