Do You Have a Long-Term Social Media Marketing Plan?

Most marketers know that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are crucial to engaging their audience and building their brand – but as it turns out, only a third of them have a long term plan of action to reap the benefits of their promotions.

To help shed more light on the issue, a Forrester Research study commissioned by Facebook from December 2011 asked 101 marketing executives about their social media marketing campaigns.  76% of respondents remarked that social networks are key to building brands. 71% believed social media could help them gain a competitive advantage.

But only 33% were incorporating social media into other aspects of their business for the long term.  That includes facets such as:

  • Customer service
  • Cohesive promotions across departments (the brunt of social media shouldn’t be pinned solely on the marketing department’s shoulders!)
  • User reviews and feedback

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how some social media campaigns have created entirely new spinoffs that help reinforce the brand’s message over the long term – and what you can learn from their success.

Colgate Smile

Colgate Smile

The Smile Campaign promotes user-submitted photos to help reinforce positive branding

As a result of last summer’s Colgate’s “Smile” campaign, which used user-submitted snapshots of smiles and promoted them in stores, markets and on billboards, Colgate was able to seamlessly weave its online and offline marketing through social media. In addition, Colgate shares tips and asks for inspirational stories that make you smile.  According to the results, over a third of the audience had positive associations about the brand and the community and over a quarter associated words like “fun”, “cool” and “healthy” with Colgate.

Today they’ve built upon the Smiles campaign by focusing on ways to “Keep the World Smiling” such as this campaign from the U.K.

Keep Britain Smiling

Colgate’s “Keep the World Smiling” builds upon the previous success of its “Smile” campaign

My Starbucks Idea

My Starbucks Idea

An example of a suggestion from My Starbucks Idea being used by the company

As one of the oldest examples of tying social media and crowdsourcing together, My Starbucks Idea has received well over 100,000 ideas since its launch and is showing no signs of slowing down. But the core concept isn’t just about getting customer feedback and putting it to good use – there’s also a competitive element to the site which uses voting and leaderboards to showcase the top ideas.

So far, My Starbucks Idea has put well over 100 idea submissions to use, and many more are in the testing phases.

The Healthy Choice Progressive Coupon

healthy choice coupon

The coupon that just keeps growing…and growing… and growing

Healthy Choice’s Progressive Facebook Coupon was so successful last summer, that they’ve re-introduced it since then.  The coupon started at 75 cents off, but as the page got more likes and shares, it built up all the way to a Buy Three Get One Free coupon.  Not only is this a stellar way to increase the number of Likes on a page, but it’s also a great opportunity to get people involved, talking about and trying the brand.

The company behind this, and many other household brands, ConAgra foods, has actually benefitted the long-term planning of several social marketing campaigns for products ranging from Slim Jims to Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn.

Watch this presentation from Genevieve Mazzeo, ConAgra’s PR and Social Media manager on how they’ve used social media to help build legions of fans that are loyal and loving it:

When Social Media Plans Go Wrong

Graco Stroller

Graco turned a recall fiasco into a moment of triumph

All of these examples of long-term social media plans that bud into thriving communities and discussions aren’t always sunshine and roses.  When faced with a product recall, Graco, the company behind the 1.5 million baby stroller recall back in 2010, used its social media tools to listen to what customers were saying, and took steps to be proactive about providing recall information.

Since then, they’ve taken steps to get parents more involved in social media, through their Heart to Heart blog and social presence.  By recruiting product testers (“Ambassadors”) through their Facebook page, Graco aims to keep parents informed about the latest advances in strollers and other must-haves for the new arrival.

Action Steps for Long-Term Social Media Success

  • Put your fans first – Give them a voice, and a place, in your community. Discuss the things they want to talk about, rather than pushing your product in a top-down “broadcast” format.
  • Be flexible about what works – Some ideas may seem great on paper, but not so great in execution.  Finding out what works for you over the long term is very much a trial and error process – and just like increasing conversion rates – it pays to test, test, test!
  • Create a brand voice – With potentially many different people on your social media team, you want to ensure that your brand’s voice is consistent across different social media, as well as offline and online channels.  Some companies find that hiring one person internally to be their voice ultimately backfires when that person leaves or gets promoted – and someone else has to fill their shoes with a tone all their own.
  • Measure what matters – Social media plans – from short-term campaigns to long-term brand awareness shouldn’t be looked at as self-contained promotions away from the rest of your marketing.  Look for ways to take the analytics you’re getting from social media, and measure them in relation to the big picture of your overall goals.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps website owners increase website conversions through search engine copywriting, blog consulting and website reviews. Download a free conversion checklist and web content tune-up at iElectrify.com

  1. I have been thinking about putting together a long-term social media plan for a while but just never got around too it. After reading this post I think I am ready to schedule some time to hammer it out so that I can be more consistent with my efforts. ~Thanks for this post.

  2. i am so much excited after reading your blog. your blog is very much innovative and much helpful. i will use it in future. thanks for the efforts to make this ! must admit that you are one of the coolest bloggers i ever saw.

  3. I do consider all the ideas you have introduced to your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very quick for beginners. May just you please prolong them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  4. this sounds great smiling can really make a difference :) you must be polite and helpful to others only then they will start to acknowledge you..!

  5. Thanks for the post – some great ideas. The My Starbucks example is particularly interesting as a way to generate ideas and engagement. I’d be interested to know how to apply these social media tactics to a service rather than a product. Anyone have any suggestions?

  6. Online social marketing is so crucial these days. It is worth it to do your research, find out how present your brand/industry is already and JUMP IN! Our company has an entire online team that consists of social media specialists and we’re still learning every day! We are transitioning our clients to social media one at a time, and the results are there.
    http://www.brickworks.co

  7. Just Enjoyed your post.Keep it up.

  8. Thanks for the efforts to make this !!! .your blog is very much innovative and much helpful. i will use it in future. must admit that you are one of the coolest bloggers i ever saw.

  9. Thanks for this insightful post. the need to be concerted in our social media efforts is critival to onilne success. So many tools but without sstrategy and consistency, we wont go far

  10. keep it up nice post thanks for sharing this post with us.

  11. Excellent post man!
    Thanks for sharing shuch a wonderful post with us,keep it up.

  12. Great Post! This is why growth hypotheses are so important. Each of these started as an assumption for something that worked.

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