When Aligning Branding and Social Messaging, Don’t Forget Social Media (Part Two)

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 edition of the Marketing GPS Newsletter.

New Sheriff in Town?

In last month’s issue, we looked at the job of policing brands in light of social media’s growing influence. Instead of strict brand enforcement, we suggested that organizations need to a) establish guidelines, then empower and trust knowledgeable people to update social-media platforms, as well as b) delegate social-media posting, but continue monitoring all social-media posts.

In this issue we’ll look at the role described in “b” above, the brand-monitor or “sheriff” policing the social-media frontier. Ideally, this role would be assigned to a single individual.

A Sheriff and Deputies
Today’s fast-paced marketing environment resembles the old Wild West, and many organizations may find it easier to skip suggestion “a” above, than to coordinate activities among a team having different experiences, skill sets and training. Assigning all social-media responsibility (not just monitoring, measuring and reporting, but content-development and posting, too) to a lone brand “sheriff”–in effect, combining both “a” and “b” in one individual—may seem safer, but it’s actually more risky. It’s doubtful that one staffer can do all these tasks well.

The social-media sheriff’s position is ideal for leading, training and encouraging the posting team while keeping marketing goals in view. The wise sheriff will help hone message points and slowly build on small successes. Each member of the posting group should be able to post on all platforms to all constituencies, in order to maximize economies of scale. With proper training and direction, each team member should grow into someone the sheriff can fully “deputize” to coordinate message points across the social-media landscape.

Upholding the Rule of Law
Of course, besides directing the content team, the sheriff must also track and report results against predetermined metrics and goals–ensuring that each campaign maintains posting focus, frequency and impact. To maintain posting frequency, for instance, the sheriff should set overall goals and then establish individual team-member expectations accordingly. Accounts should be updated at regular intervals, so enough authorized posters must be assigned and trained to ensure the posting schedule is maintained.

This doesn’t take as much investment as it sounds, though, as long as team members incorporate social-media posting into their weekly schedules and take advantage of the appropriate tools. And the larger the team, the less frequently each member must post, but since every link in the chain counts, posters must be held accountable to the predetermined frequency goal.

Benchmarking also helps determine targeting, based on how impactful marketing efforts are on various groups. The decisions regarding what audiences to target, who should post, even what identities to set up, must themselves be centralized to encompass these goals. This way the sheriff can truly take responsibility, and metrics can accurately measure marketing success.

New Flexibility
While maintaining control over the marketing message, the sheriff can also exploit the flexibility of social media to reach a variety of smaller audiences, at low cost. You may find advocates for your point of view in the most unexpected places, and these diverse groups will not respond in the same way to your branding and messaging as your core target market. Therefore, while you should at least echo your brand and message points to new audiences, avoid rebroadcasting them in a regimented way.

ESPN, for example, now has dozens of properties that focus on more aspects of sports than can be counted: national, local, collegiate, classic, informal, Spanish-language, niche, journalistic, biographical, fantasy, etc. Many of these can be customized to personal or even mobile preferences through micro-channels. But these properties don’t mimic the look and feel of the original cable channel. As Kevin Hillstrom puts it, “The only theme that runs through all of these micro-channels is that this is ‘ESPN, The Worldwide Leader In Sports.’ Sure, there’s cross-promotion between platforms. But by and large, ESPN deviates away from the ‘look and feel’ and ‘integration’ mantras of multichannel marketing.”

While strict rules for social-media use would be simpler, they would make your social media marketing less flexible and effective, so marketing policing by necessity now raises many questions. But the first question is one you should ask right away: has your new sheriff arrived in town?

Michael is responsible for client SEO work, reporting, FB ads, and web hosting. Prior to joining NSI Partners, Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management Information Systems from Liberty University, and worked at the school’s Network Operations Center. Michael resides in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife, Megan. His hobbies include gaming, watching Atlanta Falcons football, and reading.

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About NSI Partners

A digital marketing company with almost two decades of experience, NSI Partners helps clients achieve robust results in search marketing, social media, and other digital marketing spaces.

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