How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

social media book reviewsCanadian grocery store chain Loblaws knew they had a great BBQ sauce based on customer comments. But they didn’t understand why sales were so dismal.

Until they invited customers to post product reviews on their website. Only then did they discover the problem was the bottle – it was too tall to fit in refrigerator doors! They redesigned the bottle and their sales immediately increased.

That’s user-generated content directly leading to an increase in sales. That’s the power of social media marketing.

Are you still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to social media marketing because you know you can’t control the conversations about your company, your products and your services? And because you have no idea how to respond to negative comments?

Social Media Marketing by Liana EvansGive up control and drop the ego!” says Liana Evans in her book, Social Media Marketing: Strategies for Engaging in Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media. Compared to traditional marketing, “social media is a totally different ballgame. The people in these social media communities talk about you whenever they want, however they want, and to whomever they want. The conversation goes on with or without you!”

So wouldn’t it be better to actively participate in these conversations? “Consumer-generated content is having wide-ranging effects on both the perception of a company and whether a purchase is eventually made,” writes Evans. “Can your company afford not to participate in the conversation?”

She uses comic books as an example of the difference between traditional Internet advertising and social media marketing. Comic book collectors all over the world began communicating with each other online in the 1990s. They used online bulletin board systems (BBS) and CompuServe and AOL forums.

But when comic book publishers jumped into online advertising, they just created banner ads and other flashy promotional ads. Even if they placed these ads in forums, forum members just ignored them.

Why didn’t the comic book publishers just ask an employee to join the forums and start responding to other members’ messages? “This would have garnered a lot more engagement and interest than a banner advertisement ever could have,” writes Evans.

This Is Not Your Father’s Marketing

And that’s the difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing. In traditional marketing, you throw out a message where it will be seen by millions of people who couldn’t care less.

In social media marketing, you find the people who are already talking about your message and join the conversation. It’s really that simple and that complicated.

It’s complicated because you have to know your audience so well that you know exactly what social media platforms they use regularly. Is it Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? Digg?

Why create a Facebook fan page if your audience never uses Facebook? Why open a Twitter account if they never use Twitter?

As Evans repeatedly emphasizes in her book, understanding your audience is the first step in creating a social media marketing strategy. Here are the rest of the steps:

#2: Define your goals.

#3: Choose your metrics.

#4: Open accounts on the platforms your audience uses.

#5: Listen to what your audience is saying on those platforms.

#6: Respond to their concerns.

#7: Provide content that they value.

#8: Measure the results.

#9: Repeat steps 1 through 8.

Yes, I said “repeat steps 1 through 8.” Because just as real-life communities change, social media communities also change. “If you had included Twitter in your marketing plan in early 2007,” writes Evans, “you would have been very disappointed by its results.”

Follow Your Audience Wherever They Go

Suppose one of the top “influencers” in one online community leaves and joins another community? And what if your audience follows that person? You’d better be prepared to join a brand new platform.

So you must constantly monitor your audience’s participation in various social media communities and learn how to use new platforms.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but as Zappos and Southwest Airlines have discovered, creating and managing customer relationships using social media can be very profitable. Even Dell overcame its “Dell Hell” reputation using social media.

And Evans strongly recommends that you do all this work in-house. Don’t outsource anything, including blogging and tweeting. “Social media sites can propel a person’s experience with your company across the globe within seconds. Not being active in these social media sites can be detrimental to your company, whether that customer’s experience was good or bad,” she writes.

She even includes tips on how to select a company that develops social media marketing campaigns for its clients.  Ask all prospective consultants the following questions:

  • Will you create our website entirely in Flash? (Flash isn’t search-engine friendly.)
  • Do you focus on one or two strategies to the exclusion of all others?
  • Do you define success as the number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers?
  • Do you recommend following a “laundry list” of tactics because everyone else is using them?

If their answer to all those questions is “Yes,” keep looking.

This book will NOT tell you how to create a Facebook fan page, customize your Twitter background or upload a video to YouTube. It doesn’t tell you how to measure anything, how to use Google Analytics or how to SEO your website.

Instead, Evans takes you by the hand and leads you through the entire process of creating and managing a social media marketing campaign. No tech stuff, just solid, practical advice from a professional who “has been active full-time in search marketing and social media since 1999,” according to her bio on the back cover.

The book has 45 chapters, all of which are fewer than 10 pages long. And every chapter has several informative subheadings, so you can quickly zero in on the information you need when you need to know it. Or you can read the entire book from front to back.

If you already know a lot about social media marketing, this book isn’t for you. It’s for those of you who are still standing by the social media pool, wondering if you should jump in.

Come on in, the water’s fine!

Social Media Examiner gives this book a 4-star rating.

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About the Author, Ruth M. Shipley

Ruth M. Shipley is a freelance researcher and writer who loves to write a good story. Because that’s what most people love to read! See her Social Media Examiner page for more stories about social media books. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Ruth..Evans seems like an smart person who knows the entire world of social media. Nice to have read your post.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.deseohair.com/ Ximena de la Serna

    It seems like an interesting book. Will look for it today and see if it’s worth purchasing :)

    Thanks for such a good review!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hannush Andrew Hannush

    Nice, in one post, you basically recreated an outline for anyone to follow in creating a Social Media Strategy. While this is high level, it is nice to see it in a concise presentation. I’m sure the book will do a nice job of detailing this important information.

    I feel like, now that the buzz and frenzy of social media is starting to die down, the need for strategy, metrics, and steady maintenance will become critical and that’s where the winners will be determined.

    Thanks for a great post.

  • http://aremorch.com/ Are Morch

    Hi Ruth.

    Excellent review here.

    This book seems to cover some essential Social Media Strategy basics. I have several books on Social Media Marketing. Some go more in debt and other cover the general overview.

    Beside asking questions, does this book also provide some good action steps?

    Have to check the book stores here for this book.

    Cheers.. Are

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    These are some great points. I think one reason why people hesitate to participate in social media is because they are afraid to hear the truth or not sure how they would respond to the truth when it is less than positive. Loblaws hit the nail on the head when they asked their consumers and then did something with the data they collected.

    If your organization is not prepared to act on the data you collect through social media channels, it’s probably wise to stay out. Asking for input and then ignoring it will only make consumers more frustrated then before.

    Ask. Respond. Act.

  • drburt

    Great Post. You pretty much covered the entire book in this post. Will order it from Amazon today. Thanks

  • http://www.mitash.com/blog/ Raj – SEO Australia

    Marketing through social networking sites is a great way to increase business visibility online. And you should remember that, brand reputation you create online directly reflects your business. But this is many times forgotten by people who manage their business activities. Because they don’t treat/focus as much as they do it in a traditional marketing. So keep it in mind whenever you update/tweet a message about your business as if you are in-front of your prospective costumers.

  • http://www.mazakaro.com Rahul

    i consider it very smart to talk about this actually ! the book mus be talkign about great points
    i do find many remarks very important !!!
    Great post :)

  • George

    Re: #4: Open accounts on the platforms your audience uses. ~ Does it give any exceptional insights regarding finding out which platforms your audience uses? Or do you just have to survey/talk to your customers? Just curious. Thanks.

  • MakBirch

    Have read Li’s book, and it is fabulous–glad to see it mentioned here! Nice explanation of her content as well, Ruth!

  • http://www.doughayassoc.com Doug Hay

    Good post. Her explaination of what social media is was very concise and easy to understand.

  • http://twitter.com/rhenium333 Hilary St Jonn

    I have this book now, I’m half way through it and it is great. Definitely recommend it – a great over view on what you should consider in a social media marketing strategy.

  • http://www.thomgourley.com/ Thom Gourley

    Great post! Lots to chew on here…

    Best,
    Thom

  • http://CherylVanOrnum.com Cheryl VanOrnum

    Great review of the book! As business owners, learning how properly utilize social media can be a daunting task especially with all of the information overload. There is certainly a method to correctly implement and measure…..and then everything changes :) .
    Thanks for sharing this review!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PW2Z3JWKSHAVBBJXSCBS2ZSBPU Rene

    Great review. Particularly like the point about locating your audience and zooming in on the most appropriate platforms. It isn’t always as simple as being on Facebook, especially for industrial and b2b marketers.

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    hi Ruth, just read this and shared it. I love your style (writing) and the content of this post. After reading it, two questions popped up in my mind:

    1. Who owns your Facebook Fan Page? I guess companies have to accept that they do not own it. Maybe a topic for a post?

    2. What social media platform should you, we, I use to share this post? As we all know, sharing has an impact on our personal branding. Maybe another topic for a post?

    And, finally, a small detail. Check out the Liana Evans link in your post. It did not lead me to a useable page.

    Thanks for sharing my comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raquel-Meylan/100000013053021 Raquel Meylan

    Ruth,
    Very useful article, thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raquel-Meylan/100000013053021 Raquel Meylan

    Hi Juan, The link took me to Liana’s book on Amazon.com

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    hi Raquel, thank you. You are right about the link attached to the title of the book. The previous link, the one attached to Liana’s name in the post, does not work. But, again, may be a minor point and thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/QuieroTravel Pamela Acosta

    I want this book! How can I get it if I live in Mexico?

  • Andrea Reindl

    Great book review. Another way to think of this concept is kind of like Search Engine Optimization. Now we as consumers and the general public have the ability to self select what kind of media we want in our lives. Finding the conversations that interest us and joining them is the most important thing we can do as business owners. Always keeping in mind that behind each post and action is a real person who just wants connection. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://budurl.com/ruthbradford Ruth Bradford

    Learned a lot. Great article.

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  • http://www.phoenixonesales.com/marketing_solutions/index.html Bill Simmel

    Exceptional info to consider for any marketer, the book provides additional valuable insight into all aspects of social media marketing. I highly recommend putting in on your nook / kindle / ipad, or even your book shelf.

  • Pingback: Social Media: Ask. Respond. Act. | Mike McCready

  • http://twitter.com/SophieDelios Sophie Delios

    Hi Ruth, great post! I m part of those who haven’t taken the big step yet and this book sounds like just what I need.
    Thanks Sophie

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  • Larry Lourcey

    Great article. Sounds like the book really helps you map out a social media plan of attack. May have to add this one to the library soon…

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  • ijenti

    Great article! This article is very important for people to understand that finding their target audience is extremely important when planning a marketing strategy. This is a huge problem I see with businesses they usually have a set group they want to target but they don’t break it down into details on demographic, interest and hobbies based. Once they understand this concept the rest is history then they can create valuable and useful content their audience.

    ~Madeline







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