He assigns new responsibilities for online marketing to:
- professionals not trained in social media
- sales representatives who hate writing content
- younger administrators he expects to know how to make “friends” just because they’re, well, young.
To help your boss perfect your company’s social media strategy, start by determining which level of skill in social media applies to your company. The following five levels will help you decide how prepared your company is to deliver on a communications marketing plan.
Level One: Ad Hoc – Un-coordinated, unassigned, no resources
An ad hoc communications practice is not coordinated, assigned or organized; no resources are allocated for results. Success is based on the competence and efforts of the business owner and one or two staff. Yet, these informal and often seemingly chaotic practices can be quite successful. The questions become:
- How much more successful might you be if you were intentional in planning, coordinating and managing strategic communications?
- Could you be more cost effective, provide more quality and quantity with intentional practices over time among staff, partners, sectors and supporters?
Level Two: Planned – Resources allocated, responsibilities assigned
The practice is planned and deliberate as opposed to being spontaneous, reactive or on an “as needed” basis. Activities do not occur regularly, however, and may still be performed by one or two individuals.
Level Three: Identified process – Regularly performed
Level three practices are a routine part of the “fabric.” The business has determined their ideal ways to approach formal communications; practices are well known and coordinated within the business and among partners, sectors and supporters.
Level Four: Evaluated – Progress tracked
Communications results are evaluated. Measures of performance and progress are collected and analyzed. Often a quantitative understanding of success is known and tracked, and the business has a better ability to predict or estimate outcomes.
Level Five: Optimized – Continuous improvement
An even higher level of commitment to the practice is demonstrated as the company is committed to improving performance over time.
Once you decided which level applies to your company, you can then move on to answering these four key questions:
- Why do we want to communicate?
- What and how much do we know about our audiences?
- How realistic are we being in assessing our ability to manage strategic initiatives?
- How realistic are our expectations for what we hope to accomplish?
Take your time. These are difficult questions to answer. Once answered, you can now:
- evaluate your core communications for clarity and consistency across each channel you’ve researched. Of course, communicating by email is not the same as posting or networking on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be prepared to change styles for each platform.
- determine your resources such as knowledge of leadership, staff and partners to achieve success.
- integrate your online activities with offline happenings. I often discover that my clients have been hosting or attending offline events that are not coordinated with their online activities. These are missed opportunities.
- confirm that your leadership is on board with strategies and the delivery cycle to ensure the plan has support.
With these tasks completed, you are well on your way to creating a successful communications marketing plan.
Communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a print business magazine for 21 years. She now works to assist clients in digital marketing.