How To Spot A Great Social Media Marketing Program

I’ve previously written posts on how to find and vet digital marketing talent as well as how to choose an online marketing or PR agency. Along those lines of thinking, today I was reading through my feeds and came across a post on how to spot great SEO. Nick shares some smart thinking here:

SEO is truly a mindset a business or a person must realize that it is more than just search engine rankings. The companies and individuals that realize this are the ones that are really reaping the benefits of marketing themselves online in the search engine space. Great search engine optimization doesn’t just happen overnight or with some “tool” you found out there to make it happen quicker. Really good search engine optimization is a craft that takes time to acquire and the companies that are doing it right are visible in many areas.

Social media is an exact parallel, don’t you think?

  • Social media is more than just friends or followers
  • Success doesn’t just happen overnight or simply by using automation
  • It is a craft that takes time to hone and embed within the thinking of everyone at the organization
  • The companies doing it right are visible in many areas (and significant outperforming the rest)

Naturally my next thought was to share a list on how to spot a great social media program.  So here you go:

Well referenced across the industry/category

Not just on ranking or influencer lists – but media (all types)  are organically referencing the brand (or artist, person etc.). As I noted in a post on the necessity for your brand to become referential – the benefits to this are clear:

The web is a referential medium.  Bloggers and digitally-savvy journalists understand the concept of linking as a source, and instead of having to re-explain something already fleshed out, we just link as proof.  It’s simple and as still as effective as ever, even in a real-time world.

And so, being referential remains a powerful position to be in.  Whether your company blog, newsroom, resource center or even team members are referential, those in such a position have a decided advantage over competitors.  It provides increasing returns as you’re spending far less effort on outbound efforts and can focus more on inbound.

Logical workflow across channels & integration with other communications

It’s obvious when looking at brands dominating their competitors socially they have consciously sculpted a workflow of content through their channels designed to achieve their objective. Content is syndicated in a way that provides value to users and also supports the growth of their community. Further, social is integrated across the company’s communications programs beyond just website buttons – they’re actually integrating into their larger communications strategy and dedicating resources to the effort. Companies truly at the edge are taking customer feedback from their communities and using it to improve their products ahead of competitors.

Consistent and creative

Great social media programs maintain consistency and share of voice over time. A mature social media program maintains consistency without sacrificing the signal to noise ratio. Concurrently those already in a groove with their efforts and maintaining share of voice understand that buzz is a critical element to inject into their efforts – and can pour fuel on already increasing metrics. But only after you have the basics down does buzz make sense.

Intersection of social media and SEO

Savvy online marketers understand that social media and SEO have an intersection point. Not that this hasn’t been in play for years, but with the engines explicitly saying they look at search signals, it should be clear enough for everyone that SEO and social don’t operate in a vacuum. Integration of search with social is just another element that separates the good from the great.

Working as a team – brands, partners, even customers

While many social media marketing programs start as efforts with just a few, the ones that show results end up drawing many from an organization in. Let’s face it, everyone wants to be a part of winning efforts. And success generally breeds more success – with partners and even customers getting into the mix bringing more visibility to the brand.

Passionate and motivated team

Recently I shared a post on ways to keep your social team motivated.  It’s clear from the outside looking in that great social media marketing programs have a motivated team because, in essence they have to. There’s too much involved to make the best programs a success than to have this any other way.

Management is fully-bought in

The resource allocation necessary for truly great social marketing requires buy-in from management. But it’s more than just resources in the form of funding or team members. It’s trust. It’s comprehension and education. In fact, in the future we’ll see the way companies embrace social technologies shift, as Brian Solis puts it, from an outside-in, bottom-up groundswell to a top-down, inside-out pivot. No matter what the motivation or persuasion for companies to get social – if you talk with the management teams of companies running truly great social media programs you can tell immediately they are 100% bought in.

This is of course a shortlist – what else should we add?