“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Marketers have long been used to drawing up plans. Plans make us feel prepared and safe.
But as social media has gone from the beta test to a part of everyday life, sticking to a detailed marketing plan has become virtually impossible. It’s a bit like arranging your home while driving the moving van: you can try to put all the pieces in place, but you can’t predict the bumps and curves in the road.
Even so, creating a social media strategy allows marketing to focus on organizational goals rather than new gimmicks and stay on message. The problem for demand marketers is that few, if any, resources that explain how to use social to build strong, lasting demand generation strategy.
So over several months we interviewed experts like Sandy Carter of IBM and social savvy clients like Sage, compiled research, and identified emerging best practices around social demand generation strategy.
The result is the Grande Guide to Social Demand Generation, which we published today and is available for free. It serves as an on-ramp to social media for demand marketers.
The first thing we did was define social demand generation. When we refer to demand generation we usually mean the methodologies marketers use to identify prospects, nurture and turn them into leads. By social demand generation, we are referring to the social tools and strategies businesses can employ to get a more complete view of what compels a prospect to buy, from the content they share to the influencers they trust.
The guide outlines four principles of a social demand generation strategy:
1. It Starts with Awareness
Maybe you’re sick of hearing about awareness by now, but there’s no avoiding this first and crucial step. Social media is about conversation. If you want to build up demand from social, identifying where these conversations are taking place and who is leading them.
2. Be Engaging
Once you’ve pruned the list of social channels down to the most impactful for your industry, you need to engage buyers. There are simple and sophisticated ways to do this, from leading online chats to using social tools that make it easy for prospects to share your content and offers. The important thing is to not only gain the trust of prospects, but the influential voices they listen to on the social Web.
3. Collect Data
The real social juice, from a demand generation perspective, comes from the data you can collect. Thanks to tools like query strings, SlideShare and social sign-on, it’s easier than ever to track which social channels leads are coming in from and tailor your marketing to the most effective platforms. Social sign-on, for instance, doesn’t just lower barriers to conversion, but provides the kind of data sales loves.
4. Keep Measuring
Unlike brand awareness, demand doesn’t measure success based on likes, hits and tweets. It’s all about conversions and leads. As you pursue a social demand generation strategy, you need to doggedly measure your campaigns by channel and effectiveness. Over time, you’ll find which social sites and tactics drive demand consistently, as well as some of the outliers that deserve experimentation. (Coca-Cola’s “Now, New, Next” marketing investment model is worth looking at.)