If Social Media is So Important, Why Isn’t It Part of Your Marketing Strategy?

Marketing Research Insights

As social media marketing continues to evolve, marketers have been quick to adopt the lingo. Yet take a deeper look at their plans and you’ll find that social media adoption is still not a high strategic priority based on Jive Software and Penn, Schoen & Berland research. Like steering a large ocean liner whose course is set, changing the marketing course within an organization can be difficult in a dynamic social media environment.

About four out of five marketing executives acknowledge the importance of a well-defined social media strategy as an integral component of their marketing mix.

Interestingly, believing in the need for an integrated social media strategy doesn’t translate into business priorities. One out of five executives who have final say or significant input on social business strategy thought social business strategy wasn’t necessary, about half of these executives thought social media was needed but not a strategic priority, and three out of ten executives thought that social media was a top strategic priority.

Based on this research, it would appear that marketers are all talk but no action when it comes to social media. Examine the research more closely and you’ll find that almost twice as many medium size businesses consider social media a high strategic priority compared to both small and large businesses. This makes sense. While examples of social media’s ability to level the playing field for small David versus Goliath firms abound, the reality is that social media marketing requires significant time input, something that’s in scarce supply for most small businesses. Further, small businesses must keep their revenue stream flowing. By contrast, large companies have more internal challenges involved in any form of business change.

7 suggestions to make social media a corporate priority

When it comes to social media, marketers must make a strong business case. To help you achieve this, here are seven steps to bring your organization closer to making social media a corporate priority.

  1. Monitor the environment. As I’ve said before, every company regardless of whether it’s actively involved in social media or not should be listening to what’s being said and what the competition’s doing. In a 24/7 media world this is critical to be on top of potential flare-ups that can grow into fires.
  2. Do the simple stuff that doesn’t require lots of resources. Your goal should be to protect your organization while giving credibility to your endorsement of social media. Start by creating a set of social media guidelines to protect your firm and your employees. Add social media sharing to the various  aspects of your marketing and content. This enables you to cost-effectively broaden your reach. Assess where you can make your content marketing social media-friendly.
  3. Test social media. If you haven’t yet started testing the use of social media for your organization, consider which platform is optimal for your needs. Further, set a strategy and related metrics for this implementation to ensure that your efforts can be tracked and presented to senior management.
  4. Analyze social media test results. As with any marketing test, monitor the results against your goals. If you’ve set up metrics before you started, this can simplify your ability to track results.
  5. Make a management case for social media marketing. Using the results from your test, show how social media can help your organization’s marketing to achieve its business objectives. Bear in mind that it’s easier to start small and expand. Start by leveraging existing resources across your organizations. Understand that using social media effectively can require different skills than currently exist in your firm.
  6. Change resource allocation. To fully use social media across your organization requires thinking about where you need resources including hiring a social media manager, it may be in marketing, PR, analytics, or customer service. Where possible, offer employees the ability to participate and engage with your customers since they know your organization the best. Of course, in the short term, you can always hide your social media marketing spend.
  7. Integrate social media into marketing. As your organization gains experience with social media, hopefully you’ll be able to get senior management buy-in to help you expand your activities. Work to incorporate social media and related content marketing into your overall plans to ensure that it works to achieve your objectives.

The bottom line is that it’s relatively easy to integrate the latest buzzwords into your marketing plan discussions, but it’s difficult to change your company’s organization.

How does your organization’s experience compare to this research?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here are some related articles to help you with social media in your organization.

Photo credit: marxchivist via Flickr

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