Social media is no longer something mysterious to businesses and the number of businesses integrating and accepting social media as part of their branding and marketing efforts are increasing as time passes. The question is – how many of them are successful in doing so? Business and social media experts generally agree that social media works when it is done right – through understanding your target audience, actively engaging and to be human when interacting.
Having that said, why do businesses still find it difficult to integrate social media into marketing strategies? With so many businesses all around the world hopping unto different social media platforms fighting for attention from the consumers, how can organizations today engage the target audience effectively?
With these questions in mind, I decided to write a research paper and to propose a Social Media Integration Framework to assist organizations (brands) when integrating a social media strategy. The research is split into two different parts where Part 1 is merely the preliminary stages of the framework (i.e. planning and design); while Part 2 will be an in-depth research upon the actual implementation / execution of the planned social media strategy.
Here’s the proposed Social Media Integration Framework:
The framework is basically a walkthrough of different phases for organizations that are looking at integrating social media that spans from identifying the objectives to the actual launch. It is meant to be a guide for marketers / decision makers on how to go about integrating social media to better their chances in being successful by ensuring the strategy produced covers the important aspects.
To test the importance of having a clearly defined social media strategy, this research compared three (3) different organizations of similar criterias:
1. from the FMCG industry;
2. have an existing social media presence quantified by a minimum of 45,000 Facebook fans and minimum page views of 500,000 – 1,000,000 monthly
3. have their social media goals derived from not more than 1% of existing traffic
4. looking to increase fan base, page views and engagement with their target audience
These organizations utilized different social media strategies where:
Company A – had no specific social media plan / strategy with a simple microsite
Company B – had a specific target audience with a product based microsite with Facebook sharing
Company C – had a specific target audience, Facebook contest microsite with sharing and online banners
Note that Company A has no social media strategy in place where Company B and C has a social media strategy derived from a process that resembles the proposed framework
From the findings above, it is seen that Company A struggled to meet their goals while Company B and C surpassed them. As seen in Company C, a well planned strategy and by being relevant to the target audience can in turn generate a larger response and level of participation. This may very well indicate that consumers are likely to participate with a brand should it be relevant to them.
This can be done by first identifying the objective(s) of brand in integrating social media, identifying the target audience and the relevant channel(s) before even attempting on putting together a strategy as illustrated in the diagram above.
This preliminary research only indicates the importance of having a well defined social media strategy in today’s businesses to maximize the level of participation with your target audience. Part 2 of the research will be looking at Part 2 of the model, the relationship between the content and the audience and an introduction to methods of monitoring social media efforts.
It will take a while before Part 2 of the research is done so hang in there!
If you’re interested in this research and would like to receive a copy of the research paper, simply leave your details below and I’ll personally drop you an email with it! On top of that, you’ll be informed when Part 2 is ready :)
Note: the academic research paper entitled “Social Media Integration Framework in the Creation of Brand Strategy: Preliminary Stage” is written by Jan Wong & Albert Quek and was presented at the Global Communications Conference 2011, expected to be published in 2012.