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Social Media Strategy

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Social Media 

Wondering how social media can work for your company? Facebook is the logical first choice if you are a B2C business. With a billion+ users, your customers are already there. But what about LinkedIn? Should you care? Yes, especially if you are a B2B business. In practice, you will likely have a presence on both platforms, but one will dominate your marketing strategy depending upon your business objectives.

In to this social mix you have to stir in a cup of Twitter, a helping of Blog and a dash of that new spice called Pinterest.
 
With all these moving parts its good practice to develop a social model (your social eco-system) that reflects and supports your company's goals and customer demographics.

What is a Social Eco-System?

So, let's break it down a bit. The four major high-level components of your Social Eco-System are:

  • Social Network Platforms (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Social Applications (e.g., Smartphone, Facebook Apps)
  • Social Media Content Networks (e.g., Digg, Reddit)
  • Your Company Properties (e.g., Corporate Website, Blogs, Landing Pages)

When thinking strategically about your social eco-system, it will be useful to look at all the interrelated components that are available to you. Understanding your eco-system will provide many more opportunities to generate traffic, leads, content and links back to your company. 

 
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Social Requirements, Goals and Strategy 

Certainly you want to make a list of goal for your social community. Start by asking:

  • What are the social requirements for the community? What are the major features and tools?
  • What do you want your customers to do while engaged? 
  • What is the demographic profile of your customer base? 
  • Is the community in-facing (for employees), out-facing (for customers) or both?
What are the goals for the community, what do you want to accomplish?
  • Is it to offer customer support, provide consumer education?webassets/CallMeNowButtonRED2.jpg
  • Enable user networking and community support, or identifying expertise for the community?
  • To generate new business?
  • Enable product information sharing, or collaborate on new product definition?
  • Increase branding and awareness?
  • Listen to what customers are saying about your products and company?
What is your social media tools, content and communications strategy?
  • Certainly Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook interactions are at the top of the list, but will you need other tools such as wikis, blogs, RSS, podcast, forums and chat? 
  • What topical content needs to be developed for each of these vehicles? 
  • Will the community require premium content, or will it be all user-generated content?
You must also determine what the most appropriate way to communicate with your customers. The options include:
  • Email broadcasting
  • Conferencing
  • Special events (sponsored)
  • IM and webinars
  • Contests
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Traffic Generation

What is your customer acquisition and user requirements strategy?
  • Do you support the Yahoo, Google and OpenID single sign-on formats?
  • Do you enable the Facebook Connect API's so users can sign in to your site using their Facebook login user-name and password? 
  • Do you have a SEO and linking strategy to help generate organic search engine traffic?

Privacy

  • Do you allow the full range of information creation functionality such as the profile generation found in Facebook and LinkedIn? 
  • Can individuals permanently remove their profiles from the community? 
  • What about privacy and ownership issues – who owns the content that is generated?
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Platform Selection (Technology)

This is optional. You can choose to develop your community in the Twitter-Facebook-LinkedIn eco-system - this will work fine for most organizations. However, if you feel that the existing platforms do not give enough control and functionality, you have the option to choose your own private social networking platform.
 
If this is the route you want to go, you then should focus on selecting the best social networking software platform once you have defined your requirements.
 
The selection of a technology platform should always be done last. Why? For example, the functionality for internal platforms differs from external facing platforms i.e.  collaboration modules are commonly found in in-facing platforms, and not in out-facing platforms.

Other technical questions you should consider:
  • Do you bring the software in house, or do you have the community hosted by a third party? 
  • Are open source platforms an option? 
  • Do you have the technical and editorial resources to deploy and manage the platform. 
  • The platform's individual modules need to be technically evaluated. 
  • Will the content management system generate search engine friendly content? 
  • Are the search tools robust enough to locate all the content in the community archive? 
  • What are your community moderation requirements, and do the moderation tools support your needs?
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Next Steps

Beyond those mentioned above, there are many more issues to be dealt with when planning, developing and launching a new social network. If you are considering deploying a new social community, I can help you with the requirements from, strategy, software selection to actual deployment of your new social community platform.

Give me a call if you would like to talk about your social networking needs.
Mark Sprague

781-862-3126 P
339-223-0500 C
 
Send Me Information
 
Send me an email at: Mark@MSprague.com and I'll send you a free ten page report that deals with Mobile SEO and Mobile Development issues.
  
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