Pace your social media strategy

12 Jul
July 12, 2010

That is of course, if you have one in the first place.

There is often confusion in the “strategy” and the “plan”. Let’s think of it this way, do you remember the “forest theory” as stated in the book, Seven habits of highly effective people? Don’t fail to see the forest because of the trees. More often than not, we are so engrossed in trying to “cut down the trees” that we don’t realise we have been bulldozing in the wrong forest all these while. So think of the strategy as “the forest” and plan as “the tree”. Hence, a move such as creating a facebook page is not a strategy, it is an execution that is part of the plan. So each time you are excite by an execution, take a step back and review what is your strategy. We know that in business, we are often restricted by budgets and resources. So keeping tabs and checking back regularly will ensure that these resources and money are put into best use and not in clearing a wrong forest at the end of the day.

So once you have your strategy in place, you start drawing out your plans, which may include building of properties, content etc. While you are eagerly trying to grow your fans and having fun with the social media hype, please pause and make sure you have done the following :

  • Study your consumer behaviours… not solely on your site/page but on your competitors’ as well. Who are your target audience? When are they logging on? What are they interested in? If you have a social media consultant, please seek his/her advice. If you have engaged him/her based on their experience/capabilities, trust that they may have a few good advice for you.
  • What, when, where?… On a day-to-day basis, your brand may be filled with an wide array of products, events and promotions and you want everything to be on your social platforms – all at once. Well, think again. Look back at your strategy, think about your objectives and target audience. In the end, you don’t want your page to look like another bazaar in a flea market. So don’t rush to have everything dumped into your social platforms. Decide what, when and where.

The reason I have entitled this blog post “Pace your social media strategy” is because I have observed some “spamming” from some brands. Not literally but rightfully so in the eyes of the consumer. Pacing is VERY important and the steps above will help you understand how you should pace your strategy. Let me cite you an example…

Brand A wants to build a sustainable community on Facebook, and to use it as a platform to promote the USPs of their premium product targeted at 24 – 35. However, aside from that they also have many overlapping campaigns with different objectives running at the same time. So while they are sharing resources and lifestyle topics around the primary product focus, they are also flooding the page with a brand campaign, a sponsorship campaign, as well as a hip event targeted at the youths between 14 to 21. As the bulk of the work is aplenty, there are multiple agencies handling the different pieces and posting at their own pace. Unfortunately, it caused an influx of Youtube video posts on the event over a weekend that takes the fan page by storm without warning or build-up towards it. And on the conversational side, another agency is trying to talk about World Cup. And in between those event posts, there’s news about their sponsorship efforts which targets at a very different group of users.

Now think… if you are a fan on the page. Would you continue to “like” it?

A question may be appearing in your mind at this time, “But then… shouldn’t a sustainable strategy means that I do not separate my brand into multiple pages?” Yes indeed that should be the ideal. Then, how can you make the efforts seem more receptive to your audience while you are trying to promote different things at the same time?

  1. Objective > Strategy > Plan: You may not be able to do everything on the same platform. But really, WHAT are you trying to do? Build fans? Build brand equity? Build product awareness? What is it? With that mind, you will know how to pick and choose from the bulk of your content.
  2. Pace it, time it: Different group of audience may have different usage behaviours. By posting relevant content to relevant audience at a time where you can maximise eyeballs, you are likely to see better success for your efforts. At the same time, analyse the trends of your fans consumption for content, do you start losing them when you post more often or less often? What is their tipping point?
  3. What they like and not what you like: Many of us can be disillusioned in the type of content that will appeal to our community. Listen and observe when they tend to reply more often, what kind of content gets better traction. Test waters and ask for feedback.

It is common for brands to start flooding their fan pages with everything when the strategy is not clear. There is no direction on what the content should be building towards or where the end destination should be. There is also no way to plot a content strategy out of all the information on the table. My experience working with some clients are that many a times, they are more concerned with themselves than their target audience. They are concerned if they are posting it quick enough or accurately enough and not if their target audience are reading it or are interested to read it. And in this instance, the momentum is inconsistent which is likely to grow into a broadcasting platform for them to rave about themselves.

As the saying goes, more haste less speed. To create a sustainable community for long-term brand benefits, pause for a moment and think about where you are heading. Pace your footsteps as you would as you embark on a marathon, so that you can complete this long and tough race to reach the finishing line in victory.

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13 replies
  1. Walter says:

    I totally agree on you the importance of pacing oneself and reflecting upon the needs of one’s audience. Spam is a huge no-no and multiple updates in a day not only kills your audience’s interest, it will also kill you! One should also look at the long haul in sustaining one’s content, and alternating between online and offline activities to keep the tempo going.

    The second thing is that not every solution is digital. There are many products and services which lend themselves better to offline marketing and PR strategies. As it is, almost every Tom, Dick and Sally agency is jumping into the social media brandwagon – Facebook and Twitter are like virtual fishmarkets (huge ones)! To succeed, brands may want to embrace the strategy that less is more.

    Reply
  2. Belinda Ang says:

    Hey Walter, great to know you think likewise too! But much needs to be done before most companies will start thinking of it as an overarching strategy that cuts through different marketing verticals and then assess suitable platforms that supports a sustainable plan.

    I applaud your final statement – LESS IS MORE!

    Reply
  3. Anol says:

    Absolutely agree Belinda! Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon without much thought process or framework. All I hear from companies – ‘What should we do in Facebook/ LinkedIn/ Twitter/ Blog?’, rather than asking first ‘Why should we be in Facebook etc…’

    Also – the race to be everywhere is a killer. Social media takes time and resources. Stretching yourself thin is not a sustainable tactic for most of the companies. That’s why we find company blogs which are not updated in last 6 months, dry twitter streams and LinkedIn groups without any activities.

    Another big missing link I see in organizations – strategy to harness the informal networks. Most likely your people are already in various social networks and connected informally with your clients and prospects. Why not tap on that opportunity and provide them the relevant context, engagement opportunities and (if possible) relevant content to ignite a conversation!

    Reply
    • Belinda Ang says:

      Indeed! Power of the community comes first from within. Like it or not, employees are ambassadors of your brand and they can make or break it with the things they say and do online. However, that calls for a very top-level intervention and most companies aren’t ready to dive into something like that, which potentially changes the business and internal communications framework.

      Reply
  4. Isman Tanuri says:

    Hey Belinda, I have this page opened for a while and finally managed to fully digest it a 2nd time. So here’s that comment I promised you :)

    Without a doubt, you have distilled and outlined the game plan for a ‘social media strategy’ (I personally prefer to refer to it as ‘engagement strategy’. If daily ‘email-casting’ works for close engagement [especially in organisations that have perverse views of social media], then that will be the weapon of choice.) But you’re certainly spot on, the right objectives, relevancy in content and timing will certainly go a long way in cultivating and building the valuable audience.

    However, just as Anol mentioned, that big internal gap within organisations in understanding open social communication are a hindrance to effective outwardly social media engagement. Especially in B2B, where the audience can be decidedly muted (again culture is culprit), the assistance of employee brand ambassadors can be a tremendous boost to an objective or campaign.

    I have personally experienced this myself. Zero reaction from target audience on distribution. But put that same content into the hands of customer service managers and onto their personal Facebook profiles, the audience went wild! And I am very certain they have clients on their FB profiles. These are the long-term assets (aka communication vehicles) that organisations fail to recognise.

    Sorry, what’s the topic again? :P

    Reply
    • Belinda Ang says:

      Yay, thanks for writing Isman!

      Well, that would be content for a different post called “The top-down social media approach” or “Make social media a company culture” or something. Haha! Well, spot on Isman. That is ideal situation! But the grappling fear that many of these organisations have just fail to take that step (for now). It will take a lot of us to cultivate and change the bigger business environment and culture over time. In my course of work, as much as clients understand the importance and need to make social media a top-down approach and as part of their business strategy, there are many source for concerns especially when big organisations have plenty of bureaucracies to overcome. The least they can do is not to spam their consumers and use social media as a loud hailer. Even if they don’t know how to talk to people yet, at least stop shouting at them.

      Reply
  5. Isman Tanuri says:

    Nice “bring-back”, Belinda!

    Absolutely! Here’s where our arguments complement each other. A ‘social media-aware’ organisation (both internally and externally) will most likely be wary of saying too much or too many times. The idea is that such organisation will be much more coordinated and synchronised in their communication, everyone’s on the same page and know what’s gone out and what’s been previously said. And definitely know when to stop. (I love the Old Spice campaign cos they really know how to go out on a high.)

    I say the social media manager will be a most welcomed role in such organisation! A gatekeeper of sorts.

    Quick suggestion, Belinda, you might want to consider a plugin for your Comments that provide notification for new replies? Good thing I decided to check back :)

    Reply
  6. Johannes Lenz says:

    Hi Belinda,

    now the promised comment ;)

    I read your article and agree with you. Especially your comparison with forrest/strategy & trees/plan. Ist easy but everybody understands it. Sometime you need the easy way for explanation.

    Of course you have to have your target group/audience in mind when you build up a strategy and afterwords the execution of it. I Like the 3 “W” (what, when, where).

    I can see it in my own profiles that not every news/content is interesting to my contacts on twitter, facebook, linkedin and so on… so you have to differ and to ask yourself the 3 “W`s”.

    At least as a brand it depends on your content-mix and on your behaviour in the social web. with “behaviour” I mean especially the personal behaviour of the employees who will be responsible as brand ambassadors.

    As consumer you will know realatively fast if there is somebody who says what he`s doing! Same for the Company/Brand whatever …

    Greetings

    Johannes

    Reply
  7. Belinda Ang says:

    Hey Johannes

    Thank you very much for sharing your comment. Well, you are definitely right in the frontline together with Isman and Anol here, who believes as deeply that real reputation building starts from within the company. Which is something that is currently very challenging to convince brands to embrace. Most companies are very fearful to ease control. And they want to have every single statement that goes out from within the company to be the exact and accurate message right to the detail of the punctuation marks. It will certainly take a long time for companies to be less up-tight and set policies and guidelines that encourage this movement.

    I agree with you that consumers are very smart nowadays. They will know it relatively fast.

    Hope to get your comments more frequently, Johannes!

    Cheers!
    Belinda

    Reply
  8. Catie Ragusa says:

    Hey Belinda, great post (apparently I’m a few years late on reading it)!

    How would you suggest planning the pace of the posts? You said watch your audiences, but what if they clash?

    What’s the best way to avoid over-posting and under-posting?

    Thanks for all the great information!

    Reply
  9. Belinda Ang says:

    Hi Catie, would you be able to expand further on what you mean by the audience clash?

    Don’t always expect infinite acceleration in the interactivity and interest of community. Allow some decline to achieve higher peaks.

    Reply
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