Who owns social media?

03 August 2010

This post was originally published at PRINKS.

They say if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In the marketing world this means when a client comes to us with a problem, we assume our discipline has the solution. If we’re humble sometimes we may admit only part of the solution. So who does it best?

As an example let’s look at the question of the virtual hour. Who owns social media – PR/comms? Advertising? Digital creative? Citizen journalists? No one?

Forget ownership by discipline. Social media, just like every other marketing channel, is owned by strategy.

If you’re in PR, don’t buy the top keywords for a Google Adwords campaign and consider SEO ticked. If you’re in advertising don’t assume a few links broadcasted each day equals community management.

I’d like to hand this explanation over to some of my favourite smart cookies. I asked them all these three questions:

1. Why is your niche a must-have component of a marketing strategy?

2. How does your discipline compliment an integrated marketing solution?

3. Why do you need a strategic approach to your area?

Here’s what they had to say.

SEO

Kristin Rohan, Founder & Director, SassySEO

Search engine optimization store, Shoreditch, London, UK SEO is the foundation of any online presence – whether a site, blog or social media engagements. SEO is about doing research, analysing data to focus content & ensure it is valuable & relevant to the audience. SEO is also about helping people find your site and easily engage with you – to lead them through the sales cycle and then analysing what’s happening– optimising the site, social channels, and content to improve rankings, visibility, awareness & create quality relationships.

SEO compliments an integrated marketing solution because it can be useful in any area of marketing – keyword research is used in content & messaging, competitive analysis is used in defining brand or niche, analysing visitor/site stats is critical to understanding target audience, optimising social media engagements is needed so businesses can find & attract quality prospects.

It’s imperative SEO is a strategy so a business will start thinking about focusing their products, messaging & content from the beginning — a proper SEO strategy will enable this. A new site needs proper focus, organisation & content — and a firm plan to lead prospects and customers through the site to maximise opportunities to engage them in the community, with your business or in a sale. SEO should also be part of Social Media Strategy so the proper measurements/analytics are put in place, relevant & valuable content is shared, and data is analysed to improve participation in their community.

PR

Kim McKay, Director, Klick Communications

Social media in itself is the perfect conduit for text book PR. Universities preach to their students about “two-way symmetrical communication” and that’s exactly how PR works in social media. Relationships, engagement, communication… all these interactive elements that are at the crux of PR are also those which make a social media marketing strategy effective.

PR is the glue that ties it all together. PR is reliant on receivership and response, and in this way it is not only a way to gauge the success of an integrated marketing solution, but also the fuel which motors the next move.

PR (anything in fact) without strategy is a bit like baking a cake for the first time without a recipe; it can be done but it probably won’t be good. PR is a multifaceted practice, and you need the right measure of all the integral elements in order to produce anything decent.

Media

Joel Pearson, Online Account Manager, PHD Media

Media strategy and channel planning play the crucial role of identifying audience and when and where to reach them. The best creative idea on earth is nothing if nobody see’s it.

The way I approach media planning I believe that it is crucial that all people involved in the strategic direction of the campaign ensure they are on the same path before any actually planning occurs. Ensuring everyone is working towards the same business outcomes and that they want to communicate the same thing allows for a much more integrated planning style that ensures the media works with the creative messaging instead of just acting as a housing for it. Too often a media agency pulls together a plan, a creative agency has some concepts and the two are forced to work together even though the advertising may look like shit within a tiny banner.

All elements of marketing require a strategic approach. In particular when assessing and choosing media you need to understand in what way you are planning to influence thinking or behaviour because different mediums are consumed in very different ways and are processed in different areas of the brain. This kind of detail needs to be balanced with both media and production costs as well as business outcomes in order to come up with the optimal mix of media to deliver the clients campaign.

Community Management

Nicola Swankie, Account Director, McCann Sydney

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual MashupsHow can you be proactive in controlling the sentiment of your brand that is out there?  To do that we know we need to be a part of the conversation, listening, giving our customers something of value and transparently acting on what we hear.    But how do you credibly join in that conversation and where?

I believe through being a part of your customers’ community or create a community they want to be a part of.   Online or offline. The words Social Media can be scary.  But if your brand goes in with the right kind of approach and role within a community where you do something your customers will value either from an engagement or utility point of view it should result in positive sentiment and results for the business.

I really like Gareth Kay’s thinking   on how today we need ideas that do, not ideas that say.  For me any great marketing solution will always involve an idea that does something and involves people in it.  And where you have a whole bunch of people involved in doing something, to bring it to life you essentially will build a community around it by default.

The purpose of community should always come from the strategic direction and purpose of your business overall.  Whether you choose to join a community or create one yourself it is important to ensure you can link what you are doing back to business results and metrics.   A solid strategic approach should ensure that it does.

Think you deserve the lead on an integrated social media campaign? Your strategy should be managed by someone who understands and respects every element, even if only to brief (and not execute) other components. This will sort your truly strategic marketers from those using a buzzword as an invoice line item.d

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