In social media, things are constantly changing, new platforms are being developed, new research is being released, and audience wants/needs are changing. This rapid pace has major implications for brands embarking on a new social media initiative or growing an existing program. Think about 5 or 10 years ago…do you remember news on the predicted the success of Facebook? The rise of mobile users? The new platforms that were just in development? It’s virtually impossible for marketers to predict what social media will look like in a few years. For example, Pinterest grew rapidly (after a bit of a slow burn) thanks to a combination of a trend for consumers to favor visuals, the rise of responsive web design, increased support for mobile data use, and a decrease in attention spans. It’s easy to see how a a brand may feel that they need to take advantage of the latest and greatest trend in social media to stay current. However, a further evaluation may reveal that the new platform isn’t a good fit for the brand’s target audience or business objectives. For this reason, it’s critical to review social media as part of the overall business objectives, not just in a vacuum. Frequent and thorough evaluation paired with careful strategic planning will help drive continued growth of a social media initiative, no matter the changes to the trends or technology.
What do we want to accomplish?
Before launching any social media initiative, you have to define your social media goals and what success looks like for the company. It’s tempting to want to try a variety of new tools or platforms, especially when the cost-to-entry appears “practically free” at face value. It can be helpful to review (or create, if you have not already) your SWOT analysis and TOWS matrix. Your social media goals should always align with your overall business objectives, and any new approach should complement those goals. Since things move so rapidly, it can feel like a new “opportunity” presents itself weekly. Your TOWS matrix can help you to prioritize those opportunities that maximize positive results for your brand.
What does success look like for our brand?
If you identify what success looks like before you get started, it will be easier to select tactics that are cost-effective and results-oriented. However, with so many quantitative and qualitative measures available, it’s easy to get lost in the forest and lose sight of the trees. Choose evaluation measures that help you to best see the success of your selected objectives. For example, Bonin Bough said that for the Pepsi brand, reviewing brand health and overall relevance was the best predictor of success for their social media initiative. Using this information, as Bonin suggests, you can create scorecards that allow you to track results more frequently (daily, weekly, or monthly).
When are we finished?
Never! Because of the frequent changes in the social space, marketers need to constantly research, research, research! Pull historical data for key performance indicators, find relevant case studies, review recent data surveys, and attend conferences relevant to your industry and marketing communications. If you’re not connecting with other professionals and learning something new every single day, you’re falling behind. Bring what you’ve learned to the table when you review your initiative against the evaluation measure you have selected. This will help you to review your successes and failures with a fresh eye, and give you the background that you need to further refine your strategy.