Move Beyond Hashtags And Create Social Media Synergy

Social media is here to stay. Not only does it empower your brand, it creates a sustainable, lasting conversation about your product or service. There are few in business today who won’t acknowledge the impact social media has made in marketing communications

However, the greatest challenge organizations are currently facing is the integration of social media into their overall marketing strategy. Whether it’s public relations, advertising, sales or any other marketing function, social media needs to be integrated in order to create a synergistic partnership with your overall marketing communications strategy. To do this, we must go beyond hashtags and routine postings to develop strategic positioning of social media in concert with your entire marketing communications plan.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Social media content must be transparent. It must be shared openly and visibly throughout your organization as it builds on your brand story to reach internal and external stakeholders. This simply means internal sharing of social media content and strategy which then builds stronger integration with your overall marketing strategy. Transparency will then not only build trust but create new levels of synergy for your marketing and social media.
  • Social media is not a subordinated marketing function. Social media should not be only one function within the marketing mix, like public relations or advertising. It must be an equal function among others, possessing its own sphere of influence, strategy and metrics. Social media will then be leverage with the same emphasis on strategy and business impact.
  • Social media must be integrated into every marketing decision. You can’t just “check the box” with social media – it takes planning, competency and seasoned management to maintain. When integrated, social media then becomes synergistic and builds on a holistic marketing approach. Many organizations prove that a coordinated approach to any business function will yield meaningful results.
  • Social media metrics must transcend likes and numbers of followers. Social media metrics must be built on true and sustainable engagement. We must transcend hashtags and inflated likes to those true followers who have an affinity for your brand. This is important in order to leverage social media to engage, converse and transact. Social media will then align with your brand loyalty, which will yield sustainable results.
  • Social media should not be an exception. For example, a well-known company recently wanted to make a large announcement and the social media team determined that they needed to place this announcement on social media first, without any regard to public relations or overall marketing communication strategy. In fact, this effort ended up costing the organization front-page exclusive coverage because it already had appeared on social media. It would have been better served to make this announcement coordinated with all marketing functions including strategic communications, sales and marketing, among others.
  • Social media content must not be developed in isolation. Social media messages built in a vacuum rarely resonate or have a long-term impact. This isolation has the potential of costing and defraying the overall value of your marketing communications initiatives. True social media synergy means building a consensus within your organization when formulating social media messaging and content. This can be accomplished by a more formal social media planning process, stronger internal planning around social media initiatives outside of the marketing communications team and prioritization of social media as measurable business function.

As social media has evolved, so must we. It’s not a fad or a trend – it is a marketing communications function that has a viable impact on your business. When every marketing function comes together, it creates an integrated synergistic marketing strategy. Leveraging your social media footprint across the marketing continuum will not only positively impact your brand awareness, but will build new business relationships.

This article was written by Next-Mark Founder and President and appeared on Forbes.com