The popularity of Social Media Marketing has increased tremendously. It has become a vital element in Online Marketing. Unfortunately companies are often left with no indication where to start and how to improve their social strategy. Trying to narrow the gap between online marketeers and corporations I’ve asked several Social Experts to what they find important and to rate each element accordingly. Together with the feedback I’ve turned the information into The Social Ranking Factors. It’s a top 20 ranking of the most essential elements in a Social Media campaign.
In September I started my research at Online Marketing company, Traffic4u. Together with my colleagues we tried to list the most essential elements in a social strategy and have them ranked by Social Experts. The ranking should sound familiar as it originated here at SEOmoz’s with the famous SEO Ranking Factors. We thought this approach would be interesting to apply to Social Media so that the results can serve as a guideline for corporations and marketeers. The final result, substantiated with several case studies and tips, ended up being a great reference for Social Media entrepreneurs.
#1 Monitor your target group in social networks [97.8%]
We immediately noticed a how almost everyone ranked Social Monitoring as top priority in a marketing strategy. The uncontested number one won both in consensus and importance, showing how important it is to actually listen. Social Media can be used to recover valuable data and offers new insights in the brand image of your audience. Kellogg’s used this element to its advantage and started analyzing patterns in social conversations to sketch the online brand image of Kellogg’s. These metrics eventually formed the foundation of the company’s engagement strategy.
#2 Study the use and ethics of a social network [93.3%]“
My competition is going social, what do I do!?” Next a company opens up a Twitter or Facebook account without being able to get direct results. In search of any ROI they try a few things making the brand look worse than when they started. Obviously this is a worst case scenario but unfortunately it happens quite often. Studying the use and ethics of a network is crucial before starting your social activities. Case studies and examples are great tools in discovering the use of a network. A great example of a corporation that did not properly study a social network’s ethics, is Wal-Mart. The company failed to launch an effective social campaign by restricting the comments and feedback section on its Facebook page, hurting their online brand image.
#3 Connect on a personal level [91.1%]
Social networks are based on friendships and trust. They are very transparent which automatically makes it more personal. When communicating through Social Media it’s therefore most obvious to take a personal approach. Try creating a Social Voice with personal characteristics. Chris Koch made a list of essential characteristics for a Social Voice.
#4 Link to the corporate website [91.1%]
Which seems like a pretty simple statement to be listing here it’s often forgotten as an essential part in your social identity. Apart from any SEO benefits these links can bring, they are a valuable confirmation to your identity. You can call it a trust-factors. It connects you with your brand while at the same time your audience has an easy access to your background information.
#5 Link to your Social Networks [88.9%]
Linking back to your social networks from your corporate website is an obvious follow-up for factor #4. By showing your visitors you are also active in Social Media they will be more likely to try and connect with you on their personal networks. Visual elements like social buttons have become a website standard. Jeremiah Owyang created an excellent roadmap slideshow to visualize the steps in integrating social media on the corporate website. It goes a few steps beyond Social Media buttons and creative new insights.
#6 Make it easy to share your content [84.4%]
The basic goal in Social Branding is to spread a positive brand image through Social Media. This means we want your audience to share your content on their networks and spread the brand name. Apart from the content quality it´s essential to offer your visitors the ability to share your content. The ease in sharing will stimulate an individual to do so. SEOmoz published a great Whiteboard Friday where Rand is explaining the optimization of share-ability of your content.
#7 Make your content news-/shareworthy [82.2%]
Apart from the ability to share your content, the actual quality of your content has to shareable too. It has to contain news value, be appealing to the reader or might be of any interest to the reader’s social circle. Many companies use social media as an additional way to spread discounts and spam social timelines. These cases offer great examples on how self-destructive a social campaign can be.
#8 Be responsive to related news and articles [82.2%]
Social Media is a leading platform where news is shaped and the first discussions take place. Combined with our top 3 ranking factors, this is an ideal opportunity to anticipate on brand related news and articles. Pepsi’s brand director explained how Twitter gave Pepsi the opportunity for fast and responsive communication. They were able to quickly react to something and at the same time offer a platform for the discussion.
#9 Focus on multiple Social Networks [82.0%]
Each network focuses on different people and different sorts of content. Defining which networks suit your social activities the best is essential in a social strategy. Identify your target group and together with your key social activities you can discover which networks will suit your strategy the best.Twitter and Facebook aren’t enough.
#10 Utilize all the possibilities a social network offers [80.0%]
A social platform offers unique features to expand social activities. Most brands forget to apply additional features in their strategy. A good example is the use of Twitter which offers more functionality apart from publishing tweets. Start following your loyal customers and retweet their related tweets to improve your relationship. Creating twitter lists can be a great marketing tool to create trust and authority with your audience. Cindy King created an effective tutorial how to market your business with Twitter lists.
Apart from the ranking I also assigned each factor to a specific characteristic. The results are a bit subjective but they do offer an interesting confirmation on earlier assumptions. The results show that Participation is the most valuable characteristic in a Social strategy. It’s followed by Interaction (#2) and Content (#3), which brings us to a representative top 3 characteristics in Social Marketing.
More information on the research can be found at: www.socialrankingfactors.com
Please do let us know what you find important in a Social strategy, we can then use your feedback to shape the ranking factors v2.0!