4L’s of Social Media

So I came across some interesting articles today. I suppose you could categorize them under the “how to” genre. Which got me thinking. For a new company getting started in the social media space, what steps should they take to ensure they are on the path to success? I realize that there are books and blogs dedicated to this, and I sure came across many an authority/ expert on this topic, but here are my two cents – I call it the 4Ls.

1) Listen – This is a very important step and one that is perhaps not often followed. Companies need to first listen to what people/market is saying about them. This includes the who, what, why, where. Who is talking about your brand/ are they possibly influencer? What are they saying – is the tone positive/negative, Why and in what context are they mentioning your brand? and Where are these conversations taking place? Yes, this concept is repeated over and over again, but listening really is the building block of any social media research or strategy. For further details on the 5Ws you can consult this article.

2) Learn – What your competitors are doing? Research the social media tools out there – its probably not a good idea to be on Facebook, but you need to know what are the options, functionality, pros and cons of each. Its also a good idea to learn from the mistakes of others, and what factors have helped the competition or other firms succeed.

3) Leverage – Use the knowledge gained from the listening and learning phase to create a strategy that assists and bolsters your organizational goals and objectives. This will help you to deploy your presence on the right channels and ensure that you are not force fitting tools because its the in-thing.

4) Lead – Stay-on-top of the conversations, be active and engage your followers. Set the ground rules for managing and leading your online presence and establish the measures to success. Ignoring your followers is digital suicide.

I have also attached some interesting articles I came across.

Great piece on the evolution of social media – MediaPost – http://bit.ly/lsMC1X

Read a summary of Ted Rubin’s Tips Social Media success – http://bit.ly/lCEFx6  and details on Return on Relationship concept – http://bit.ly/jwVdEC

Why is Social Media important?

When most people think of social media, they conjure up Facebook, Twitter and a 20 something furiously updating and reading their friends status messages. Which reminds me its been 20 minutes since I checked my wall? But seriously, social media is so much bigger than a few giants and holds a lot of value for brands.

One of the constant topics in my digital marketing class at NYU this past fall was that a number of firms wanted a Facebook page, but they didn’t seem to know what. It just seemed that they wanted it and was the right thing to do. So why does every or atleast most firms want to jump or dip their toes in the social media waters?

From my perspective, effective marketing has always relied upon timely communication delivered in a coherent manner that is on brand, target and message, and it is equally important to identify and leverage the appropriate communication channel. So its not just important to say the right thing i.e. creative and idea, but you have to be where you customer/prospect is. Thats where social media comes in.

Social and digital media offers a chance to achieve a variety of objectives – whether its measuring brand reputation, testing message effectiveness, identifying patterns/trends, to managing customer relationships, and communicating with your customer/prospect. I think most companies realize that they need to go where their customers are. But before they do that they need to listen to whats being said and define a strategy.