Web Strategy: Integrating a Social Media Strategy

(Left: Small individual crabs in Indonesia work together to harvest the beach –building beautiful patterns)

Executive Summary:
An advanced white paper on how to use social media tools in a collaborative way to generate synergy across the customer lifecycle in an effective method. For the advanced strategist.

Terms:

I’m using this term ‘integrated’ in a way that just applies to the web. The true ‘integrated’ approach involves other mediums, such as media, tv, billboards, etc.

Situation: You’ve experimented –now to get sophisticated

Great, so you’ve deployed a blog, maybe a podcast too, and your support group has forums, and your advertising agency is about to deploy in Facebook. It’s great that you’ve experimented with these tools seperatly, and have mastered or are close to using them very well as individual tools.

[The advanced brand will use Social Media tools in a holistic method, spanning the entire customer life cycle: from listening, awareness, sales, product development, support in a collaborative spirit]

Now it’s time to start thinking about these tools in an integrated fashion, the most effective social media brands, which are mainly individuals are using them together, in tandem, and an organized fashion. Some of the biggest social media brands are one step from me, Scoble, Techcrunch, Chris Pirillo, these smaller groups are often the first to adapt. I watch how these tools are being used, and then try it myself, break ’em so my corporate clients don’t have to. Here’s a few steps to get started:

Social Media Strategy Concepts:

Each tool serves a different purpose
Blogs, Pocdasts, Twitter, Social Networks, RSS, Wikis, Forums and god knows what else each have their strength and weakness. You’ll have to learn how each of these tools are used differently, the best way to learn? Experiment, using as a personal tool first.

Think of the Customer Lifecycle
Prospects evolve to buyers, who move to customers, who then need support, then up-sell. They require different ways to be communicated to, with different information and thus different tools. Learn how each customer process is different and align the tools together

Integrate with Announcements
I’ve noticed the sophisticated brands (individual or corporate) use these tools in a collaborative way to drive a meme around multiple communities, so learn how to integrate for every announcement and launch.

It’s not just Marketing
These tools can also be used to listen to the market, which will help in product announcements of understanding market needs –free research. If you start the conversation correctly during your announcement it should propagate word of mouth by customers and prospects, you’ll know if it doesn’t resonate as it will ‘rebound’. Product teams must be involved too, as prospects and customers will have questions about products and might even tell you something you don’t know. Lastly, there’s cost savings from allowing customers to self-support, and even collaboratively build the next generation product –along side your engineers.

Case Studies: An Integrated Social Media Strategy

Single Brand: Chris Pirillo
If you don’t know who Chris is, you should, he’s got quite a media brand for a single person. In the past, a single person media show required a Hollywood studio, dozens of staff, writers, and a TV network to synidcate. Now Chris uses the tools that are right around him. He creates a daily live video streaming show with Ustream (a company I advise) adds Camtwist for interaction and sponsorship, cuts up videos uploads to YouTube, ads to his blog and helps to distribute using Twitter. One many media platform.

Microsoft’s Origami

A few years ago, I first started to notice social media being used in an integrate fashion, Microsoft was one of the first and they used Scoble’s blog to get the market excited, he uploaded a few videos, pointed to community site Channel 9, and and then on the announcement he pointed to the product site, and the product team which was standing by in online forums with demo videos. It was a buzz, pass, and handoff, the tools used in tandem and across the customer lifecycle –smart.

Hitachi
I learned from Microsoft and did the same thing on a mini-scale. We used blogs, to first ‘listen’ to the market. I found bloggers that were talking about a market need, and that was used to help fuel conversation when the product was launched. I also encouraged our bloggers to point to the user forums where the product teams were standing by to answer questions –extending the tools towards the buying and eventually support process. As our relationships grew and the product line was archaic, we’d then use customer interaction in the forums to help define product requirements for the next generation product and repeat the process.

Web Strategy Brand
In the spirit of transparency, it’s quite obvious the web strategy brand is growing (this blog about to break the 1000 rank in Technorati) the Web Strategy Group in Facebook is over 1400 members in 4 weeks, and Twitter followers continue to grow. I use these tools in tandem to help grow the community, build ideas, and bring attention to things I think are important. In addition to growing this brand, it’s also part of my ‘trial’ process to see what works and what doesn’t –that’s the best way to learn.

Recommendations:
As your programs become more sophisticated your organization will use social media tools first in a one-off then isolated method. As you progress learn how the tools are different, and start to plan to integrate them, linking to each other in tandem. Be sure to allow for flexibility as the process will never be as planned and each situation will be different. Deployed correctly, it will make connecting to the market easier, faster, encourage word-of-mouth, and reduce costs with customers’ self supporting.

If you’re new to this blog, I’m Jeremiah, a Web Strategist, and that’s a social media strategy for the advanced brand. I left out a lot of details and specifics which you’ll have to learn about in your own process, or you can contact me to find a social media expert or consultant (myself, my employer, or my peers at other groups)