Online social networking and social media marketing are the hottest new tools in the business promotion arsenal. These tools are not only extremely effective for "growing the brand," but for advancing the reputations and careers of executives, owners, and managers alike. Customers love the ability to interact directly and personally with these businesspeople. Paradoxically, the singular most common complaint of online social networking and social media marketing is the significant demand of time.
So how does an executive or entrepreneur reap the benefits of online social networking and social media marketing for the minimal investment of time? Smart businesspeople turn to S.A.M., the three-part process for optimizing the efficiency of the online social networking and social media marketing process.
The key to successfully reaping the benefits of online social networking and social media marketing is to provide genuine interaction for customers. This means the contact person must be the actual author of all communications; however, this is only one-step in the process of conducting a successful online social networking campaign. It is basic business economics, delegating duties to free the time of key individuals in the organization produces a larger return on the time investment. S.A.M. includes Strategic Planning, Authorship, and Mechanics.
An online social networking/social media marketing campaign must be a part of the overall public relations, marketing and advertising plan for the business. Entrepreneurs and executives often have review and oversight of public relations, marketing, and advertising plans but seldom if ever micromanage the development and deployment of these plans.
Determining where best to conduct online social networking and social media marketing efforts requires 20 to 30 percent of the time spent each week on an optimal program. Delegating this aspect of the process to a consultant or other highly trained team member saves the executive significant time.
This is the part of the process that must be completely the original work and words of the business' contact person. Customers choosing to participate in online social networking with the management and owners of a business expect—even demand—that their interactions actually be with the executive.
Everyone in the online social networking industry took notice of the backlash against Britney Spears when it was discovered that ghostwriters wrote her social networking interactions. On the other hand, multiple celebrities have learned that contributing to their own blogs, Twitters, and social networking efforts creates fan loyalty.
Business people who author their own articles, blog entries, and speeches find that the time required is small compared to the favorable response received from audiences and customers. In most cases, authorship requires less than 10 percent of the time spent on online social networking and social media marketing each week.
The part of the process that takes the most time and causes the dread for executives considering an online social networking/social media marketing campaign is the part most easily delegated to an employee. The mechanics of posting blog entries, Twitters, and social network comments requires only a bank of authentically authored content from which to draw, and the knowledge of how to post that content to the appropriate sites.
The process of posting content combined with the process of locating new social media contacts accounts for fully half of all the time spent on online social networking and social media marketing efforts. When these duties are delegated to an employee operating in accordance with a well-defined strategic plan and clear ethical guidelines, the executive is freed for more gainful efforts.
Putting S.A.M. To Work
In practice, the S.A.M. process begins with strategic planning to determine what markets represent the most viable for a particular business and specific executive. Once these markets and online networking sites are identified, a detailed plan for participating on the various networks is formulated. This plan is re-evaluated monthly.
Once a plan is in place, the executive must author articles and other content items for distribution through the planned outlets. This is the sum total of the executive's time commitment, except to answer specific replies from social network members. With this minimal time commitment, the executive establishes rapport with the customer.
With the plan in place and the content authored, the daily mechanics of posting material to the networks and parsing compositions into microblogs is accomplished under the oversight of a consulting strategic planner.
Online social networking and social media marketing are an amazingly cost-effect means of spreading the brand message and building customer rapport and loyalty. The use of the S.A.M. process increases the ROI for this new form of info-communications.
Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez is founder of the consulting firm High Alert LLC. He is a speaker on the importance of social networking. As a consultant, Ramirez assists companies to align business continuity plans with personnel and customer behavior during adversity. Visit www.mauricearamirez.com for more information.