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This chapter is from the book

When You Add "Marketing," It's About Business

The formative years of social media marketing are behind us. This is not an exploratory time anymore. Social media professionals are helping businesses grow through emerging technologies. When you add the word marketing to social media, it's about business. Draw that line to the bottom line, or go home.

A few years ago, the social media purists got the marketplace all hyped up about just that: hype. Let's gather in a circle and sing, "Kumbaya," with our beloved customers. Let's "join the conversation" and "talk with, not at" them. Let's "engage" and become a "social business."

It sounds nice, in a very holding-hands-in-a-circle kind of way, but that can't be all we do. We have to make money, or else we cease to have a profitable business.

Still, the tree huggers and hippies of the online world got half of the equation right. We do have to join the conversation. The new consumer requires us to engage and talk with, not at them. We can probably forego the "Kumbaya" circle, but turning traditional marketing around to focus on the consumer and not the brand is imperative for successful online marketing today.

So let us take that direction and do what we do best: Make social media about business.

Social media marketing becomes realistic, actionable, and measurable when you approach it strategically. That is, implement one or more of the seven things social media marketing can do for your business and do the following:

  1. Set goals your company wants to focus on
  2. Create measurable objectives within each that accomplish your goals
  3. Produce strategies or concepts to execute that accomplish your objectives
  4. Create tactics or tasks that accomplish your strategies or concepts
  5. Build measurement systems to evaluate the implementation of your plan

None of these five items are new to anyone who has taken a business or marketing course where strategic communication planning was covered. As Jason often says, "This ain't rocket surgery."

What seems to be difficult for most businesses is not thinking strategically, but rather remembering to do so. Today's pace of business is frenetic at best. We've forgotten to focus, to ignore the shiny, new object and get stuff done. With the ever-changing world of technology and social media tools, it's easy to—LOOK! A SQUIRREL!—be distracted by the new tool or strategy.

It's hard to plan, launch a course of action, and stay the course while integrating market changes as they arise.

By grounding your social media marketing in a strategic approach—setting goals, measurable objectives, producing strategies, creating tactics or tasks, and measuring it all—you have a plan. Installing a measurement system for control and evaluation helps you execute the plan. And executing the plan is as easy as working backward: Accomplish the tasks or tactics that execute the strategies or concepts. Those meet the objectives, which then accomplish the goals.

What happens when you approach social media marketing strategically? You see past the hype and understand that social media marketing can be real. It can be actionable. It can be measured. You acknowledge and even embrace the Kumbaya philosophies of joining the conversation, building relationships, and talking with, not at, customers.

But you don't stop there.

You view social media marketing through the eyes of your business and your customers. You see where you can provide value and where value can then return to your business.

And when all that happens, you lose your fear.

Again, it's not hard to plan. It's hard to remember, or make time, to plan. And execution is sometimes challenging, but it shouldn't be hard.

This is, after all, just communicating.

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