David Hargreaves

Reflections on the reinvention of the PR industry

Building a Social Media Strategy

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been involved in a number of sessions with clients as part of helping them define their social media strategy. My sense is that we are now beyond the let’s experiment stage and have now moved into the ‘we need to join up all these experiments’ phase. There are a number of fundamental questions that I think we need to answer as part of determining a strategy (I am not going to go into them all here), but I think a big question facing many brands is how to strike the balance between engaging with their target audience on their site or on a third party site or on a property that is a hybrid of the two. In other words:

  1. What is the role of www.client.com as a destination within the social media strategy?
  2. To what extent should we be engaging existing audiences on third-party properties?
  3. Is there a role for a loosely coupled digital property within the social media strategy?

There is clearly no right and wrong answer because it depends on a whole host of factors including whether you are trying to attract new customers or build a deeper relationship and loyalty with existing customers. One thing is sure, ‘if you build it they won’t necessarily come!’ How you then aggregate an audience around a destination that is the focus for the conversation is, in my view, the key to success.

It is interesting to look at different approaches. Symantec has created a real thought leadership position as an expert in the security space by publishing security threat data on Symantec.com. As a market leader, it has the brand authority to host this on its own branded property, the content of which is then picked up elsewhere.

Kaspersky, on the other hand, a brand less known in the space, has recently launched www.threatpost.com, a ‘loosely-coupled’ media property. Kaspersky has recruited a couple of journalists to create a security news aggregation site as part of building itself up as an authority on security issues. In addition to this being a destination in its own right, something like this will have a massive impact on natural search providing a huge amount of ‘Google juice’. The launch of www.threatpost.com covered by ZDnet and also in Business Week. A sign of the times that “Company x launches ‘marketing initiative’” makes it into the mainstream media as a media property in its own right.

I must confess I struggled to find a great example in the security industry of a brand having really engaged with a third party community in a powerful way (all examples welcome – I even went to my trusty list from Peter Kim). However one great example of an existing third-party community where brands can engage is www.spiceworks.com (a community of over 500,000 IT professionals in the SME space). A number of Bite clients including AMD are heavily involved in this. A classic case of fishing where the audience swims.

While there is no right and wrong approach I think as long as you are clear about the role you are asking each social media and indeed broader communications channel to play as part of the broader marketing mix, it becomes a lot easier to think about how you join up all the existing experiments.

Filed under: Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , ,

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