The other day I had a potential client ask me how to integrate social media into his “regular” marketing plan. I actually took his question as a good sign. It showed he was already beyond where many companies are with his social media marketing thinking. So many times I see businesses that have slapped social media onto existing marketing programs like a wart and are hoping that somehow it comes across as a concerted marketing effort. Still, the question struck me a bit funny. No one ever asks me how to integrate advertising or PR into their marketing plans. That would seem ridiculous right? It would be like asking how to integrate cold into ice cream, but somehow with social media marketing the question is given some legitimacy.
Now I totally understand that in most respects social media marketing is very different from traditional marketing. Social media is more interactive, is inbound rather than outbound oriented, and is focused more on content versus advertising messages. But those differences really don’t matter when you are talking about your overall marketing plan. What matters is the same thing that has always mattered: What are you trying to achieve, what are your goals?
Once you determine your goals, then you can work toward figuring out the best way to achieve those goals using ALL of the marketing tools at your disposal, including social media. The key is making sure you understand all of the tools available to you well enough to know which ones best fit your goals and your budget.
The best way to integrate social media into your marketing is not to “integrate” it. In my mind, integrating is just a small step beyond slapping the wart on the side. It still sounds like an afterthought or some outside force that has to be considered separately. The key is making sure that you are creating plans that will meet your goals and use your entire marketing mix, including both traditional and social media marketing.
The diagram below, which was created by Dion Hinchcliffe from the Dachis Group, provides an excellent example of how to look at the entire marketing process. He uses the customer journey to demonstrate how the different aspects of marketing can be employed to continue to move customers along that journey. As you can see in the diagram, there are places where traditional marketing fits better, places where social media fits better and places where all the marketing tools can be used to help customers move along in their customer journey.
Social media isn’t a wart here or even an integration into a regular marketing plan. It is a marketing tool to be used where needed, just like other traditional marketing tools.
So don’t integrate social media into your marketing plan. Instead, develop your marketing plan using all of the appropriate tools that can be leveraged to achieve your goals. Here are the five steps you need to take in order to do so.
1. Determine your goals
What are you trying to achieve? Here you need to be as specific as possible. You can start with a big goal: Increase revenue by 10%. But you need to dig underneath that goal to determine what the small goals are that can help get you there. For example:
- Increase conversions by 5%
- Reduce customer churn by 1 percentage point per year
- Sell an average of .25 more products per existing customer, per year
2. Know your tools
You can’t create a plan without fully understanding how each of your tools can work for you. An architect would never design a building without understanding the properties of various building materials and what they are good for. The same is true for a marketer, make sure you understand all of the tools available to you and how they can help you in achieving your goals. Not sure how social media marketing works or what it can do? Then start learning! Here is an excellent blog post to get you started.
3. Create your plan
Now that you’ve established your goals and you know your tools, you can create your plan. This is where you bring in all of your marketing elements and form them into a cohesive whole. Make sure you are addressing each aspect of the plan along the entire customer journey, beginning with brand awareness and carrying through purchase and advocacy.
4. Implement your plan
Now comes the hard part – putting your plan into action. Time to break-down your plan into specific actions and assign them to the right people to get it done (or in the case of a one person marketing team, you get to assign them to yourself!).
5. Track it!
I know I say this one a lot and in the future I’ll have a blog essentially dedicated to it, but it just can’t be emphasized enough. It’s a rare marketing plan that so perfectly predicts the future actions of your customers that it doesn’t need to be at least tweaked a little. Since you know you goals and you know how you got to this point, you should have a clear understanding of whether you are on track on if you need to make some adjustments to get you where you need to be.