Integrating Social Media Into a Traditional Marketing Plan

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If you followed the advice in my First Things First post, then you have developed your business goals and are starting work on a marketing plan. I know this may seem like business 101, I am continually amazed at how often ‘seat of the pants’ is the default mode of many operations.

There are many MANY resources online for how to develop a marketing plan.  Your particular situation will determine how you proceed. What are some of the considerations you might wish to deal with as you integrate social media into your plan? Here’s a quick and  (surely too) simple checklist. I’ll deal with these in more detail moving forward, but they can give you a quick calibration of your efforts.

  1. Remember that what you ultimately want to do is sell (gasp—yes, even you nonprofits). People buy from people/organizations that they like and trust. Keep that top of mind as you proceed.
  2. Evaluate your product or service. Make it the best it can be. If you want people to like and trust you–your product and service shouldn’t be a barrier to that. If you have work to do here, consider developing a collaborative strategy that engages your customers to help you improve, or get your ducks in a row prior to launching a social media campaign.
  3. Listen. A traditional approach might use press clipping services and professional monitoring. You might still need that, but social media gives you tools like alerts and searches to track conversations on your own. Take advantage of this – and automate the process so that results find you. Most importantly, make sure your plan addresses how you will ACT on what you learn.
  4. Know your customers (a.k.a. know your market). Who are they? How are they different from each other? Where do they hangout online? How do most of them participate online?
  5. Once you know the answers to #4, determine the best venues to setup outposts on the social web to engage with your customers. Don’t assume that Twitter and Facebook are the answers to this question. They may not be.
  6. Develop coherent and sustainable communication strategies to engage with your customers both on the outposts, and on your home site.
  7. How will you add value? What can you offer to Twitter users that is unique to Twitter? Same question/answer with Facebook, Friendfeed, etc. Make your outposts work for you by working for them.
  8. How will the above help you reach your goals?

Final advice: don’t be afraid to ask big questions. Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. And be fearless as you develop your answers. You are integrating a new set of tools and opportunities into your plans – you might be surprised where they lead you.

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