As social media sites continue their meteoric rise as the fastest growing online, the push for companies to adopt social technology increases as well. TDK’s Enterprise Social Technology Series outlines a path for incorporating social technology into enterprise business models. The series will consist of the following articles:

Researching Social Technology

Although early adopters of Social Media Marketing (SMM) will tend to reap the most benefits, engaging in SMM requires careful planning to create the desired business results. In fact, jumping into SMM without a plan can often cause more harm than good. The first step to any successful SMM campaign is conducting social technology research. You should be looking for answers to the following questions:

  • what social media technologies are available and what are they useful for?
  • how will SMM impact your marketing and sales pipelines?
  • how will SMM impact your search engine optimization efforts?
  • how does your target audience use social media channels?
  • how can you practice effective social media integration?

Social Media Technologies

There are so many social technologies available that it’s difficult to get a handle on what technologies are worth investing time in and for what purpose. Social media networks like Facebook are best used for brand building. LinkedIn presents brand building opportunities but is best for recruiting top talent. Blogs are best for thought leadership and building expert authority, but also present brand building opportunities. Microblogs like Twitter are best for brand building. Social bookmarking services like delicious, digg and stumbleupon are best for buzz generation. Social search sites like Yelp are best for brand reputation management, and unlike most social media tools provide opportunities for focused lead generation. Expert communities will undoubtedly have fewer people to connect with, but the quality over quantity provides excellent brand and expert authority building opportunities, possibly even lead generation, depending on the etiquette and norms of the particular community. Be sure to research these technologies carefully. Determine what your resource allocation mix should look like and what sort of engagement tactics will maximize your investment in these technologies.

SMM Impacts the Marketing and Sales Pipelines

Social media marketing surrounds your marketing and sales pipelines, making virtually each and every aspect of them more efficient. Best in class social media technology adopters outperform laggards on:

  • the volume and quality of prospects driven into the pipelines
  • qualified inquiries
  • nurturing prospects to maturity
  • generating sales ready leads
  • distributing and handing off opportunities
  • generating customers
  • retaining customers
  • maximizing lifetime value of customers
  • return on marketing investment (ROMI)
  • ability to predict customer behavior
  • timeliness of marketing decisions

SMM and SEO are Complementary Strategies

It is wise to have your SMM managers either be SEOs themselves or be working closely with an SEO team. The reason being that SMM can have a great impact on SEO and vice versa. As recently revealed by Google and Bing, sites like Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on search engine listings, even despite their practice of “nofollowing” the html links which appear on these sites. Tweeting, sharing, and liking links on these sites will boost the organic rankings of the linked page in the search engine result pages (SERPs). The authority of the user who is interacting with the link is also part of the equation, so the more followers and likes the better your rankings in the SERPs become. Other social media sites provide direct “dofollowed” link building opportunities, namely blogs, social bookmarking sites and some expert communities. All social media channels can provide exposure to your web properties which may stimulate secondary links, referral traffic and online brand mentions.

How Does Your Target Audience use Social Media?

You know who your target audience is. Where are they in the social media landscape? Find them in the various social media channels. Listen to them. Learn from them. Understand what motivates their involvement in social media. What are their goals and objectives? How can you plug your business into those goals and objectives?

Social Media Integration

Best in class social media marketers integrate business content with social media, social media with existing business processes, and disparate social media networks and tools. You should already be creating a steady stream of new content for your website. Repurpose and promote this content using social media technology. Integrate social technology into your website, your emails, newsletters, advertisements and other marketing materials. Surround your marketing and sales pipelines with social technology. Encourage internal collaboration via social technology to improve backoffice efficiencies. Keep track of all your various social media tools, connections and topics using management tools like HootSuite and RSS aggregators like Google Reader.

Putting the necessary effort into researching social technology is an essential precursor to formulating meaningful goals and objectives. Don’t skip this important part of the process before you move on to the next article in the series: Setting Goals and Objectives.

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