Three steps to nailing channel strategy

by · March 6, 20143 comments

Last week we had a great conversation about social media marketing being at risk because we are not yet nailing the content and listening side of the equation. I completely skipped channel relevance because I feel it is a bigger challenge. Having a strong channel strategy scares a lot of marketers because they know in their hearts that a solid approach to channels take more time and energy than they may be ready to commit.

I am here to tell you that these thoughts are partly true and partly false. You see, the mistake I think marketers make in channel strategy is a three-part problem. One, the belief that one status update fits all. Second, that all channels are created and function equally. And finally, that you have to be on ALL of them. Let’s break it down a bit.

Social Media Mind MapOne size fits none

If you are posting the same thing on Twitter as you are Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram and so on…you lose. Each channel in social media has a different use and purpose to your fans. Because social media has become so ubiquitous, we are approaching them all the same as if a fan on Pinterest is the same as a follower on Facebook. They are not the same and not used for the same purpose. People use Pinterest to hold all their aspirations and goals and things that make them happy. People use Facebook to connect with friends and LinkedIn to grow their professional careers. So, to assume that your status update is applicable to all of these scenarios is flawed. When you go to market in a channel, you need to understand the use cases for the channel and your audience. When we create content, you need to focus on those use cases to achieve maximum results.

Channels are NOT equal

Social channels are all different (as noted above). This is beyond the audience use cases. Audience size and scope are different as are the goals in which the channel can help the business accomplish. For example, some channels drive a lot of traffic. Other channels are awesome at having a conversation. And yet, some channels are great for awareness building. For example, Pinterest is a proven traffic driver. Facebook is great at build awareness and conversation. LinkedIn is a great place to identify thought leaders and talent. So, treating all of these channels equally sets you off in the wrong direction. When we go into a channel, make sure you document the goals that each channel can help the business accomplish.

Focus first

Each time a new channel comes out, we all feel the need to jump on it as fast as possible with zero plan to support it. It is so easy to do. But, what I have to say is this…take your time. You cannot be all things to all people. A former client of mine used to say that their approach to social was all about Smart Experimentation. It is the wisest approach I have seen to date. Instead of going to market on every channel with the same content and hoping for the best outcomes, they went onto one platform with specific goals and targeted content. Guess what, they have been insanely successful in their social marketing. And over time have expanded their presence in social smartly and with a sense of experimentation. Now, they have a repeatable model to implement as new channels and tools become available. All because they took the time to plan thoughtfully.

I recognize it is not possible for all marketers to hit the pause button on their social strategy and I don’t recommend that. But, what I would like to see is that you take this post and audit your channels. Take a look at why you are using that specific channel and the goals you are trying to achieve. Then look at some use cases for the audience of when they are interacting with your content. For example if you are focused on B2B and are using Facebook, think about how your business audience is using Facebook, when and why. Try to determine if that channel is a fit for your content in that audience. Then try to identify the gaps in your approach. Once you see the known gaps, you can begin to work to fill those gaps and achieve the goals. Having a strong channel strategy will produce results, just takes a little thoughtful planning.

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About Tracey Parsons

Tracey Parsons

Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Terrific post Tracey. “One size fits none” lol. It’s great to see that you mention reverse engineering by thinking about how, when and why your business audience is using a social platform.

    It’s all comes down to planning. The end result of planning should be an arrow pointing in the right direction and a bow with the power to get the arrow to the target. The social media marketing plan is the quiver in which the bow and arrow are kept.

  • Melody Kurth

    I agree with everything this post outlined. “Smart Experimentation” is the best way to approach social media. I laugh when I see a company’s social media bar with more than 8 connections. Can a PR team be present and consistent on each, at all times? Each platform is different, each one has a cultural developed by the consistent users. One size really dose fit none. On a side note, recently Twitter launched Branch and Medium to assist users who are trying to push-out content that doesn’t fit in 140 characters. It’s unique to see a social media platform respond to “one size fits none” and develop new platforms for interactions. I am looking forward to watching the smart experimentation begin on Branch and Medium.

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