By Iain MacMillan, RMM and the IAB Social Media Council education sub-group
When considering how to make best use of social technologies and media, it can be hard to know where to start. Making an organisation’s interactions amongst its employees, customers, enthusiasts or prospects more social can have numerous benefits -and can be achieved in many and various ways.
With this in mind, we believe a broad framework of social media activity types would be most beneficial – not only for those who lack experience in this area, but also for people for whom a simple check-list might be a useful aide memoire.
We’ve devised a list of six ways in which brands can use social technologies to impact upon a business’ marketing function.
As with all things social:
- There are areas of overlap across these types of activity
- Brands will not necessarily need to indulge in all of these to achieve their objectives
- No chronology should be implied with this list. An organisation should listen, respond, engage and enlist its audience, as is appropriate.
However, we hope such a framework might have the following uses:
- It will help explain the relevance of social media to organisations whose current mindset is dominated by either curiosity, fear – or both
- It will help explain what types of agencies and clients (with what types of interests) should participate in social media activities (after all, social media is a broad church of activities)
- It will provide a generic check-list for social media ‘starters’ who want to know what broad areas of social media activity might be of interest to their organisations
- It will provide a framework off which we can hang basic explanations of the typical objectives, metrics, issues and best practice case studies for each activity type
We have employed an analogy – that of throwing a party – to not only help us explain these six types of social media activity, but also to provide a little colour to some otherwise quite dry definitions. So here are our proposed six areas of social media activity:
Research and strategy development
Aka. Party planning: working out the best possible party you could hold for your guests
Promotional content or advertising in social spaces
Aka. Promoting your party, making sure as many people as possible know about it and what will be there
Relationship development with key online influencers and online community leaders
Aka. Making sure all the cool kids will be coming, and telling their friends about how good it will be
Facilitating social interaction amongst customers (providing tools, platforms to meet objectives)
Aka. Catering the party, arranging the venue, ‘optimising’ the party space to encourage interaction
Direct engagement between employees and prospects/customers
Aka. Being available to talk to guests, solve problems, make them feel welcome
Measurement and tracking
Aka. Asking people what they thought of the party, getting feedback, helping to shape the next party
We don’t expect this framework to please all of the people all of the time – when does that ever happen, particularly when it comes to social media. Instead, its goal is to create some shared language and references amongst agency practitioners, those just starting out in social media and the many curious organisations out there.