When discussing the creation of a social media marketing campaign with clients, I always start with a plan.

Planning is not very popular – people want to sign up and dive in to the social media pool. Since I believe that planning is a vital piece of the social media puzzle, I always insist on doing it first.

During the initial planning sessions with clients, I ask them these two questions:

  1. Why do you want to use social media?
  2. What do you hope that social media will accomplish for you?

Without fail, their answers are always a variation of the following:

  1. “To increase sales.”
  2. “To increase donations.”
  3. “To increase revenue – we need money!”

This is flawed thinking, and I see it as my job to educate my clients.

Think for a minute. Would you Like a brand or organization on Facebook that only wanted money from you? (I didn’t think so.)

“Donor acquisition” and “lead conversions” are respectable goals to have in a traditional marketing campaign.

What people don’t realize is that when doing “this social media thing”, the goals have to change.

There are 5 major goals to choose from when building your social media strategy:

1. To connect with your constituency. Brands and organizations that use social media effectively use it to connect with their community where they already are – online! No matter your target market and constituency, they are already there. Millions of them, every second of every day! Your customers and your donors are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and more. It’s up to you to find out where they are and what they like to read when they are there.

2. To get feedback. Getting authentic feedback on a product or service is a fantastic way to leverage social media. However, you must be willing to acknowledge and use some of this feedback – otherwise, why collect it at all?I realize that this is the part that scares the most people – getting negative feedback. I see negative feedback as a “teachable moment” – how you respond to the negativity and criticism shows your character as a brand. (For example, do not respond like this.)

3. To monitor the competition. Social media networks are perfect places to monitor the conversations around the industry, cause and competition. What are people saying about your competition that you can leverage? What problems are they having that you can solve better than the competition? What is your unique sell – what makes you unique over all others?

4. To build a raving online community. Building brand ambassadors is a skill not to be taken lightly, but when done well, it is a very effective way to increase your brand credibility and presence.

5. To establish credibility. Many brands and nonprofit organizations aim to be the go-to resource in their industry around their specific issue or cause. Social media tools are great platforms to espouse your values, your expertise and your knowledge while helping others. What problems can you solve for potential customers? What impact are you having on the world?

Each of these reasons can be expanded upon, but the point is simple:

People are not on social media to get sold to. If you use it primarily to drive sales or get donations, the results will be disappointing.

HOWEVER: If you use it to build community, raise awareness and drive the conversation, that goodwill and trust can then be leveraged into increased sales or donations.

It takes work, time and dedication. But it’s worth it.

Do you have a success story about using social media for your business? Please add your thoughts in the Comments section or on the J Campbell Social Marketing Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

photo credit: Rosaura Ochoa via photo pin cc

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