Mike Hanbery September 19, 2012

The 5 W’s of Social Media Marketing

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Successful, sustainable social media marketing plans are built upon the same foundations as other successful, sustainable plans: Why, Who, Where, When and What. The 5 W’s provide structure, tangibility, and answers to a number of important questions, including, “How will we succeed in social media?”

WHY
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. – Simon Sinek

Businesses and organizations that connect with people who share their values enjoy much greater marketing efficiencies and results across all business pursuits. In social media marketing, the importance of why cannot be overstated. Social media provides an opportunity to connect personally with people who share your passions for why you do what you do. These will be the most engaged audience and the most proactive sources of referrals.

  • Know your “why.” Integrate it into your social media presence: Imagery, content and the way you represent yourself throughout the medium.
  • Identify goals for your social media. Why are you here?
  • Use the S.M.A.R.T. goals model. Ensure goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Determine potential metrics you will use to measure social media marketing ROI. These should be tied to the goals you set.

WHO
Any communication model requires at least two parties: Source and receiver. Effective social media marketing plans identify accountable parties and processes on one end and engaged, appreciative recipients on the other.

If you give an audience a chance, they will do half your acting for you. – William Hazlitt

  • Identify your key targeted personas. For whom are you crafting your messages? What change has occurred in their lives that drives their interest? Why would they care what you have to say?
  • Identify other entities with which to connect online. These may include: Referral partners, influencers within your industry or geographic area, clients and prospects, suppliers, and charitable organizations your company supports.


Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air. – Jack Benny

  • Determine how your organization will manage the community. How will comments and alerts be channeled? Identify in what ways and to what degree social media content—generated by the company and by Internet users—impacts different parts of the organization.
  • Determine the need and corresponding budget for outside assistance. Will you need an experienced partner to help define strategy? Conduct social media listening exercises for online reputation management and lead generation opportunities? Grow and manage your online community? To what degree can your internal resources succeed?
  • Determine commitments for content contributions within the organization.
  • Larger companies and organizations and those with legal and regulatory considerations will want to create and adopt policies clearly delineating roles and responsibilities, including content approval processes.

WHERE
The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where the bad girls live. – George Carlin

Internet social networks have different cultures, sizes and features. These can be leveraged to put your organization in a favorable light or become a liability. When in Rome…

  • Determine which Internet social networks should be the focal point of your efforts.
  • Allocate resources, content plans and distribution schedules to different Internet social networks.
  • Identify opportunities available with the unique features of each network. Examples include Facebook Instant Messaging, Twitter Hashtags and LinkedIn Groups.
  • Determine how you will integrate social media with other messaging channels.
  • Identify ways you will drive traffic to this opt-in medium.

WHEN
If the timing’s right and the gods are with you, something special happens. – Rick Springfield

Effectiveness, efficiency and results are maximized when an organization knows when it is best to publish and engage. The average consumable life of a Facebook post is 3 hours; a tweet, exponentially less. People use social media at different times for different lengths, with various levels of acumen and engagement.

  • Research and experiment to determine when your audience is most active and receptive to messages on social media.
  • Factor in the different cultures and behaviors on various Internet social networks.
  • Use social media dashboard tools to schedule posts, tweets, etc. in advance.
  • Determine an acceptable response time for visitor comments.

WHAT
You’ve got to have a mission. You’ve got to have a message. – Scott Walker

In social media, content is king. Content is simultaneously the backbone and lifeblood of the medium. Demand and importance of “good” content are rendered exponentially more important by the 24/7/365 nature of social media and the fact that the barrier to entry is zero—everyone is now a content producer.

  • Define your message and your online persona. Develop a Social Media Content Generation Plan and incorporate it into the overall action plan.
  • Remember: The most important part of participating in a conversation is listening.
  • Define the voice in which you will speak. Will it be a person’s? A mascot’s? The company’s?
  • Define how you will generate interest in your subject matter. How will you inform? Entertain? Touch people on an emotional level? What will cause them to continually opt in to your message and recommend others do so?
  • Determine your content mix. What percentage of your content will be image-driven? Video? Blog posts?
  • Secure the tools you will use to monitor social media channels; schedule posts, tweets, etc.; channel feedback; retrieve social media marketing analytics.

As social media grows more pervasive, the number of players and data increases. The task of being heard and noticed becomes increasingly challenging. Committing to a plan, executing it and making adjustments based on objective, honest assessments against clearly-defined goals will expedite ROI in social media marketing.

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