5 Resolutions for 2012 for PR and Social Media
Well, it is that time of year for reflecting on 2011 and looking ahead to 2012. If 2011 proved anything, it was that social media has crossed the chasm into the mainstream -- worldwide. (Tip of the hat to Geoffrey Moore.)
From the democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street Movement to the Japanese tsunami to the death of Steve Jobs, social media played a central role in not only communicating the news, but also being an essential element of the events themselves.
On a more local and personal level, many of our clients who had been taking a very measured approach began to see the benefits of their social media activities, leading to more investment.
So if we look at the state of social media adoption I would suggest that we're well into the early majority phase of adoption. With this shift comes a new set of expectations for social media. The days of "let's try it and we'll see" have been replaced with, "let's have a plan with clear objectives and measurable results."
This phase places more expectations on communications professionals to continually prove the efficacy of their social media programs in 2012. With that in mind, here's a list of some things that we will be focusing on in the year ahead:
1. Ensuring a holistic owned content strategy
The Google Fresh update was the latest move that makes Google a real-time search engine and places a greater premium on an organization's ability to continually publish fresh and relevant content. This makes your ability to create content of various types -- text, images, infographics, video -- and orchestrate it through all of your channels -- web site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email, direct marketing -- essential.
The results we've seen for some of our clients bear this out, where their great blog content outranks their web site. The ideal is when your blog and other channels sits alongside your web site in multiple search positions on the first page of Google results for many keywords.
2. Tighter SEO and SEM linkage
This always should be in the mix from the very start, but it's remarkable how many marketing organizations still operate in silos with very little, if any, integrated planning and execution amongst their social media channels, SEO and SEM programs. Communicators need to be more disciplined in closing the loop between the content they are creating, use of keywords, and their placements on landing pages and other marketing content.
3. Better connections and conversations
The vast majority of social media activity is still broadcast in nature and not conversational. You spend the time finding the right people to connect with, you create and distribute content that you believe will be of interest to them, and then hope they respond in some way. Let's spend more time working to engage those whom you believe will be the most inclined to have a conversation. Contribute to their channels. Invite them to contribute to yours. Easily said, but not easily done.
The key is knowing your audience.
4. Measuring the impact not just the numbers
There are plenty of very good tools out there for tracking frequency, following, reach, and impact, with the latter up for debate. But one area that you should spend more time on is finding out what kind of conversions you are seeing as a result of the content you are creating. Are you driving more attendees to webinars? Are more people visiting the web site, downloading content and making their way into the salesforce and CRM system?
A key mantra for 2012 should be "action". Action takes various forms and is tied to the resolution above in terms of publishing content that your followers will act on by sharing, clicking on and commenting on, with a desire to want more from you.
These kinds of metrics can show how social media helped to find, facilitate and close deals.
5. Better integration with marketing automation and marketing execution tools
CMO's and VPs of marketing are using these tools to better integrate and automate marketing processes, improve efficiency and measure effectiveness. Bringing the social media channels, programs and results into these applications ensures that they are part of a complete strategic marketing plan.
Most new year resolutions are set with the best of intentions, but more often than not are impossible to keep. Why is that? Is it because they tend to be more aspirational and harder to achieve than pragmatic? Given we're moving into a phase where social media must demonstrate its practical and measurable value in order to secure continued investment and growth, I think these resolutions are worth sticking with.
What do you think? Do you have any other resolutions for your social media efforts in 2012? Tell me about them.