Community marketing budgets are under more pressure than ever before. The economic crisis and pull back of federal stimulus dollars have created a perfect storm that is forcing communities to decide on how to allocate constrained resources. In response, community marketers are turning to social media as a key component in their communication mix.
But, often the social media efforts launched by communities are poorly conceived and a significant drain on staff resources to maintain. Creating a Facebook page, LinkedIn group or blog on your website does not ensure success.
Like any other communication channel (print, email, radio, television, etc.), social media programs need to be created based on a sound strategic foundation. You need to have a clear vision for how the people participating in your social media efforts will help strengthen your community’s image. The connection between engagement and impact must be clear.
Creating an effort that leverages the influence of bloggers and has an opportunity to go viral can certainly help a community build its brand – if the program is strategically sound and well executed.
Here are three excellent private sector examples of social media efforts that are strategically well grounded and have potential to go viral:
P&G has recently launched a social media effort to touch lives and improve the life of people who are in need of clean water. Strategically, P&G is able to help strengthen both its corporate brand and PUR brand image.
GE has launched a social media campaign to help raise awareness of the value of energy conservation and alternative energy sources. The program will help build the GE corporate brand image and inspire innovative solutions to reduce global energy consumption.
Love 146 Round Home used a novel social media campaign to help build awareness of child slavery and exploitation. The effort will help build the Love 146 brand and set the stage for increased donations.
Three key characteristics each of these examples have in common are:
- The underlying strategic objective is clear. In each execution, there is an easy to understand connection between the choice of social media and the desired outcome. Social media was not selected as simply and add-on component to the communication plan with the hope that it will make an impact.
- The execution is designed specifically for the media. Each campaign’s tactical elements are designed specifically to leverage the capability of the media. In the case of P&G’s water widget, they designed a tool that bloggers would conceivably use to help build traffic to their own site while helping P&G meet it’s image-enhancing objective. In the Love 146 program, the choice of an electronic card to pass along takes advantage of the viral nature of communities.
- Each execution has a strong emotional appeal. Providing clean water to communities, saving the planet, eliminating child slavery and exploitation. The strength of the emotional appeal is directly proportionate to the probability of follow-through by the community.
As you reflect on your own Organization’s social media efforts, is there a transparent strategy underpinning your decision to leverage the media? Does your program share any of the three common characteristics noted in the above examples?
Some additional reading you may find valuable on the effective use of social media include –
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