I was recently asked by by one of our account managers: "How do you select which social networks to participate, and which tools to use?" In dashing off a return email it dawned on us that this was information that might be useful to our readers:
Every client has objectives, assets, a target audience, goals and things they want to achieve as part of their marketing mix. Our channel selection is based on our ongoing knowledge of the channels and the participation of the clients target audience, what they want to achieve, the clients limitations (like time, resources and security issues), plus the clients brand personality. Often we look at existing or proposed PR efforts where we can tie-in or grow an audience/community based on what the client already has in the pipe-line.
Social channels lend themselves to different clients, for example: if a client has a wealth of pre-existing video content then YouTube is a possibility, if they want to deliver quick local news to a dedicated audience, if they have a rich arts based cultural following then Facebook and event based booking channels might be a must, or if they are 'local' and a physical place then geo-positioning tools may be an option, the list goes on.
Often decisions like this come from listening. What are people saying in a channel about the brand or company, or their rivals? Are they being listened to? Is there an opportunity to gather support and a community, for fun and community not for broadcasting a message? There may not be a need for a 'John Smith Bacon' Facebook Page right now, but there may well be a call for a 'We <3 Bacon Sandwiches" Page, sponsored by John Smith Bacon.
Every client is different. There are a lot of variables. Every client, and every clients community, is unique. Choosing the right channel is all about understanding the client, audience, and the channels we are suggesting. It's about applying our previous experience, creating the channel right (for the future) and then using them properly to build community, listen, and to provide a service.
It sounds so easy when we put it like that, yet a typical social media marketing plan (with research) can take up to a month to get ready for presentation to a client, and we have regular meetings and open dialogue with them every step of the way.