scale your social mediaWhat is “success” on social media? Your social media marketing is successful when it consistently achieves real, measurable results for your business or organization. Success means you are effectively engaging your target audiences on all of the different social channels on which they are active.

More importantly, you are also “giving back” to your online communities. Said differently, you are providing them with your own unique mix of valuable, relevant, and brand-appropriate original and curated content, which simultaneously increases your brand’s social influence in your desired topics AND generates buzz. Your buzz – whether it be in the form of Likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter, or shares and replies on all of your different social platforms – drives increased revenue from the sales of your products and/or services. Fan-tastic!

But now what? Now that you’ve proven to yourself and to your business that your social media strategy “works”, you are under even more pressure to “turn up the volume”. Your organization now requires you to scale up your social efforts to not just further increase revenues, but to do so at ever decreasing costs. Sounds like we need a Ken’s Checklist to crank up the volume knob on your social media!

A quick reminder before I start, that the opinions expressed here are my own. They come from my hands-on experience managing social marketing content and campaigns, leading social marketing teams, and consulting for social marketing clients. You, your organization, and your brand(s) are unique! Please use what works for you, and [guiltlessly!] toss the rest! Do you disagree with any of my advice, or think I have forgotten something? Please share your experiences with everyone in the Comments section below, so all of us can continue the discussion, and the learning!

Strategy-wise, you have two options. Option Number One – IF your business happens to have unlimited financial and human capital resources (ha!), you can simply scale up your social media efforts by investing more people and more money in them, and call it a day. Option Number Two – If you’re like the rest of us who work in businesses where our time, money, and staff are flat (or even decreasing!), you need to figure out how to achieve (not just do) more with less.

For option number two, the strategy to follow consists of four straightforward steps, requiring you to leverage your strengths:

Step 1: Analyze the results of your current social marketing efforts.

Step 2: Do more of your high-ROI efforts.

Step 3: Do less of your low-ROI efforts.

Step 4: Do better at – optimize! – your high-ROI efforts, by investing in them to further boost their impact.

Note that this is NOT a trivial exercise. As you well know, the “magic” of marketing is in the execution, as much as the strategy.

Before you start, pull together everything your business is doing in a “social media marketing audit”. Note that there will likely be many activities which are outside of your direct control, and therefore your ability to accurately measure their performance.

Please don’t jump out the nearest window if some (or even all) of the impact generated by your social media efforts has never been measured. Even successful businesses can be weak at knowing the effectiveness of their “traditional” paid, owned, and earned media marketing efforts, and weaker still at knowing the effectiveness of all of their newer social media marketing efforts.

In other words, the single biggest challenge in turning up the volume on your social media effectiveness may be figuring out just what you are doing already and quantifying the results. It’s all about gaining visibility into the different social media activities across your entire business, and then generating accurate analytics to reveal which of those efforts are meeting and exceeding their objectives, and which are not. The truly platinum lining to this seemingly dark cloud is that your CFO will very likely be your biggest champion in helping you to engage your business in helping you to make this happen!

Ken’s “How do I turn up the volume on my social media?” Checklist

1.) Agree, up-front, exactly what it is you want to achieve for your business with social media. Yes, this is often a loud and messy discussion, but it is important for everyone to voice their views [and have those views be heard by everyone] in order for the organization to identify and agree upon what it is you are trying to achieve . Whether it’s customer acquisition, retention, or win-back, knowing the primary focus of your combined social media efforts is key. Also, take the time, now, to clearly communicate these objectives to everyone involved. This exercise also serves as a great sanity check, ensuring that your social media objectives directly support your organization’s business goals.

Expert Tip: When you pull together the “master list” of all of your company’s social presences, accept that you will discover some rogue and “forgotten” presences that are no longer active. Shut down all non-active accounts, double check that account passwords are following the current security policies required by your IT group, and then “publish” the final list prominently on your website. It’s a great marketing tool!

2.) Whether your business is B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), give everyone on your social media front line – including executives, HR, sales, customer service, marketing, and public relations – a primer/refresher on who your customers are, and why they buy your brand(s). The better this team understands the company’s target audiences and what really triggers the customer decision to purchase in the first place, the more competent and comfortable the team will be when it comes to using social media to engaging with target and existing customers online.

Expert Tip: Employees/franchisees who actively use social media are your company’s social media army. Proactively share your company’s social media policy and messaging with them so they are all equipped to amplify your marketing, if they choose to do so. Be sure to clearly communicate that doing so is 100% “optional”. While it’s great to provide them with pre-written social posts, be sure to test for accurate understanding of the corporate, brand, and product messaging behind the posts.

3.) Identify the influencers outside your company who are important for your brand and directly reach out to them to spread the word. You can use Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex scores to help you hone in on the influencers who are worth the extra effort to win over as brand advocates. Don’t be surprised to discover analysts, reporters, bloggers and fanboys who – thanks to the power of social media – have greater influence over your own brand than you do.

Warning: This is where it starts getting tough for most organizations, big and small.

4.) Quantify, as best you can, the measurable impact each and every social effort currently underway in your company is having on your business.

Expert Tip: NO head chopping! Expect to discover multiple efforts (including “pet projects”), which are delivering weak numbers (or no numbers at all!). Grant “amnesty”, when you find people who are “doing” social media without “measuring” its effectiveness. Remind yourself that this ‘audit’ is a golden opportunity for education (#teachablemoment), and a chance to put new measurement schemes in place where they did not previously exist.

5.) Based on the results of the above exercise, rank each effort – not by size or even impact on social influence – but by the measurable dollar impact each effort has on your organization’s bottom line. I’m a fan of sales revenue, but lead generation *may* be more appropriate for your brand.

Expert Tip: Communicate every step, and explain why you are doing it. You’re not the Grinch who’s out to kill popular projects because of unresolved childhood issues. Doing the math and making the tough decisions allows you to identify where your company will reap the best possible return from an additional investment in time, people, and/or money when your organization needs you to crank up your social media volume knob!

6.) If you happen have the luxury of an internal or external/agency team, take the time required for everyone to understand and internalize the results of the ‘audit’. “Everyone” here means all relevant executives and the appropriate levels of management. Many people try to save time by skipping this step – don’t! The greater your “radical transparency”, the greater your success. This is also essential to achieving consensus and building support for the changes you are going to be making. Having everyone on the same page also frees you up to eliminate/rethink “strategic” social media efforts (such as the CEO’s blog…) that are not producing results.

Expert Tip: Nothing ”liberates” incremental budget dollars from your CFO faster than being able to have a crisp, fact-based discussion on which efforts are generating new revenues, and which are not.

7.) Create, communicate, and then execute your new “upscaled” plan. This will likely be a considerable effort the first time you do it, but it will make subsequent reviews of your company’s social media activities MUCH easier. To that point, consider incorporating these steps into your annual, or even quarterly marketing planning processes.

Expert Tip: We are all guilty at times of having a stronger focus on doing than analyzing. Set up a regular review schedule that works for your organization. The more you can automate the production of the tracking analytics you need, the more time you will free up to analyze and apply the data.

That’s it! My secret sauce for scaling your social media efforts can be summed up in one sentence: Leverage your strengths – do more of what is driving revenues for your business!

Sadly, this is easy to say and tough to put into practice. It requires you to transform from a Chief Marketing Officer to a Chief Digital Officer, accountable for knowing (and auditing) ALL of your company’s social media efforts so you can understand the real-time impact they are having on your business’ revenues. Here’s to your continued social media marketing success!

Ken’s Notes:

How do you scale up your social media marketing? Please share with us what works for your organization with us in our Comments section below!

I truly appreciate everyone’s questions, thank you! Do YOU have a question about social marketing technologies, tools, and best practices? Tweet your question to me @KenHerron with the hashtag “#DearKen”.  Please note that all tweets will be acknowledged, and considered as being submitted for publication (yes, we like to keep the MobileGroove lawyers happy!).