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Why You Need a Strategy for Social Media

Planning and organization no longer optional

February 10, 2010

Social media has matured to the point where marketers are no longer asking whether it should be part of their marketing mix but how and where they should participate. A clear strategy for the channel is now necessary.

“The low cost of social media can lull marketers into improvising solutions,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the Insight Brief “Five Reasons Why Marketers Need to Have a Social Media Strategy.”

“But taking account of the time spent debating, formulating, managing and executing social media campaigns—not to mention creating content—makes it clear that money is at stake and a well-thought-out plan is needed,” Mr. Verna said.

“Instead of researching the best ways to engage, many businesses create accounts across multiple social networks and publish content without a plan or purpose. However, businesses that conduct research will find a rewarding array of options and opportunities.”

—Brian Solis, founder and principal, FutureWorks, in a blog post on Mashable, January 11, 2010

A strategy is also critical because social media users will expect companies to be savvy in the social space. That includes making sure social marketing initiatives are in line with other brand marketing strategies.

“As increasing numbers of companies immerse themselves in social marketing, the sophistication level rises for all,” said Mr. Verna. “That creates an environment in which only the most organized can compete.”

A critical part of marketers’ planning is determining how to integrate social media into their companies. In the Insight Brief “Where Does Social Media Fit Within an Organization?” Mr. Verna analyzed how marketers are weaving social media into the larger corporate fabric.

Most companies find social media useful as a marketing and communications tool, but many companies also use social channels for sales, customer service, IT and more.

Reasons that US Executives* Use Social Media, July 2009 (% of respondents)

Although companies may use social media for several discrete business purposes, they should work toward integrating social media expertise into functional teams. Silos of expertise should be avoided.

“A Facebook promotion is only as good as the information that it feeds back to the sales, CRM, marketing or senior management executives who can turn it into a business gain,” said Mr. Verna.

“Five Reasons Why Marketers Need to Have a Social Media Strategy” and “Where Does Social Media Fit Within an Organization?” are part of a series of eMarketer Insight Briefs focused on social media marketing. Available exclusively to Total Access subscribers, the seven briefs, along with a PowerPoint slideshow, answer the most common and most pressing questions that businesses have about social media marketing.

Total Access subscribers, log in and view the Insight Briefs now. Learn more about an eMarketer Total Access subscription today.

Check out today’s other article, “Moms Place Trust in Other Consumers.”


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