From the outside, it sometimes seems that social media marketing is a bit like boiling a big pot of water, dumping in all the half empty boxes of pasta in the pantry, and throwing it all on the fridge and seeing what sticks. We are pretty sure the thought of this would make our CEO faint, because she’s a cut-from-the-cloth technical project manager and thrives on Gantt charts, milestones, deliverables and deadlines. Besides, all those boring analytics and whizbang charts is how she can actually PROVE that the work actually works.
Experimentation is fun and fine in social media channels, but doesn’t make for good business. Every project should (and does) have some wiggle room to play, experiment, fail and learn, but on a whole clients hire us for results not ‘trying a bunch of stuff and hope that something sticks.’ It takes a lot of time and energy to boil an entire pot of water to cook several pounds of pasta. If all you are hoping for is a few pieces to stick (work), you will have a very hungry dinner table and a tremendous amount of waste. Our motto has long been ‘we like to eat’ so you can see how producing a lot of work for very little result could keep you hungry.
As far as social media marketing goes – this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve been down this road before with a different set of technology and communications needs every time. In the end, for us it all boils down to process and results, and the ability to reproduce the process and results. Solid business development, unique and creative digital marketing savvy, and in-the-trenches social media experience are all required to produce results. Being ‘shiny’ on Facebook is not.
Want a peek into how we tick? The philosophies and methodologies below – along with a combined experience of over 50 years in communications, technology, business development and management – is how we kick ass and take names on a daily basis.
Working SMARTER is our general philosophy for GSD (getting *stuff* done) and helps define the overall structure for our client projects. We feel that solid project skills are vital for everything from grand social media marketing endeavors to negotiating with our spouses about buying a new car.
- Specific : When you ask the universe (or your customers) for something, be very specific. “I want to sell more widgets” and “we need more customers” are not very specific. Part of what causes people to not be specific is the fear of failure. If you set out to sell 30% more widgets, and you only sell 29% more, have you failed? No, you just sold 1% less than you planned for. If you set out just to sell more, no number of more will ever seem to be enough.
- Measurable : If you don’t know exactly what you are working for, there isn’t anything to measure. By wanting to sell 30% widgets, you have concrete numbers to work towards. This of course makes our CEO happy, because you can chart +30% on a graph, but you can’t chart more. This is also the point in the process we point at when the bean-counters stream ‘ROI’ at us. Showing the numbers is easy, but in the end it’s up the business to determine how much a particular action is worth.
- Attainable : Here’s where reality sets in. Online, everything seems to be Facebook, unicorns and glitter and everything seems possible. If your company has traditionally experienced a 5% growth in sales per year, planning (and relying on) an increase of 45% is unrealistic and dangerous. We work hard to make sure that planned actions and results are humanly possible, financially feasible, and within the universal constrains of time and space.
- Relevant : Just because you can does not mean you should. Does what you propose have a direct link to an action, outcome, or process? Does it matter NOW? Does it have anything to do with business goals? These are questions we throw on the table quite often. Nowadays, everyone wants to be on Facebook, but when asked why, most times the answer comes down to ‘because it’s there’ or ‘because our competition is there.’
- Trackable / Timeboxed : Again, back to the idea that success, failure, and progress should be measurable, you need to show the path from A to B. Without seeing the steps, you have no way to find a fracture point or reproduce the results. Time is a very important dimension to our work as well. Selling 30% more widgets over the course of 30 years really isn’t helpful to a business, but selling 30% more right before your IPO – THAT matters.
- Evaluate : We don’t work in a system that delivers a product and walks away. We are not advertisers (no offense). Our medium is not a billboard that you can put up on the highway and forget about until it’s time to change it. Our ‘product’ is a living, breathing, feeling entity that needs to be nurtured and fed. In professional circles they call this process ‘evaluation.’
- Re-Evaluate : Sometimes when you are in a relationship it’s hard to take a step back and see if it’s working. It’s hard to change if you become too emotionally attached to something, social media marketing is no different. Because we are working in a medium that revolves around relationship building and community, it can be hard to cull out the efforts that don’t produce. At the same time, if when platforms and technology evolve, it can be seen as wasteful to change focus. The ability to stay flexible and be ahead of the curve is what we do.
Further proof we love checklists and bullet points – except for in slide decks, then it’s evil. Our GHOST process needs to be SMARTER. We like acronyms too.
- Goals : WHY. Everyone has to work towards something. Why work if you don’t know what you’re working for? Why is this needed for your business. Most times, this is the hardest idea to formulate.
- Holistic : DO. Here we have to make sure what we do, what everything DOES, serves a greater good, not just for our company, but our clients, their clients, and honestly, the whole Internet. Our team works very hard to make sure everything we do is fair and balanced, and produces no foreseeable harm. Our work has to provide positive benefit for everyone involved – from our client’s bottom line to our employees happiness and well-being.
- Objectives : WHAT. These are very specific actions that will reach a goal. If objectives are written SMARTER, results will follow. 5% of Facebook Fan Page user interaction per week to be obtained in 120 days. Specific tasks that can be measured and assigned worth. Trust us when we say this is hard.
- Strategy : HOW. So you want to get 5% of your Facebook Fan Page population to interact with you? HOW do you intend on doing that exactly? Release a video per week, run a contest, give out insider tips and tricks? This is where we bring the sauce…
- Tactics : WORK. This is where most people enter the social media game. Tactics are specific actionable and assigned tasks that you can put a check mark next to on a list. This is the actual WORK of the entire plan. It feels productive here, because this is where you DO things. As you can see, without Strategy, Objectives, Holistic, and Goals, no amount of work will produce results.
5C’s of Digital Engagement
Purple Stripe Productions has devised these five unique trigger points that we have researched over the past three years of working with clients that reflect the reasons people (both in professional and personal capacities) engage online. With a bazillion people interacting online, what exactly are they doing, why are they there, and what do they want out of it?
- Consume : One way conversion coming right up! On a very basic level, people online want to find and digest information and entertainment. Television, newspapers, books, movies, YouTube, blogs – for the most part these information carriers can be operated in a receive-only mode.
- Create : People come to the Internet – social networks and social media specifically – to create content and share ideas. Blogs, podcasts and web video are all extraordinarily easy to create. With today’s modern soapbox of the Internet, everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame.
- Collaborate : Coming together to create something greater than the sum of its parts is what fuels some people online to provide value through their joint work with others.
- Contribute : To be part of a village (or a digital tribe) you need to add value by contributing. Comments on a blog, Likes in Facebook,and ReTweets in Twitter are examples of how the general population online love to give their $0.02.
- Connect : Drawn together by common interests, professions, hobbies, history or location, platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook thrive on the basic need of people wanting to connect with other people. The need to connect drives everything a digital community does.
When you take a step back and look at our process at Purple Stripe, it may seem very easy to cut/paste our formula and get to work yourself. If that were the case, you should also be able to take the processes above and architect an amazing website, write a novel, build a house or even produce a movie. The point being, you still need an immense amount of talent and experience to pull it off. That is where we shine.