MAKING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY WORK

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LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL ISSUE 1 - 2014 77www.london.edu/bsrmore about your plans than youre used to.6 Involve your top people. You are unlikely to build anything that is substantial and sustainable through social media initiatives unless those at the top of your companys hierarchy put their weight behind your initiatives (and do so in a visible manner). 7 Stay true to your brand. Dont veer too far from who you are and what you know. Your style of communication should be adapted to suit social media and your image and tone of voice should be consistent across all media. While it is worth refecting that some companies have shaped entire business and production models around social media, most companies can beneft from applying these simple tips to their existing marketing strategies. BUSINESS STRATEGY REVIEWSocial media has become a powerful way to connect companies closely to the world in which they operate. Many companies are now discovering the potential of social media in generating customer insight, developing new products, and in speedily responding to customers and crises. Social media can help companies build both an external corporate brand and an employee brand for talent recruitment and engagement. Indeed, some companies have made social media the centrepiece of their business. Treadless.com is a T-shirt manufacturer and a good example of a company that relies on immediacy of consumer input. Te company obtains graphic designs from online consumers and other members of the Treadless.com community can vote on submissions, with the winners moving quickly into production and sale. Designers with winning entries get a royalty and keep the rights to their work. Tis approach moves products to market much faster than any normal approach to product design.Even companies that do may not adhere to company policies. Customers expect almost instant responses, and may express their dissatisfaction in highly visible ways. For these reasons, no company should operate without a clear and comprehensive social media strategy.Seven simple strands for a social media strategy 1 Invest, as nothing is free. Social media requires a strategic plan, a dedicated budget and the proper allocation of time and resources. Building a social bond and engaging with customers is a 24/7, around the clock, commitment. Ensure that you have people on hand who can anticipate, engage, and respond. For example, Starwood Hotels and Resorts spends 75 per cent of its marketing budget on digital media, according to Steven Taylor, its VP of Marketing for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Social media is now at the very core of our organisation, he says.2 Put yourself in the consumers shoes. Ask yourself: why would customers want to engage with you? Te answer sometimes has to do with intrinsic rewards from engaging with you, sometimes it has to do with monetary rewards, and sometimes it has to do with the community you have already created, and the social rewards it ofers. 3 Target the infuencers before the masses. Social media is not about amassing the greatest number of likes and followers; it is about reaching brand infuencers and key opinion leaders who will promote your product and lead others to buy it. 4 Steer but dont control. Social marketers can only shepherd consumer sentiment in their direction, not control it. 5 Strive for transparency. To efectively engage customers to develop new insights and serve as your advocates, you will probably have to reveal Executed well, social media can create an enormous buzz that saves marketing dollarsrajesh chandy (rchandy@london.edu) holds the Tony and Maureen Wheeler Chair in Entrepreneurship; Professor of Marketing and Academic Director of the Deloitte Insitute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at London Business Schoolnot expect to go as far as Treadless.com in their embrace of social media can beneft from the opportunities it ofers. When executed well, it can create an enormous buzz that saves marketing dollars. It personalises brands that can seem distant and abstract. It connects companies to customer tastes, trends and feedback. And it helps create and strengthen communities of dedicated customers; thus diferentiating a company from its competitors. For example, Ticketmaster, the event ticketing company, allows users who log in via Facebook to see a seat map that shows the seats in which their Facebook friends are sitting. Users can then purchase tickets nearby, and connect directly with their friends.But dangers do exist. Poor execution can generate negative sentiment, risk damaging the brand and kill sales. Communities are not easy to control, and they Making your social media strategy work91BSR1402144.pgs 23.01.2014 18:04 VOICES