Erecting a Social Media Strategy Using POST
By Liese Gardner
While working with clients on their social media strategies, I never summarily assume that one strategy fits all. The process begins with the questions that are at the heart of ANY marketing campaign — what are your objectives? Who do you want to reach? What is the ultimate goal?
While I believe social media works, it’s not for everyone or every campaign, at least not yet. One reason? It takes a little bit of time to build a Twitter or Facebook audience organically. Another reason? At this stage of the social media game, you might not even find your clients using these tools yet. So while it might be fun to tweet, if your market is not there listening then your message is just blowing in the wind and you look to other ways to reach them.
And, even though social media is successful for driving traffic to your web or blog, building a community or widening your circle of influence, it too requires a well-thought out campaign that begins with the same questions: “Who do you want to reach? What do you want to say? What will the results look like?” From these answers strategy is born.
Since social media is still so new and changing every minute, there aren’t many tried and true rules yet (and there may never be). However, I did find a great acronym that helps layout the structure of a social media campaign. On the web site of Forrester Researchers, two of Forrester’s researchers, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, have written a book on social media technologies called Groundswell and in it they coined a phrase — POST — that works like this …
POST (as described by Josh Bernoff on the Groundswell blog)
P is People. Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out to business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Just don’t start without thinking about it.
O is objectives. Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.
S is Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.
T is Technology. A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.
Although Bernoff uses his T for technology, it could easily be Tools or Tactics. And in addition to blogs, add in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, as well as web sites and e-mail blasts (which yes, still have their place in a marketing campaign).
All these tools work together to start the conversation, get the word out and increase your exposure to new markets. But once again, like any marketing campaign, its only as good as the strategy which always begins at People.
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